March 15th – |Cable Connections
“Are you home?” The signature notification sound for an incoming message on Whatsapp was background as he collapsed into a chair in his quaint sitting room. He fiddled with the remote control of the television and tapped on the Whatsapp icon at the same time.
Suddenly, the sitting room went pitch black as her voice reached him. “Hellooo.”
“Oh shit!” He swore, irritated.
“Hello?” Her voice losing its initial friendly tone, replacing it with an inquiring one.
Collecting himself together, he spoke. “Hey Esohe. Sorry. PHCN just did their thing.”
“Oh, ndo.” She paused. “That means you’re home.”
He stretched out on the seater, flinging the control in the dark. “Got in a few minutes ago and was settling in to watch Suits. Don’t have the strength or will power to get the generator going.”
“Use Harvey’s. “And she laughed at her own joke.
“He’s not the only character there, you…”
“But I bet he’s the reason you watch Suits.”
“And Mike too.”
“Because his arrogance is the size of Nigeria.”
“Confidence, woman, confidence. There’s a difference.”
“There’s confidence, and then there’s Harvey Specter.”
“But you watch the series anyway…”
“Sometimes. More because Rachael just got engaged to royalty.”
“Ah…the romance angle always gets to women.”
“I also see Jamestown, Grey’s Anatomy, Empire and Madam secretary…when I have the time for reruns.”
“What?! No Telemundo, or is it Zeeworld?”
“Stereotype much!” Esohe shot back, half-teasing.
“My bad. I apologise. A 95% statistic of Nigerian households (hear: Nigerian women) informed my wayward question.””
“I’m part of the 5%.”
“An unusual, impressive 5%.”
“Who will not ask what football club you support.”
IK roared with laughter. “I deserved that.”
Her voice reflected his amusement. “Good night IK. Thanks for calling.”
The play date at the amusement park had unscrewed a nut in their acquaintance; there was more fluidity and a somewhat relaxing of Esohe’s defences around IK. When she sent him an appreciation message for the date later that night, he responded with a call, and ignited a communication route between them.
Their contact became frequent and, sometimes, frivolous; easy banter between budding friends and two people who recognized the chemistry lurking in the corner.
She whatsapped or texted; he responded with a call. A message from him meant he couldn’t talk at the moment. The calls, happening at the end of the day, were like unspoken ways to unwind for both of them while getting to each other, revealing their goofy sides, human sides, emotional and other sides.
Once when he didn’t call back as usual after her message the night before, she called in the morning. “Are you still asleep?” The incredulous tone made her voice slightly louder than she had intended.
“I was caught in that traffic last night.” He slurred; his voice heavy with sleep; she strained to make out the words. “Got in at 4am.” A sizeable amount of the population of the town had been victims of a monstrous traffic situation the night before that was the only topic on social media almost throughout, with people giving instant status reports of their movements (or lack thereof) and happenings in different locations of the town.
“Oh my. Sorry. “ She sympathised. “I left work early. So I dodged it completely. So sorry. Let me allow you sleep.” She paused. “But don’t you have anything lined up for…IK? IK?” Soft sounds of mild snoring floated down the line to her ears. She cut the connection.
And with every call (or message) she imagined the starring role his cracked screen played. For some reason, she couldn’t wipe the image from her mind’s eye every time thoughts of IK surfaced which was becoming quite often to her amusement and concern.
Didn’t he feel awkward brandishing it in public? Or uncomfortable when he had to pull out the device which must be pretty often? Why hadn’t anyone of his friends said anything about it to him? Or had they and he had ignored it? Or were they in a similar boat? Or didn’t just care?
Should she say something? Find out why he was carrying a smashed ‘phone screen around proudly? Contrary to Alero’s assertions, he didn’t come across as broke. Neither was he insanely wealthy by a long short. During the play date, he had footed every whim of the children without batting an eyelid, and after his curt refusal to her suggestion that she at least, chipped in something, she never broached the topic again.
But it was getting harder, by the day, to get past his ‘phone situation – physically and psychologically. It was like the Great Wall of China obstructing any exploration of their chemistry. The way she saw it; if he didn’t take care of his ‘phone, what were the chances that he’d take care of her in a relationship? Yes, her thinking was flawed but she couldn’t help herself. In her opinion, the way a man treated some of the things in his life – his car, his devices – signalled his attitude towards his woman.
She was doomed! Comparing herself to inanimate, unfeeling objects! And she was yet to go on a first date with the man in question!
Nevertheless, the calls continued, and she began to look forward to their frequent three-times weekly (sometimes more), nightly chats.
“What are your plans for the long Easter weekend?” His husky raspy voice caressed her eardrums. There are two shows I have tickets to. Will you be my plus one?”
“Are they children-friendly? My mum will be out of town until after the holidays.”
“And there goes another opportunity to spend time with you alone.”
“We could do something else with the children.” She suggested tentatively. “Go see a movie, perhaps. Sherlock Gnomes just came out.”
He was silent for a beat. “Yeah, we could. Let me check if Nadine’s game, and get back to you.”
As the connection broke, Esohe had a nagging feeling IK’d have rather not included the children in the outing. What was she thinking? Hadn’t he said that much?! And who could blame him? Their first date was still hanging in the balance and the Easter holidays had only just presented another opportunity, but it was inconvenient timing for her.
Or was it, really?