Being a good listener……

“…..and I don’t even know what to do. She says she still wants to be with me but acts like she doesn’t. In fact, I’m just tired, tired of this whole….”

So was I; tired of listening. Again, my friend, Segun had called me to regale me with stories of the intricacies of his love life (and, believe me, his love life is beyond intricate). Like the faithful friend and the good listener that I am, I have been listening to him moan about his girlfriend for the past twenty minutes, throwing in the requisite “what?!”, “how?”, “when?” and “don’t mind the silly idiot” at the right places and sounding rather interested in the moan fest. In reality, I would rather be watching teletubies or slitting my wrists but then, I’m being a good friend, right?

Sometimes, I would rather I were deaf (no offense to deaf people) so I didn’t have to listen to some people yammer away at what they imagine is the most interesting story in the world while every minute you spend listening to them convinces you that you are becoming increasingly suicidal. And I don’t even know how I got the reputation of being listener general that everyone, from my grandfather to that man that fixes broken furniture on the next street, feels they just have to pour out their woes to me. I’m woeful enough as it is, do I really need to add other people’s woes to mine? I mean, come on!

And actually, I have a mathematical equation for it:

My woes + Other people’s woes = Woe Lord + slit wrists

Dear Lord, I don’t want to slit my wrists.

God forbid!

Sometimes I try to deflect the barrage with very little success most times. Last week, Peter called (no doubt, to fill my ears with every detail of his latest trip to somewhere even further than the last place he last filled my ears with. I really should suggest he write a book so I can read everything at once instead of taking up over an hour of my life each time he sees an airport) and I was extremely reluctant to pick his call. But I’m a good friend, and good friends don’t leave their friends hanging. I had to pick his call. He spoke first.

“What’s up?” he asked, sounding rather somber, which was very unlike him. Well, I thought, hope unlike him, he takes up less of my time on this call.

“I’m good.” I replied. “What’s up with you?”

“Guy, plenty!” aha, the Peter we all know. “I just got back from Milan. Guy the place make sense die!” I was right; I was going to listen to stories of lands afar. “I even go watch match for San Siro, see as the stadium big! Dem come dey make noise, e be like say I go deaf! Some people come start fight near where I siddon, omo as I see knife, see race! Police come……”

“Mr. Peter, I’m in an important meeting right now. You can call me later in the day. Why not call Segun or Tola right now?”

“Ehnn? Who be mista Peter? You done dey form yankee abi?” he responded. “Okay na, no wahala. I go call you later.”

Click; the line went dead.

I heaved a sigh of relief. I was already getting funny stares from around the meeting table.

Exactly five minutes later, my phone vibrated again. Peter. I reasoned that, as I’d already told him I was busy, and he’d said he would call later, whatever it was he was calling about had to be pretty important. It had better been, anyway.  I pushed the answer button.

“Hello,” I said, taking care to omit the name so I didn’t get more curious stares from across the board.

“Eh, guy, de meeting don finish?” he didn’t let me respond. “ Ehen, e get this babe wey I bin sight for dat side, guy, dis girl fine die! Sexy Italo chick like dis. I come jam am, we come dey reason. As we dey reason, I dey tell mysef say, if I capshure dis wan, I don hammer better chick be dat! Omo, she come gree for me, omo she like me die! In fact, she talk say….”

See what I suffer all the time? And no, the meeting wasn’t over yet.

Or last week Thursday. I’d returned very late from work and I was dog tired! And I still had to leave home early the following morning so I could meet up with a medical appointment before setting out for work so I was only too grateful to slip in between the sheets and nod off. I had sailed approximately halfway to the land of sweet and dreamless sleep when an insistent buzzing broke my peaceful drift of extreme quiet. My eyelids reluctantly fluttered open but my brain still couldn’t point out what It was. After a while it stopped. I didn’t care. Whatever it was, as long as it had stopped buzzing, good for it and good for me. I turned over in my bed and wrapped the duvet tighter around me.

The buzzing started again, and this time, my brain took no time figuring it out. It was my phone.

I glanced at my glow-in-the-dark bedside digital clock. What person in their right mind would call anyone at the unholy hour of 2:30am? Whoever it was, it had better been extremely important, else there would be hell to pay.

