Sooo…..for today, I no wan throwback o, na dial I wan dial…waaaay back too. Like Ijapo primary school, Akure back; I think I was in 4th/5th grade, circa 1984/85. I’m telling you that school is the reason I have a thing with the color purple, but no wahala, have a therapist working on that. So, why that far? Well for one thing, that’s how my mind works o, my dear; don’t know why, stopped trying to decipher (hey, my first big word of the week 🙂
Aaanywhen, one minute couldn’t get the tune of The Boys’ song ‘Dial My Heart’ out of my head, so I was bopping to it, jejeli o, and the next thing I knew my mind’s eye begin to dey wander. I see my dad walk into our living room one evening from work. In one hand he had his ‘wrist bag’ and in the other he carried a funny-looking, bulky…box? I think. Oooh, now I’m remember, it’s the day my dad first brought home NITEL’s standard issued rotary phone.
Aaah, those were the days, jare; when your lunch (don’t judge me!) consisted of rice sans stones, ewa and stew with fish for 50 kobo. Those shiny coins were carefully counted out. On good days, we topped our food with a bottle (yelz my dear, bottle) of Coke/Africola for 25 kobo. Kai, and if ‘Mama Bazooka’ (again, yes the woman name her son after ‘shin gom’) was feeling good you can even get dodo for extra 5 kobo.
Anywhen, Daddy was busy fidgeting with wires that ran from the wall behind the cabinet by the dining table to this strange looking device. Ok, so I knew it was a phone, but what is it doing here in our house?
“Daddy, what is that?” I finally asked.
Without turning around, he answered “That’s a phone.”
“Why? What does it do?”
“Well you can call people with it.” He said, still focused on what he was doing.
“Duhiii!” I know that, the question I really wanted to ask was what’s it doing here? But knowing my dad, I think we were done playing 20questions. Honestly, I really could care less. I just wanted him to be done already, move away from this new toy so I can have at it. And sure enough he was done. I could have sworn there was a glowing ring floating above this bulky green thingy…sorry telephone.
I approached it slowly. I picked up what I later learnt was called the handset and put it to my ear, I heard a strange lingering tone coming from the other end. After a few seconds, the tone began to annoy me. It only stopped when I stuck my finger in one of the holes with a number above it, and rolled it all the way to the right. I can still hear that gritty, dragging sound ‘sik uuuuhn’ as I rolled the dial, and it rolled back in place. Then we had a staring contest.
Now what? I whispered.
“I don’t know you tell me, genius.”
I swear that phone was a saucy somebody. Ooooh it’s on now. Not sure what I’m fitna do with this here contraption, but I will figure something out.
The next day you can imagine the buzz on our dusty playground at recess. The boys weren’t playing pretend world cup with their makeshift football made of paper; and the girls were not rousing clay dust with their feet playing a competitive game of ’10-10’ (I can still hear the chattering sound of hand claps and foot stumps, followed by a repetitive chorus ‘10-10, 10-10’. Oy make them stop, Jaysus!
Anyway, none of the usual activities for us o, hell Mama Bazooka waited a good while under the tree with her steaming hot, soft and chewy buns. No o. Today na today, our playground was boisterous in a different sort of way. It was like an open air market place; actually more like the floor of the Wall Street stock market.Finally, paper was being used the way it was meant to be used for writing, phone numbers. The chorus was different now- it was ‘did your daddy bring a phone yesterday? Me too! What’s your number?’ Just then, I remembered a small piece of paper taped to the front of the phone, it had something written in my dad’s all block letter hand writing ‘232-910’. I guess that’s our number.