Rosina clutched her small travel bag close to her legs as she stood outside the arrivals hall of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, shielding her face from the blazing sun scorching the city. She held on to the certainty that she would be able to recognise Uti if she spotted him among the waiting crowd. Dotting the crowd were a lot of women and a few men; eyes squinted against the sun, bearing placards marked with names like John Kroft and Mr. Bernard and Mr Whitehead. She wondered what the whitehead fellow would look like and if he had been on the same flight with her. She felt some of the eyes from the crowd piercing through her skin, nailing the heat of the sun into her already moist pores. She dropped her bag and ransacked one of its compartments for her sun glasses. She looked up again, under the shades. There was an enjoyable calmness to her view now.
She spotted a tall guy in jeans and a T-shirt hurrying towards her in the distance. She knew he was not Uti, but still she looked, closely, as if to be sure. She knew the outfit Uti would be putting on because he had sent her photos of himself in the morning on her BlackBerry Messenger, just like he had done consistently since he began to show serious interest in her. He usually sent her pictures of himself in his car, a black Toyota Camry with grey fabric interior; he usually sent her pictures of his meals, mostly noodles, with eggs or plantain, or occasionally, meat he had shredded from barbeque or suya. She could almost tell where he was at every point in time from the pictures. Sometimes he posted some of those pictures on his BlackBerry Messenger status update or his Twitter account or on his Facebook page, but only after he had sent them to her, and she had told him he looked good, amazing, or more recently, like my man. She had surprised herself the first time she said that, but he laughed, an affirmative laugh and she had kept saying it occasionally since then.
The tall guy was now hugging a lady who had just also come out of arrivals with a trolley containing a small bag. She remembered the lady from the plane, with her pale gold hair and skin the colour of egg shell. She had been in the toilet when the plane was about to begin its descent, and an air hostess had gone over to hurry her out. She hugged the guy for a long while and then they pulled apart before pressing their lips together, briefly. Rosina couldn’t believe she was staring at them. She had always thought it a bad habit to stare at people this way. She imagined her eyes joining those of the small crowd to pierce the skins of the innocent lovers, assuming they were. She looked away from them and wondered if they were like her and Uti, if they had also met on Twitter or Facebook and were only seeing each other for the first time now, or if they had actually met before and were only being reconciled. She wondered if she would even consider kissing Uti. Certainly not at the airport, not in front of this crowd hungry for some drama of kissing lovers and long lost relatives reuniting. She knew she looked forward to what would happen at the hotel though. She could not wait for that. She had thought about it several times and simply could not wait to see if Uti was as good as he often mildly suggested he was in bed, asking questions like, “You want to come to Nigeria? Are you sure you will be able to handle me? I can be a real freak o,” and they would both laugh over the phone, mostly on her call credit. She knew Uti made enough money from his blog and Twitter following, and he always got invited to give talks here and there, but she had made their telephone communication her responsibility and he had stopped complaining about never letting him call her. She watched the guy and the lady walk away. He was pushing the trolley with one hand and holding the lady’s waist with the other while shaking his head to one of the men beckoning on them for a taxi ride. He probably had a car just like Uti. Rosina imagined where they were going, maybe to a hotel too. She compared their heights, the girl barely reaching his shoulders and imagined what they would both be like in bed.
Her eyes fell on Uti’s large frame as she looked across from the couple. She felt her heart begin to beat faster as a huge smile suddenly enveloped her face, embarrassing her. He was almost running, wiping his face with a face towel the whole time, sweating. He looked taller than she had expected. She picked up her bag and began to walk towards him, trying hard to keep the smile on her face from becoming a blush. Uti’s hug was firm, almost determined, rehearsed. She pulled away and put her left hand on the side of his neck, and wanted to say you look good, but she did not. That was what she had prepared to say, but it would clearly be a lie, so instead she said, “You look stressed.”
“Yeah, traffic,” he responded almost immediately. He liked her accent even more now.
“Hope you didn’t have to wait for too long.”
“Is this all you have?” he asked after collecting her bag.
“Yeah, isn’t it just a weekend?”
They both laughed, even though they knew there was nothing really funny and then leaned against each other and began to walk back towards the car park where Uti had emerged from.
“How was your flight?”
“Boring. Boring food, boring people.”
Somebody greeted Uti, shook his hands and muttered something Rosina didn’t hear.
“What’s that he said?” she asked when the young lady walked away.
“She must be a reader of my blog. She said I don’t give a hoot, that’s my blog mantra.”
“Oh, I remember that.”
They were silent for a while as they walked past some mallams who changed currency.
“Do you have any money to change?” Uti asked.
“I already did.”
“At the airport, in Joburg.”
“Really?” Uti didn’t look convinced.
“Yeah, there are naira changers everywhere. Do you know how many Nigerians were on that flight? Do you know how many Nigerians come into S.A every day?”
“So is this how ladies stop you to greet you on the streets?”
Uti laughed. She tried not to laugh with him because she had intended it to be a serious question, to carry with it and deliver to him a stern message that she wasn’t quite comfortable with any distractions and she wanted him all to herself.
“When you have fifty thousand twitter followers and a hundred thousand people reading your blog every month, you can’t avoid a few people recognising you.”
“True.” She thought of my man.
“Can you spot the car?” he asked when they got to the car park.
She removed her shades to humour him, and then smiled, a little too broadly before running her eyes through the car park. “There,” she said, pointing.
“Over there, close to the fence.”
