No sex, no strings…
Fiddling with Mandy (that’s what you named your smartphone), running your fingers all over her contours… You are both used to each other now, nearly four months after you bought her freedom; she is a custodian of many new secrets of yours, she knows the right notes to treat your ears to when you need to reach out to the coy lady called Sleep, and even though she is lazy and often requires that you feed her with energy bars on frequent basis, she responds to your every touch, she knows where to go, and you don’t get to miss Alice so much anymore…..
And then the call comes in. Your thumb shies away from the green button, partly because the hiplife music blaring from the pub’s speakers would drown your throaty voice, and partly because you cannot trust your internet service provider with a Whatsapp call, but the caller’s profile picture is clear enough, so you easily deduce who it is that is trying to reach out to you. It’s Kemi…..
And it all comes back to you; that evening thirty-two months ago when the rickety bus coughed its way into the lodge reserved for corps members, the near-instant chemistry, the unrelenting rain at the town’s local market the following day and the zinc roof under which you both took cover, the khaki jacket with which you draped her, the decent jollof rice which she conjured with sparse ingredients, the Sundays she chided you for skipping church in response to which you’d ask her if she knew where the town’s solitary mosque was located, the weekend where you paced up and down your bedroom because you were unsure of what you’d do if the texture of her skin teased your face one more time, the shouting match between her and the waitress on your birthday, the slender figure which belied the fact that she had seen five calendars hung on her living room wall before you showed up. It comes back to you, all of it.
The profile picture features a baby on her arm, standing outside what looks like a cinema, with another lady who is probably a relative, taking by the hand a child who couldn’t possibly be more than five. Conversations and topics of interest would be different; more of diaper brands and less criticism of your “burial music” (if she even cared to remember), more of the cheaper supermarkets to get groceries and less of social media posts (she never quite got your thought patterns anyway). You have your dreams, but her ambitions are different now: a pot of soup here, a burdened nipple there, with the glitter from a portion of her left hand acting as a reminder of the wedding you failed to attend. She still thinks of you at least, and unlike you, doesn’t seek solace in melancholic songs.