Home Telephone Conversation-Wole Soyinka

Telephone Conversation-Wole Soyinka


The price seemed reasonable, location.
─░ndifferent. The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
But self-confession. “Madam,” ─░ warned,
“─░ hate a wasted journey-I am African.”
Silence. Silenced transmission of
Pressurized good-breeding. Voice, when it came,
Lipstick coated, long gold-rolled
cigarette-holder pipped. Caught I was foully.
“HOW DARK?’…I had not misheard…”ARE YOU
OR VERY DARK?” Button B. Button A. Stench
of rancid breath of public. Hide and speak.
Red booth. Red pillar-box. Red double-tiered
omnibus squealching tar. It was real. Shamed
By ill-mannered silence, surrender
Pushed dumbfounded to beg simplification.
Considerate she was, varying the emphasis-
“ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT?” Revelation came.
“You mean- like plain or milk chocolate?”
Her assent was clinical, crushing in its light
Impersonality. Rapidly, wavelength adjusted,
I chose. “West African Sepia”- and as afterthought,
“Down in my passport.” Silence for spectroscopic
Flight of fancy, till truthfulness changed her accent
Hard on the mouthpiece “WHAT’S THAT?” Conceding
“DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS” “Like brunette”
“THAT’S DARK ISN’T IT?” “Not altogether.”
Facially, I am brunette, but madam, you should see
the rest of me. Palm of my hand, soles of my feet
Are a peroxide blonde. Friction caused-
foolishly madam-by sitting down, has turned
My bottom raven black-one moment madam!” Sensing
Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap
About my ears-” “Madam,” I pleaded, “Wouldn’t you
see for yourself?

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