[STORY] Online Romance (episode 1-6)

Episode 1 All rights reserved. All resemblances unintended. All criticisms welcome. * * * I woke up that morning, and as was my usual ritual since the commencement of the ASUU strike, logged into facebook. I saw many notifications and carefully scanned through them. Some were comments made by some of my online friends on a photo I had uploaded about two years back. I was surprised that a photo already two years old online would garner up to five comments in a single night when it had only three for the two years it had been online. I smiled, acknowledged and responded to some of them before going to check the other notifications. Most were group and page updates. As I checked through them, I made a mental note to leave some of the groups. I hate receiving useless updates and most of the updates I saw that morning were just that. I refreshed the page to clear off the notifications I had attended to and discovered that the only ones remaining were two friend requests. The surname of the first, Paul, was familiar; it was a family in which I had two friends. Though, I didn’t know the particular person behind the name, I deduced it must belong to a sibling of my friends, Yemisi and Tayo Igbokwe. The second request was from an unfamiliar name, Tricia Ogbemudia. Her profile photo was a portrait sketch. I decided to check that first and clicked on the name. I knew where I was going to – her photos. I liked the name and hoped to like the photos too. As the page loaded, I searched my brains, trying to recollect if I had had any previous encounter with a person bearing that name. I couldn’t remember any and my curiosity was heightened. The new page opened, showing her profile photo and some details about her: she was a 300 level student of History in the famous University of Ibadan and had previously attended a polytechnic which I hadn’t heard of before. She was from my state and was a year younger than I was. Not too bad, I thought, but needed further details. Her profile picture was a sketched female portrait. Could that be her? I thought. The sketch was beautiful, but it could be of anybody. I saw that her photo count exceeded a hundred and I clicked on the “photos” icon to see them. The first photo that loaded was one of her in a sky blue, long-sleeved shirt with a black tie to match. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail and her smiling, parted lips showed a very perfect set of dentition. ‘Waoh!’ I sighed in excitement. ‘She is so beautiful!’ I clicked back so I could mentally compare both photos. They were of the same person. Though the hairstyles were different, every other feature matched. I was about to reload the photos folder when I heard a knock on my door. ‘Yes, who’s that?’ I shouted, making sure my voice reflected my displeasure. ‘Daddy says you should come out for Morning Devotion,’ sounded the voice of my little sister, five years old Eseosa. I had wasted the effort on making my voice hard; Eseosa was never considerate of such. ‘I’m coming,’ I replied, jumping off the bed and putting on a singlet. I was barely done with that when I heard the baritone voice of my dad. ‘What are you doing inside that room, my friend?’ the volume of my dad’s voice defied the barrier posed by the locked door. I wonder how he did it, his voice could penetrate any part of the house and it was obviously without much effort on his part. ‘I’m coming, sir,’ I replied and grabbed my bible from the chair beside my bed. I flung my phone on the bed and rushed to the door. I remembered with a smile how I had placed it on the chair the previous night after reading some verses from it. I had wanted to meditate on those verses – to get the inner meaning, like my pastor would say – when I fell asleep. I unlocked the door and stepped out. My sister, Ivie, was clearing her throat to lead in worship when I took a seat beside her. She eyed me and smiled knowingly before raising a song. I wondered why she was smiling, was she a witch? I ignored her and closed my eyes, but was forced to open it when we joined the singing in a chorus. My dad was boldly going off-key and his voice was loudest, the same way it reverberated around the house, penetrating even shut doors when he was angry. Ivie noticed it too. This was obvious from the smile she couldn’t suppress when our eyes met. This was my dad who never tired to repeat tales of his experience as a chorister while in secondary school. He would sit us down and tell us of how we were killing music with our unnecessary adlibbing when singing. ‘You guys rarely sing in parts nowadays, probably once in a whole year,’ he had said the last time he walked in on us while I and Ivie were arguing about the lyrics of the song we had rehearsed that evening. It wasn’t the first time we would be hearing him say so and we knew we hadn’t heard the last of it too. ‘Dad, we do, but it’s usually subtly applied as most of our songs aren’t classicals…’ Ivie tried to explain before she was interrupted by Dad once again. ‘Why aren’t they classicals? Because you guys are lazy and don’t want to learn. How I long for the old days when I was a member of the St Gregory’s choir, all our songs then were done in parts, not the repetitive tremolos you sing nowadays…’ I knew he would go on to lambast our choir mistress’ adlibbing and I wasn’t disappointed. It was useless arguing with him whenever he was in such mood. I eyed Ivie when I noticed she was about to launch into another attempt at justifying our “modern” music styles. It would only lengthen the argument and yield no positive fruits. My dad was too set in his old ways to appreciate contemporary music styles, except they were native songs. My dad was clearly in the spirit, his eyes tightly shut as he murdered the song. My mom, while being a good singer herself, didn’t seem bothered by dad’s murderous act, she swayed her head from side to side singing with relish. I quickly shut my eyes when I noticed Eseosa’s eyes on me. She could report me later of watching others while they were worshipping, an act that could prompt my dad to launch a tirade – something I wasn’t prepared for. Eseosa possessed the exclusive right to open her eyes during worship and prayers, but even she had begun imitating us. Socialization, my lecturer called it; influence, I called it. * *

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