I picked the phone from the bedside table and checked the caller id. Sandra it was, a close friend’s girlfriend. She was also a good friend of mine (not in any nasty way, for those of you with dirty minds!) and another person whose repertoire of interminable stories was simply envious. Her specialties were stories of sadness, woe and many complaints. However, she had never before called me at this time of the night. Had to be something important. Ha, why always me? I thought, grudgingly considering picking the call. Why couldn’t they take their important stuff elsewhere? In fact, I’d had enough. I wasn’t going to take this anymore. If she couldn’t find someone else to help her out, too bad then. I would let the call ring itself out then turn off my phone.

“Hello, Sandra” I said (yes, I ended up foolishly picking the call. I can’t help it! I need help o!). Still, I sounded very tired and a bit annoyed. “What’s up?”

She didn’t pick up on the tired or “bit annoyed”, obviously.

I heard a sob then a sniff; “It’s Emeka.”

I sat up sharply.  Emeka was my close friend and her boyfriend. If she was calling at this time of the day about him, then something had to be seriously wrong. Emeka was one person that I knew could handle anything on his own and I don’t remember anyone ever calling to inform me that he needed my help. Now Sandra was on the line and sounded like he was involved in something bad or something bad had happened to him. Maybe he was lying critically ill in a hospital, swinging between life and death….or he might have been involved in a ghastly accident…..or…

“What happened to Emeka,” I asked, forcing calm I clearly did not feel.

“I don’t know what’ up with him,” she replied.


“Is anything wrong?” I asked, beginning to suspect that I probably shouldn’t be worried at all.

“Yes, he has been acting like he doesn’t want to be in this relationship anymore.”

This rabbit…this okporoko had called me at 2:30am to tell me that she felt her relationship was not doing so good? Couldn’t she have waited till morning before blaring the news? I was of a good mind to insult both her parents before dropping the call (nothing to do with them of course, but I was so angry! The fish!), but as a good friend and a good listener, I had to let her off lightly.

“But Sandra,” I said. “You could have waited till morning before calling. This is 2:30 AM and I….” I was about launching into a reveal-all about how late I had returned from, how tired I was and how I would have to leave early later in the morning so I needed a good rest. She beat me to speech.

“I’m so worried, I can’t sleep,” she wailed, cutting me off. So I must not sleep either, ba? I thought to myself. Meanwhile Emeka, the reason for her calling would probably be curled up somewhere, snoring for all his worth. “You know how much I love Emeka and how much I cherish our relationship. I don’t want to lose him to some trashy, skanky brat somewhere…..”

I was so close to calling her a trashy, skanky brat.

This is so going to be a looooooong night, I thought to myself.

“Okay, what has been happening?” I asked instead.

“He doesn’t call me as much as he used to,” she moaned. “Emeka usually calls like 5-6 times every day. Now he only “manages” to call three or four times a day.” She should ask me how many times I call my girlfriend a day. “He used to come over to my place after work every day but now, each time I call him at closing hour, he tells me he is still at work.” I wanted to point out to her that he had recently been promoted to a position that required more work and longer hours but I was too tired to even bother. “We usually go out every weekend to the beach or somewhere fun but now he says we should just stay in and enjoy each other’s company.” And what, if I may ask ladies, IS WRONG WITH THAT? “Sometimes, I just feel like….”

Suddenly, I stopped hearing her voice. Call must have dropped though I didn’t hear the usual beeps that accompanied dropped calls. I didn’t care anyways; I was rather deeply grateful to the errant network for once. I didn’t get to know what she feels like but again, I still didn’t care. I just knew that I was drifting into the world of formless forms.

Then my eyes fluttered open and I heard a voice speaking directly into my ear. Alarm gripped me. Was I having some sort of spiritual encounter? The last thing i need was hearing spirits at this time of the night.  I thought it wise to listen carefully to be sure if it really was a spiritual being speaking and to learn what message the being was trying to pass across to me.

“……and Emeka didn’t even say anything. He just stood there laughing while I died a little inside….”

Igbo and weed, it was still Sandra! The network providers hadn’t done me any favors as I had thought. Neither did the fish brain go silent. I had quite drifted off to sleep, and my bedside clock told me I had been asleep for at least 10 minutes! How come she hadn’t noticed that the person she was speaking with hadn’t responded for ten whole minutes? See why I call her fish brain? Not to her face, anyway. Good for me that she didn’t notice anyway, I thought.

