“Is the cable connected?”
“Yes it is.”
“Maybe the WiFi network isn’t strong enough?”
“But it is streaming videos fast on my phone.”
“Let’s try again.” I loaded the documents again, pressed the button on the printer and clicked Print on my laptop.
“It’s not scanning.”
“Maybe it doesn’t have a scanner.”
“It says it has now…see,” I read the inscription on the Printer again, “Print. Copy, Scan.”
“So, kilode ti ko scan?”
“Bring the laptop.” She collected the laptop from me.
We had been battling with the new copier for close to an hour. It was 3-in-1 – Copier, Printer and Scanner. The software cd had been installed. We had accessed the program in the start menu. We dotted the I’s and crossed the t’s. Several papers littered the room, bed, floor, table, everywhere. Wire cables snaked all around the floor, you had to tiptoe to find a footing for your leg. I had some work I urgently needed to send out. It was due that night. But we just couldn’t figure how to go about getting the machine to scan. I tried all I knew to do. And when she saw how frustrated I was becoming, she came and assisted. It was 12:30am. Sunday church service was in few hours, we needed to sleep but I needed the work to go.
“What again can we do that we have not done?” I got up and left her with the laptop. I started rehearsing my apology speech. I began searching for the right words to use that would not make me appear to be lying but would also make them warm towards my not meeting the deadline. Scanning a document should be one of the simplest things ever to do, but…it wasn’t going to be the night.
I started ironing the clothes for church. And I watched as she kept fiddling with the stuff.
“Baby, go to bed. I will sort it out when we are back from church or go Hilton to send it.”
I wasn’t sure she heard me. She kept at it. She turned the power off from the source and restarted the machine. She turned the Wifi off too. She checked all the cables again and opened the laptop one more time. She sat there and stayed at it. I finished ironing and arranged the things for church. I was about lying down when I heard her loud sigh.
“It’s alright, baby. I will get it done later today. I will send them a text and a mail when we wake up and apologize for the delay. It’s no big deal. They will probably get upset for a while and we will move on from there.”
She got up and stretched her back. “I’ve done it. Come and send.” Her eyes shone with delight.
“You what?!” I sat straight up, in between disbelief and relief.
“It’s done. Come and mail them the documents. I resized them and saved in a folder on the desktop.” She felt elated and turned the laptop in my direction.
“What did you do?” I stood and stared at her.
“I don’t know why the option never crossed our minds the whole time. I got tired of the whole thing, then it suddenly occurred to me to Google the product. I did and watched a Youtube video on how to scan with it. That’s all.”
“I’ve created a scanner shortcut on the desktop to make it easier going forward.”
“Please send now. It’s already late. I need a shower.” She said. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” She hummed a chorus feeling cool as the other side of a pillow as she went to the living room. Satisfied. Accomplished.
I picked up my laptop and opened my mail box. I typed and attached the files.
—And slowly but steadily, it came – You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first. Subtle. Unhurried. Poisonous. Toxic—
She came back in. Still humming the same chorus. She inspected the clothes I just ironed. “Olami, this is not what I want to wear.”
“But that’s what you brought out!”
She turned sharply and looked at me. “Are you okay?”
“How do you mean?”
“The way you answered as if we are fighting. I don’t know. You seem a bit distant.”
“Sorry. Fatigue, probably.”
—You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first.
Subtle. Unhurried. Poisonous. Toxic. Venomous. Cancerous—
“Have you sent the mail?”
“Do you have Anchor meeting after first service?”
“The children have rehearsals tomorrow. That’s where I will be during 2nd service.”
You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first. You should have figured it out first.
Subtle. Slow. Poisonous. Creeping in Fast. Cancerous. Eating up my insides. Spreading all over.
It flexed her talons and pounced on me. Like a monster. Self-possessed. Poisonous. Nostrils pouring off smoke. Wings like a bat encircling me and pinning me down. Scales cold as ice. Claws ripping me off to flesh and bones. Sharp teeth slitting my skin through amour. Her fangs sank onto my neck. I winced in agony.
Even though I had met the deadline I was consumed by this aggressive demon, beating me up and reminding me that my wife got it first. And if I am the man I should have gotten it first! I should be the one who got things fixed. I should be the one who had all the answers. The one who stayed at it till it’s done. The one who always figured it out.
My ego was all over the place. I didn’t want a Participation Award, I wanted to hoist the Grand Prize Trophy. Partnership and Contribution didn’t feel good enough, Self-Aggrandizement and Lone Glorification was aboriginal. To win all the time. To know the answer all the time. To get it fixed all the time. To be perfect all the time. That in my marriage score card, my grade should be mountain high and hers….sea deep. The fangs sank in deeper.
As much as the success was supposed to be an exciting way to end the night for the two of us, it came with a demonic gloomy blanket that enveloped the room. She sensed the spirit’s entrance and she searched for what door it came through. And she wondered if she was responsible for the opening. How could things have gone wrong when all she did was help and support? How was she to know my need for validation was strongly tied to being capable of fixing stuff?
“Did I upset you?”
“You’ve been unusually quiet, I’m wondering if I said anything that upset you.”
“Not at all. Just tired.”
“Then come to bed. It’s late.”
There she was in an ebullient mood for the battle she had just conquered expecting an effusive appreciation from whom she conquered it for. And there I was jealous of ‘her’ victory, bitter about ‘her’ help. For as long as I continued to see us in a rivalry or separate, I would be unable to receive help.
I shut down the laptop, turned off the copier and packed them away.
Then my phone beeped. She was closer to it, she picked it up. A brief conversation ensued.
“They’ve replied your mail!” She announced. “They’ve gotten the documents and they are grateful you were able to send them before the deadline.”
“Thanks once again.”
She turned wanting to be sure she heard right. For the first time that night she felt the gratitude registered. It was not mechanical like the first. It was not cold like the former. She turned but didn’t say a word. She’d heard it but she also wanted to see it.
I finally looked her in the face, our eyes met.
“You’re welcome once again.” She smiled.
I swallowed. And cleared my throat. “I was wondering ‘How come I didn’t think to Google it.’
“I thought so.”
“But, it really doesn’t change anything, you know. Whether you figured it out first or I did, what is important is that we did. And the mail was sent. And that we met the deadline. And that is all that matters, Olami. It is we, not you or I.”
“I will remember that.”
The weight suddenly lifted. And calm returned. I came out of the bubble. Light shone.
“Good night, baby.”
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