'Another Telephone Conversation' by Sam Awa

The rent was okay but location, a problem: The landlord swore he did not live in the same house.
Like a parishioner before the priest, I had to confess.
"Baba, I hate long story! I am a Nigerian."
Silence. Silence and self-contentment of a Lagos landlord.
The voice came back perhaps with a long native chewing stick with spittle dripping.
"Did you say an Ibobio or Ibo?"
…the line is breaking.
"I mean, are you from Anambra, Imo or Enugu?"
"Hold on!"
Another call I thought.
A stench from the nearby open gutter near the yellow umbrella
Yellow rickety buses screeching, raising clouds of dust.
Humiliated by long contented silence.
'Give up? Or
Continue to hold on for a reply?'
I chose the latter.


Kind-hearted, I must confess
Now describing in clear terms:
"ARE YOU FROM THE NORTH, EAST OR WEST?"
Revelation came.
"You mean an HAUSA, IGBO or YORUBA?"
His accent was deep and rhythmic with some air of indifference and pomposity.
I chose.
"SOUTH-SOUTH" (Imagining the location of my village on the map).
Another long silence
I became impatient
"Hello!" I thundered.
"Hold on!"
I could hear some sound on the background like someone tracing some point on a map.

The voice came back almost piercing my eardrum,
"WHERE'S THAT?"
Conceding, "Don't know where that is? AKWA IBOM"
"THAT'S IBO, ISN'T IT?"
"Not really.
Geographically, I'm from Akwa Ibom,
But Baba you should also be delighted to know, I'm from South-South.
No.
Niger-Delta and I speak Ibibio.
I blame contiguity.
I'm ashamed Baba—
Sheer proximity has made me sound Ibo."
Sensing his signal to drop,
Baba, abeg. I wish you could allow me to speak my language."
Ringing off, "olori buruku! WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IBO AND IBOBIO?"
E-x-c-u-s-e m-e B-a-b-a...wouldn't you rather see me face to face?" Your Ad Here