Sex on the first night at the Moonlight Hotel in Maryland was rushed, although she had still enjoyed it. But when he woke her up the next morning, poking at her from behind, she knew it would be a whole lot better. Soon, he was up, in and out of the bathroom in a jiffy and unto his laptop. When she woke up hours later, looked at the wall clock and said, “You’ve been on that table for over two hours,” he looked back at her and said, “It’s a Saturday morning. Peak period online.”
“What’s for breakfast?”
“I’ve called for boiled yam and eggs, would that be okay?”
“Cool. Thanks.” She reached for her BlackBerry on the side of the bed and decided to go through her Twitter timeline and BlackBerry status updates. She had not checked her phone since she got into the hotel last night and jumped on Uti and began to undress him. She had barely made out the details of the room as they entered; the small table and chair facing the big bed, the little fridge at the corner of the room on which stood an even smaller TV which they would not switch on throughout their stay. The stale smell of the room had invaded her nose, like it had been several days since someone occupied it and she had noticed that the white of the bed sheet was not as sparkling as that of the wall.
Uti looked at her briefly again and began to think as he tweeted. This was the first one from outside Nigeria to come just to see him. And she paid her own fare. Not like those ones from Port-Harcourt or Benin or Abuja who would ask him to send them money to buy tickets, and he always did. Maybe she really did like him. Maybe he should consider taking her seriously and making her the official girlfriend. He thought about the last time he had posted a subliminal tweet – I wish you weren’t so far away – with at least three of them in mind, she was the first to respond and he had sent her direct messages with all sorts of sweet nothings. He really should stop this soon. It wouldn’t help his online reputation if it became public knowledge that he was busy ‘Setting P’ and dating random pretty girls he scouts online. He dismissed the thought. After all, it was they who always came on to him. He began to hum D’banj’s ‘Bachelor’.
“Who are you tweet-fighting again this morning?” Rosina asked, eyes fixed on her phone.
“Oh, you saw my tweets? It’s one of those losers who can’t stop hating.”
She sighed and turned.
Uti fell asleep later that evening after they tossed each other off, first her and then him. Rosina decided to have a shower. She felt sticky. As she got out of bed and was walking towards the bathroom, she noticed Uti’s tablet buzzing with messages on the table. She ignored it and opened the bathroom door. Then she shut the door and went back to the tablet. His Twitter account was open, flooded with several tweets, mentions, interactions and direct messages. She was fascinated. My man. She had always wondered what it was like to have so many followers on Twitter. Even with her barely five hundred followers, she got overwhelmed sometimes, how much more when you had to deal with several thousands. She began to scroll through his direct messages, and suddenly she felt a sharp hot sensation in her chest when she saw a message column from Rita86 along with Uti’s responses:
Why are you insisting that I shouldn’t make the trip this weekend? Are you travelling again?
No darling, I’m not, I just need to visit with my mum.
Oh, OK. I can respect that. We’ll make it next weekend then. I miss you.
I miss you too darling. I can’t wait to set my eyes on you, and lay my hands on you. Lol.
Rosina crashed into the chair and dropped Uti’s tablet on her laps. He turned in bed so she quickly dropped the tablet on the table and walked slowly into the bathroom. She came back moments later and picked up the tablet.
She did not say a word to Uti throughout the ride to the airport. Even when he said, “Baby, are you alright? You’ve been too quiet all morning, what’s the matter? You don’t want to leave?” she simply smiled a strained smile and kept her eyes out of the window. She reasoned there was no use talking to him about any of the messages; the one from Rita86 or the even more suggestive ones from SexyCreamyChic. He probably did this every weekend; invite a random girl he had met and courted for weeks or months on social media to Lagos on her own bill, have energetic sex with her and make her believe she was the special one, the lucky babe dating Hooti, the famous blogger and founder of Hooti.com. Thinking about it made her feel used. She suddenly regretted being in a hurry to get into bed with him. She had thought it was the typical thing to do since she wasn’t sure when next she would be able to afford a ticket to Nigeria. She would hold back her tears, at least till she was on the plane. She wouldn’t give him the pleasure of seeing her cry; after all, she wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing his reaction when he finally discovered what she had done.
Uti couldn’t wait to get back home from the airport. He drove too fast for his own liking, turning too sharply at bends and overtaking fast moving cars. He was glad there was no traffic in the city. Sundays were like that. He needed to do a post quickly, and there was so much more he needed to tweet about, the recent comment by the President of the Christian Pentecostal Association about his new private jet, for instance. This was usually the downside to his weekend escapades, almost missing out on the action online. He hurried into his studio apartment in Surulere half pondering why Rosina had not questioned him like the other Nigerian girls about why he took her to a hotel instead of his apartment. He quickly set up his laptop. He was surprised that he had to re-log in. He thought he didn’t log out and only always hibernated his computer so he could continue from wherever he stopped with his work. He entered his username, Hooti, and password, ********* The response startled him slightly – INVALID PASSWORD. He decided to try again without concealing the password. He entered his details again, this time mouthing it as he typed – Username: Hooti; Password: giveahoot. INVALID PASSWORD. He sighed. He reached for his tablet and decided to log into Twitter instead. He would sort out the blog later. He felt a bad taste on his tongue when he realised he also had to re-login into his Twitter account. Username: Hooti; Password: giveahoottwitter. WRONG USERNAME/EMAIL AND PASSWORD COMBINATION.
(All characters, names and events in this story are fictional and a creation of the writer’s imagination. Any resemblance to any real persons or occurrences is simply a coincidence).
Follow ‘Seun on Twitter @SeunWrites