I have this particular relationship with my phone, it involves a shared love for the game of hide and seek. I still remember the last time we played, I was seeking and she decided to go into hiding on silent mode. I called her in all sweet names I could come up with. Long story short, I lost miserably. Am I still harboring resentful feelings? I don’t know… All I’m saying is “I’m hiding next, good luck finding me.”
We weren’t always like this. There was a time we were inseparable. I was 13, young, dumb and head over heels in love with her. Our love language included the act of gifting. I bought her the loudest earphones, a colorful charger (shoot me! We loved screaming colors), daily unlimited SMSs, hell! Even a power bank. Whenever she beeped, I not only heard but also responded as soon as possible. She was a very demanding lover, one in constant need of having her keys tapped and screen lit up. I did not mind it; I was in love. I tagged her along wherever I went; from the shops, to the bathroom, and of course into my bed every night. We practically spent every waking and sleeping moment in each other’s arms. I know what you’re thinking… that it was exhausting? No, it wasn’t. We were in love and riding on that high.
Then there were my folks, a constant picture of the bitter exes in our background. They threw us occasional jealous glares that we only spotted from the corner of our eyes (seeing as we never took our eyes off each other). Sometimes the glares were accompanied by snide remarks of “mtapoteleana tu na hao marafiki unashinda ukiongelesha” (you’ll lose contact with those friends you keep talking to). I, however, was a very protective lover. I reminded my folks that they came from a time with neither mobile phones nor social media and that should explain their misguided views on my blossoming relationship.
Our honeymooning phase went by almost as fast as it came along. I remember that dreadful day, a first of many I wasn’t prepared for. I joined high school in a boarding school and had to leave my boo behind. Definitely a new phase for us. A phase to break away from our love shell. We promised each other not to be corrupted by the multitudes of people we would encounter. That our love for each other would withstand time. That the absence would only make our hearts grow fonder. I kissed her goodbye and safely tucked her away in my folks’ bedside drawer. Sarcastic right? That I trusted the bitter exes to keep my boo safe?
The first month in high school was torturous. The fantasies of all the good times we had spent together were a constant nag. I remember hallucinating with her sweet vibrations and quickly fumbling in my pockets only to be disappointed by her definite absence. This long distance was killing me and with each day my spirit was getting weaker.
I cheated. Yes, it was all me. I blame the loneliness. That definitely has to be it! Like a moth to a light bulb, I was slowly drawn into face to face interactions. Suddenly, the laughter of the girls in my school sounded sweeter than the “hahahas” on my boo’s screen. Their numerous faces lit up brighter than my boo’s only face. Heck! Even their voices were more melodious than boo’s vibrations. Before I knew it, I found myself sharing in their language of love. We would chatter away for hours and hours on end, hyping up each other’s conversations. I learnt their songs, slangs, culture and wholeheartedly threw myself into it all. Every once in a while, I would think of my lonely boo in her drawer back at home, the frown she would give me if she knew what immense happiness I had discovered without her, each time with less guilt than the preceding times.
Over the holidays I’d go back to my boo, a colder lover than the one who left. All the things I loved about her grew annoying. I found her too loud, so she adapted to staying on silent. Too colorful, then she restored her wallpaper back to default. Too heavy, so she stopped tagging along to all my ‘trips’. She even got a new case to try spice things up between us. A good compromiser she was, sometimes I wish we worked out. But what all these compromises did was allow me to peacefully ditch her.
They say your woman always knows when you are cheating on her and my boo was not any different. Eventually, she caught on and the fights began. I would be using her to catch up with my newly found 'friends' and she would drain all her charge and adamantly refuse to boot up. Whenever I fell asleep talking to her, she would overcharge and annoyingly overheat while lying right next to me. Did I mention the mysterious airtime depletion cycles she took me through? Oh no! our love was turning sour right in front of my eyes.
At the moment I blamed all these mood swings on her. I mean, we hadn’t seen each other in what, forever? And whenever I came home all she wanted to do was act up? I was fed up. Enough is enough. So, I did what we all do when our relationships go south. I told her we needed to talk, and show up she did.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” I began, “maybe we should take a break.” Cliché, right?
”Are you breaking up with me?” she asked in tears. “Who is it? Is it Sheila? Or is it Tim? Oh no, wait, I know it’s Max, It has to be Max.”
As you may already predict, I answered all this questions with an uncanny ‘NO’. Not one, not two, but three good nos. “No! No! No!” all while shaking my head in disbelief.
Of course, I was lying. It was Sheila, Tim, Max and all the others she hadn’t even mentioned. I was living off the high of seeing Frank’s head fall back whenever he laughed hysterically, the slight wrinkle on Jojo’s forehead whenever she was in doubt, catching the sarcastic tone in Wangari’s backhanded compliments, heck! Even the meanness that seemed to never leave Gracey’s face. I had unequivocally fallen for the rawness of face to face interactions. But this is not news you tell your boo when she’s crying and asking all these questions. Like all the pu**ies who came before me, I curled into my shell and lied to her. Only thing with lies is, you don’t stop at one. You keep lying and lying, digging yourself deeper and deeper into the mess.
Therefore, I reinforced my web of lies with, “look, we’ve both grown and clearly developed new interests. All I am suggesting is, maybe we should find new activities we’d both enjoying doing together.” Long story short, we settled into trying out this new game of hide and seek. A decision I found no reason to oppose.
Do I regret it? Honestly, yeah! sometimes. Whenever I’m on the receiving end of a dirty game. Like how she chooses to hide on both silent mode and low charge knowing very well I need her to meet up with akina Sky, Alex and Kid. Sometimes I think I’m stuck in an abusive relationship. You’ll probably say, “No, it can’t be that deep. She is just a phone.” But that is what she wants us all to think. You have to live with her to actually see it.
To all my friends who think I have some superpower of staying offline and unbothered for a whole week or more, now you know how it happens.
What I’ve been saying in all these words simply is, I’m a poor communicator. Or as my folks would rather I shamefully admit, they were right, “mapenzi yetu ya kila siku iliisha” (our unending love faded).
Enjoy your quarantine.