I Never Feel Judged When I’m Around You — Chinazom and Tunmise

July 1, 2022
My Bro is a biweekly Zikoko series that interrogates and celebrates male friendships of different forms.

If there’s one striking thing about Chinazom and Tunmise’s friendship, it’s how much they can say to each other even when they’re saying nothing at all. While this is a great thing for their friendship, it sucks for me as a writer. But it’s hard to be mad at this seven-year-old friendship that’s helped the two men be more open with themselves and the people around them. 

In this episode of My Bro, they talk about bonding in their early Unilag days, late-night calls that involve tears and navigating a friendship in which no topic is out of bounds. 

Our origin story

Tunmise: My earliest recollection of you is when we met at a tutorial class while doing a Diploma course at the University of Lagos. I struggled with the class and asked you some questions. I remember thinking, “Mehn, this guy is brilliant.”  

Chinazom: Not going to lie, I’m smart. LOL. I can’t explain it, but from the first time we spoke, I knew we would be friends. Sometimes, I meet people and can just sense their good vibes. This intuition has never led me astray, so I trusted it with you. It didn’t even take up to an hour to know I wanted to be your friend. 

Tunmise: Look at that! But do you think ending up on different campuses when we got admission changed our relationship? 

Chinazom: I don’t think so. I mean, you were studying microbiology, and I was studying medicine, which put us on two different campuses, but we still maintained our bond. I no longer saw you every day, and that was hard. But whenever I picked up my phone to text or call you, it felt like nothing had changed between us.

Tunmise: I agree. I don’t think there was any change. We were still tight and shit. 

Chinazom: I’d call and we’d catch up. Even when we didn’t have the answers to each other’s problems, we still found a way to make it work. You’d listen when I had issues, and I did the same. 

What makes our friendship work? 

Tunmise: One of my favourite things about you is your non-judgemental attitude. I know I can come to you with anything and you won’t make me feel bad about my choices. I tend to have a lot of women issues; my relationships with them can get crazy sometimes. But I roll up on you with the gist and you talk me through the drama. I know Nazom will be around to tell me, “Do it this way” or “Maybe you shouldn’t have said this thing.” 

We come from different backgrounds, which means we see life in different ways. It’s normal, but I’m happy I have you in my corner because you’re always willing to see things from my perspective when necessary. This type of understanding is why our friendship has lasted this long. 

Chinazom: Thanks, man. I think you’re easy to talk to. I’m not even sure you know it. It doesn’t matter if it’s just internet bants or something serious and personal to us. One thing I know is we’ll always find a middle ground. I also like that we don’t have boundaries on what we can discuss. We’ve spoken about everything from sex to how we’re dealing with mental health stress. Nothing is off-limits! It might be hard to start the conversation sometimes, but I know one way or the other, I’ll run it by you. 

Tunmise: Yes! You make me feel so comfortable, I can tell you even my most embarrassing secrets without fear. I literally start some of my messages with, “Nazom, can you imagine? The most embarrassing thing happened to me today.” And you’ll respond with something like, “What did you do again?” LOL. 

The moment I knew we were real friends

Chinazom: Now, let me tell you about the one moment I’ll never forget regarding our friendship. Remember late last year when I was going through that tough phase? 

Tunmise: Oh, yeah. 

Chinazom: I was mentally stressed and called you in the middle of the night to talk about it. It was the first time in my life I considered therapy. And with school, it was just a lot. The following day, you showed up at my building, and omo, I was surprised. Even though you had a lot of errands to run, you made time for me. We took a long drive to talk about how I was feeling, watched a movie and got something to eat after. Whenever I think about our friendship, I remember that day. I didn’t know how much I needed you until you showed up. It’s a perfect description of our friendship.

Tunmise: I’d known you for a long time, and you’d never broken down the way you did that night. It was a rare moment. I knew I had to be there to ensure you were okay. That was all I could think about. 

For me, it goes back to our diploma days. We were reading at Unilag A.k.T Library one night, and I was so disconnected from everything, I couldn’t understand what we were reading. It was scary because we had an exam the next day and nothing was clicking in my brain. 

I spoke to you about it, and you did this cool thing where you read for the both of us. You’d read from my book, process it then break it down for me in a way I could understand. It really helped me in the exam, I can’t even lie. I still appreciate you for that night, man. Thank you. 

Fight? We can’t relate 

Tunmise: I don’t think we’ve ever had a fight or argument. 

Chinazom: Hmmmmm. 

Tunmise: We’ve fought before? 

Chinazam: I can’t remember the full gist, but I know you told me about a plan you had, and I wasn’t in the best of moods, so I was rude in my response. I checked myself and apologised sha. It wasn’t that big of a deal. You really don’t remember? 

Tunmise: Nothing is coming to me. 

Chinazam: Okay, that settles it. We’ve never fought before. LOL. 

You came through for me

Tunmise: I’ve never said this before, but you helped my business, bro. When I started out selling sneakers, and I was just marketing it in person, you were the one who pushed me to set up a Twitter account and, after that, Instagram. I wasn’t sure about putting myself or business out there, but you helped me draw up a plan and all that good stuff. You probably don’t know this, but it changed my business.

Chinazom: Nice. So I like this unspoken rule that whenever one person calls the other and says they need to talk, we’re always ready to drop everything and listen, no matter what. You do that for me, and I appreciate it. When my brother was in the hospital last year, and I called you crying, you stayed on the other end and listened. It happened again in January (2022), when my classmate died and I called you. Having a space to be vulnerable means a lot to me because most male friendships don’t have that. 

Tunmise: I get that. I struggled with vulnerability too because I didn’t want to appear weak. There’s something about men crying or talking about their emotions that felt wrong to me growing up. But now, I know it’s necessary, and I can be open with you. It all comes down to not feeling judged whenever I’m around you. 

What I would change about you

Chinazom: Tumi, I feel you second-guess yourself a lot, and it’s unnecessary. You’re literally the kind of person who kills anything they set their mind to do, so I’m always shocked when you doubt yourself. Most of your calls to ask if your plan makes sense feel like you’re seeking validation or permission to do something. You don’t need it. I put a star beside your name on my phone because I think you’re a superstar. Does this doubt have anything to do with a fear of failure? 

Tunmise: Yeah, I think so. But right now, I think I’m in a different mental space where I’m willing to take more risks. 

By the way, the only thing I’d want you to change is the way you’re always fighting on Twitter. Bros, be calming down. 

This friendship has helped me open up

Tunmise: You’re one of the most selfless people I know, and it’s not just with me. Almost everyone says it.

Chinazom: Thanks, man! I feel like this friendship happens to be the first one in which I’ve fully explored what it means to be open and honest with someone. I’ve learnt I should be able to talk to my friend about anything and everything. People always put romantic relationships above friendships, but getting to know you, I understand friendship comes first. I’m taking that energy into my other friendships.

Do you have an interesting bro story you’d like to share? Fill this form and we’ll get back to you.

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