Tag Archives: conversation

This is what working in my house sounds like.

Yesterday one of the mums in the new playgroup I tried out with Tot asked me what I did and I told her.

“Really? How do you work? What does he do when you work?”

“He plays by himself,” I said.

“Oh.” I could see her regard me out of the corner of her eye, trying to consider whether the ‘worthiness’ of being an’ artist’ outweighed her suspected neglect of my offspring. And whether – maybe – she should call someone.

“What language is that you’re speaking to him?” she asked instead.

“Igbo. It’s a Nigerian language.”

“I read a book about Nigeria recently,” she started slowly.

“Yeah?” I responded, knowing what she was going to say.

“Yeah, it is called ‘Half of a Yellow Sun.'”

Of course. “That’s about Igbo people.”

“I thought it might be! My goodness. Do you know, I knew nothing about the Biaf…Biafra? at all before that.”

I knew then she would not call social services. And I thanked God for the book which had enlightened her.

But to answer your question Mother-at-playgroup, this is what it sounds like when I am trying to do some work. I forgot the recorder as soon as I put it on which is why it runs for as long as it does (3 minutes). It was meant to be shorter.

It starts off with me reading back what I have just written after I switch on the recorder, hence the bit of silence from me while Tot babbles on.

A is for Anuofia

“Hey.”

I took a sip of my drink before turning. “Hi.”

“You know it’s a party. What are you having?” The man standing in front of me had his hands on the pockets of his trousers. “Water?”

“Vodka.”

“Really? Isn’t that a bit strong for a girl like you?” I looked the man in front of me up and down, trying to decide if I should waste my energies on a put-down.

“Know a lot of girls like me, do you?”

“I was just asking.”

“You were just telling.”

“Geez, gimme a break. I was just trying to start conversation.”

“You should have thought very carefully about what you wanted to say before you said it.” He rolled his eyes. “I tell you what? I’ll wait. You go back to where you were standing and come over again.”

“I don’t need to.” He flashed what was supposed to be a smile. I took in the rows of clenched teeth, feeling a buzz start in my head. This was not my granny.

“You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you?”

“Yes, it is a good party. Don’t they look happy?” I gestured at the bride and groom-to-be. He did not follow my arm.

“You know what I mean.” His eyes gave the impression of someone dropping off to sleep. His voice was anything but.

“Yes I do and there is nothing to enjoy particularly.” I felt my shoulders move. “You made a point, I made mine.”

“Well…” A man stood in front of him, blocking out his words. “I’m talking to her,” he said, pushing the man aside.

“I saw. I want to talk to her too. Hey, I’m Tunde,” the newcomer bent towards me. Even sitting on a bar stool as I was, he was considerably taller. “Whatever he is saying to you, ignore him. I’m the one you should be talking to.”

“Hi, Tunde. I take it you two know each other?” I realised I was holding my breath.

“Yeah, he’s my friend.” Tunde crossed his arms. “I am really digging your afro you know. Why do these bits curl like that?” He tugged on the hair laying on my forehead.

“Err…they just do.” His friend turned away and started speaking with some other people. I could see that he was half-listening to our conversation. “Listen, you should have a sip of my drink,” I said to Tunde.

“Why?”

“Your breath is …not so fresh?”

“Really?” Tunde cupped his palm and breathed in. He made a face. “Ugh. Gimme.” He took a swig and breathed into his palm again. He raised an eyebrow.

“Breathe on me.” He obliged. “Yeah, smells a bit better. What?” I asked.

Tunde shook his head. “That has never happened to me before.”

“I’m sorry if I embarrassed you, that wasn’t my intention. I figured I’d rather tell you than let you walk around like that.”

“No, no. I’m amazed, yes, but I’m also…you know you’re something.”

“Not really.”

“I like you. We should hang out more often.” Tunde turned around as his friend tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me.” They whispered. Tunde made a face. “Excuse me,” he said again and walked off.

“Now why did you do that?” I asked his friend.

“He was interuptting. Now where were we? Oh yes, you were about to give me your number.”

“I was not. I’m here with my boyfriend.”

“Which one is he?” I pointed at a group standing near the speakers. He searched the faces and shrugged. “You should give me your number.”

“You should give me yours, if it suits. I might call you sometime but just as friends.”

“Trust me, we wouldn’t stay just friends for very long.” I groaned inwardly. He punched some buttons on his phone and the screen lit up. “What’s your name anyway? I’m Femi.”

“I’m Nwunye.” His hand hovered.

“You’re Igbo?”

“Last I checked.”

“That’s a shame.”

“Excuse me?” I threw my head back, laughing. “Wait. You’re serious.”

“As a heart attack.” Femi pocketed his phone and turned to leave, bumping into Tunde.

“Sorry, I had to check on my car. Femi said I left it open but I knew I didn’t. So….like I said, we should hang out. Can I have your number?”

“No.” I shook my head for emphasis.

“No?”

“No.”

“Damn. You’re so blunt. I thought we were having a good time. Might I ask why?”

“Your friend. He’s a dick.” I finished my vodka and turned the glass face down on the bar. “And he’s your friend.”