Our columnist has a special corner – for his mobile phone.
Most homes I know have a special corner in a special room. Sometimes it is a small prayer area, at other times it holds a desk with books or knick-knacks (keys, lip gloss, a receipt from the ophthalmologist). Occasionally, it is kept free and clean to anchor a painting or drawing above it.
We have a special corner too – it’s for the mobile phone. It’s the only area indoors where the signal is so good that we can actually hear the voice on the other end of the line. The voice on the phone can hear us too. Communication is a two-way street, and this is the only patch in the house where a phone call can be both made and received.
When the phone rings anywhere else, one of us rushes to grab it while the other rushes with equal speed to the special corner. That way we save time and ensure that the caller doesn’t hang up thinking we aren’t going to respond. Some of the sharp replies from me can be put down to the fact that after such athletic feats, the call is from someone selling insurance or land coveted by the rich and famous.
It was a happy system, worked well enough and improved our phonecatching skills as well as our furnitureavoiding techniques while running. Only once did I actually trip and fall, and the ‘Oww!’ with which I began the conversation was taken to mean just the second half of ‘hellowww’.
But now the corner has turned a corner, and we have to rush outdoors to get the signal, enquire after people’s welfare and tell the plot-seller where he can keep his plot from public view. That, in near 40-degree temperature, is causing friends to surmise that I’ve been to the Australian outback for the summer.
‘So how was Australia?’ they ask, pointing to the manly tan I wear (not so much around a ear, though, which confuses everybody).
‘Still there,’ I answer casually, like a politician who neither acknowledges nor denies a statement.
Friends who know of this technical problem at home ensure they call as often as they can on any given day and imagine my running out into the blazing sun just to answer the phone.
I suspect this is happening to a lot of people in my city. I suspect too that future historians will look at some gravestones and wonder what epidemic finally got the lot of us. He answered the phone sounds like a euphemism.
Now we have to rush OUTDOORS to get the SIGNAL and enquire after people’s WELFARE, which, in near 40-degree TEMPERATURES, is causing friends to SURMISE that I’ve been to the Australian OUTBACK