“Ah, that is so embarrassing,” I threw in helpfully, having no idea at all about what was supposed to have killed her a little inside.

“Really embarrassing, thank God you understand. But your friend just stood there laughing…”

“How unfair of him,” I interjected.

“Yes it was so unfair! I asked him later on why he laughed but he only laughed some more….”

“Inexcusable behavior,” I added. I was actually beginning to enjoy this.

“Totally inexcusable! I mean, how could he do that to me, his girlfriend?” She had started out sad and moody but now she sounded quite ticked. Time to apply some caution, I guess. “The least he could Have done was not to laugh at me.”

“I’m soo sorry that happened. I apologize on his behalf. He was just being crazy. You know Emeka is a crazy guy.

“You are a good friend,” back to sad and moody. “If only your friend could be a better boyfriend to me.”

What could I say to this? I knew Emeka to be a good enough boyfriend, better than most other guys especially as regards how he treats his girlfriend. If she was looking for something better, then she might as well start searching for dead saints.

I grunted an agreement/a disagreement.

“It’s just so great that you understand. I hope you can talk to your friend and let him know how I feel about the turn the relationship has taken of recent…” what, and get another epistle when he tries to recount his side of the story? No way! “….have you been sleeping?”

Rats, so the okporoko noticed after all.

“No,” I lied.

“I thought I heard snoring sometime,” and didn’t notice that I hadn’t spoken for ten minutes? Obviously, nothing got past this girl. “Anyways, please talk to your friend. I want all this resolved as soon as possible, we can’t carry on like this.” What, how have they been carrying on? Infact, i really didn’t want to know.

“I will,” I promised, hoping it would hasten the end of this conversation. Instead, it was a gateway for her to commit me into making more promises.

“Could you also tell him that I’m not comfortable with those his co-workers that come over during the weekends? They watch matches with him and make too much noise. They’re really like little kids. Could you tell him to, y’know, ask them to come less or something?” Or something meaning “not ever again”.

There was no way I was going to tell Emeka that. Still, I grunted an agreement/a disagreement. Anything to get the call to end.

“Could you also….”

I gave up on sleep for the night.

I don’t even know what time it was that she finally rang off but I know a few hours had passed and I had stopped listening long ago. The only thing I heard were the magic words “we’ll talk later” and I agreed hastily but in my mind, I was going to blacklist her number as soon as the call was over so this would never happen again. When she finally dropped the call, I felt like a prisoner being let out of jail. I didn’t even bother returning my phone to its place on the bedside table or even making myself more comfortable. I just drifted off, my head rested against the bed’s headboard and my left elbow leaning on a pillow.

I had slept for what I felt was about five minutes when my bedside alarm went off. Chai, I thought. Hope this thing is wrong, I pray it’s wrong. I opened one bleary to look at the bedside clock and the wall clock. Both told me the same thing; time to get up or be late for everything.

I muttered curses as I dragged myself off the bed and off to the bathroom. See what that croaker had caused. And now she must be enjoying her own sleep in her bed. Or pinging away at those her silly friends. If I laid my fingers on her ehn……


So if someone driving ahead of you on the bridge suddenly veers off and nosedives into the lagoon, it could be me. Yes, listening so much has made me that manic.

And if it’s me, I advise you to ask the police to arrest Sandra for extensive damage to human psyche.

But I’m still a great listener, right?

10 thoughts on “Being a good listener……” by nnandez (@nnandez)

  1. This is a lovely piece, kept me hooked and entertained to the end. beautiful work.

  2. My advice to you, keep you fone on permanent silence for friends, and take long walks everytime you are free. That way you will not become a basketcase that you’re tilting towards. That said, really interesting piece. Good job.

  3. I am so happy i read this.
    You are quite good.

  4. @nnandez, really funny.My advice, get an answering machine and screen your calls. :-)

  5. This is indeed one of the very best of narrative I have read on NS.WELL DONE.

  6. hahahahahahaha nice one. another minus for telecoms.

  7. This was very entertaining.

  8. Okay…I couldn’t contain my laughter in so many parts of this story but it explored a hilarious truth – some people just don’t know when to shut up!

    Interesting story…good fiction, lit up my day…however I think it deserves a better and more attractive title.

    well done!

    1. Yes o! It needs a better and more attractive title! But this was all i could come up with at short notice….I could be quite hopeless with titles!

  9. Hilarious. Totally enjoyed this

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