Communication Isn’t Taken Seriously By Odimegwu Onwumere

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“We both assumed one thing or the other, which is not right; this is why communication is very vital.”

Yea, we had one of the chats this morning via phone. And after it I was moved to write her an email, because it’s she. I can remember that before her journey to Nigeria, she called to inform me about it. She said that she did so, because it would be against her conscience, if I read about it in the news. I never had an iota of the tutorial project she was coming then to organise in Nigeria. I was so happy.

I knew this powerful woman through e-mail correspondence and later, we connected on Facebook. She is a woman of substance, and a Christian who attends church. This should not be mistaken for a ‘churchgoer’. No! It was not my intention. But I am a Christian who do not attend church, and this is okay with her. I am also a Buddhist, an Eckist who do not attend temple, I am a Muslim who do not attend Mosque, I am a Traditionalist who believes that God is within, and not in Jerusalem or Saudi Arabia, I am, I am…

In the subsequent calls we made, I remember telling her to forget all that we have had as differences before she would arrive, because as a woman she was so concerned about “nothing” as I saw it. We have had series of disagreement, to be frank. She promised that they were over. I told her to forgive and forget. I didn’t want us to begin to open barrage of blames, therefore I owned-up to be the one to blame in all the differences. I played that I knew that she would buy me things from Europe as she was coming.

In her always charismatic person, she assured me that my own gift was going to be in her handbag, because I am de B and she is De Q. (I chose to abbreviate what we call ourselves). We had very charming conversations, and I emptied my mind of the acknowledged differences, because I assumed that I had made peace with her, because of our mutual relationship. Later, she called and said that it was time to use a gazette, which I documented for her organization sometime last year, because she found it worthy of the circumstance she was coming to Nigeria for. I obliged. Because it’s De Q who had made the entreaty, I made sure that it was used.

The night she called to inform me that she has arrived Nigeria is still fresh in my memory. I was not close to my phone, so I didn’t pick. She was now using a Nigerian line. After reading her text message, I replied that I was going to celebrate her coming. My joy knew no bounds. She promised calling me back, in a subsequent sms, after her schedule with some people that night. But she did not call back, maybe out of fatigue.

After that night and succeeding days, her promises that she was going to call never held any water. I hinged the matter on the fact that network of our mobile lines were very bad, and that I needed not disturb in order not to distract her attention from her mission – the colloquium she had in hand. She afterward informed me that she was done with her round table with the North and the South-West, and was coming to the South-South. I told her that I was waiting.

Maybe, she did not take me serious because I did not tell her that my family and some friends were in preparation to welcome her to our family house in Port Harcourt. My dad had bought some drinks and my mother had bought what women knew how to buy better for a visitor. The sense was that since she had not been to Nigeria for so a long time there was no how she could come to our house alone. I told my people that she would be coming with her friends and people. I told them that this is the woman who has been so kind to me, even though we have not seen each other physically, apart from pictures. But lo and behold, because she felt that what was the reason visiting “a man” since I should come to the place she was in Port Harcourt and collect the gifts she later told me that she bought for me, she called and told me that there was no how she could come to my family house. This call was made from her base in Europe. She has gone back. Her language on the phone was that the area I live in Port Harcourt was too far.

However, when she called to tell me about her plan of going back to Europe, after she must have visited her father in their village, I had no option but to tell her that we shall see. The day she asked me to come to her place in Port Harcourt and I told her to come to mine had passed. It was another disagreement. I sent her a sms to celebrate her journey mercies, when I saw online that she was back to her base in Europe. But unlike her,she did not reply, till I sent a second one, and she replied to tell me how I stabbed her, and all that talks connected to women. She did not even think fast to ask herself why did this man who had expressed brotherly affection to her on phone and online when she was in Europe suddenly did not ‘want’ to see her when she finally arrived Nigeria.

I have always maintained not to join issues with her in certain matters, because I still have much respect for the age difference among us. She gave me about 10yrs or so. But raising the issue of her friend (a woman) this morning is a bigger stab to me. I had told her that I wouldn’t call to plead to the woman over an issue, and she felt highly insulted and offended. “Why do you have erroneous impression about ‘I am a man’ as I said that I will not call your friend? Of course, am I a woman? Women keep malice, but I have shown you that men do not keep malice, even when you had severally expressed such through your conducts that it should be over between us,” I wrote her on the mail. She had very incorrect perception about men. It was her belief that she would never bow for a man because ‘he is a man’. So, anything I mentioned about being ‘a man’, she didn’t take it lightly.

On our chat via phone from Europe, she told me that her reason for wanting me come to the place she was stating temporarily in Port Harcourt was to surprise me with the gifts. She talked about the gifts she wanted to surprise me with, but did not think fast that am man enough to also surprise her. And this was my plan for inviting her to my family house. I had prepared for her with my own gifts. But since I know my friend, she didn’t come because “he feels that he is the man let me make him bow by my surprises” was what I think she meant when she did not edit her words this morning to scold me via phone that I wanted her to come and drop the gifts that she brought on my laps. What a biting statement from one whom I held in the highest esteem as my friend and confidant! How could she have been that irritated to come down so low always sounding pensive, because she feels that she needed not give men ‘chance’ because “they always feel that they are men”?

It was in that mail that I told her that if I were her, (though a man’s thought is always different from the woman’s), I would have dropped the said items with someone, owing to our deep mutual relationship, and later would probe to know why my friend did not come to see me. She did not do that, but only got irritated and start to use unprintable words against me.

What shows that we are friends if she finds it hard to tolerate and mind the way she uses words against a friend – me. I was writing her the mail with tears dripping down my eyes because of her misguided belief about men, and as a result, she always miscalculated in anything that I did.

Notwithstanding, I am still looking for explanation to use on my people, who had patiently waited to for her, to express my disappointment that she has gone back to her Europe, and is there calling me names. Well, I told her that I don’t think that I would come to this issue again or subsequent ones, because for her to raise the issue of (her female friend whom I scolded over a year ago because ‘am a man’) this morning showed me that I might be perhaps dealing with a friend who hardly forgives and forgets, and this is dangerous to my type of person.

After I had sent my mail, it did not take upto 30mins to receive her reply. First, she wished to thank me for expressing myself about how I felt. She also wished to assure me of one thing, which was that, she doesn’t carry grudges against people, but had learnt to live with them, based on past  experiences and knowledge. She also wanted to apologise for making fruitless all the efforts that I put into surprising/welcoming her. But unfortunately, she wrote that she couldn’t even remember where the place I said that I reside was in Port Harcourt.

She told me that since I knew that she had not been home for so long and did not really know her way around that much again, she expected that I would have come to pick her up as she had never met me and therefore was not expecting anything apart from meeting me at a place she was familiar with. “So even if your place may not be far I still would not have come to see you without meeting you at a familiar territory,” she wrote me. “And especially with all the security concerns I would not have come without someone I know is with me either in the car or taking me.”

She added that what she had expected, since she hadn’t upto a week to stay in Port Harcourt (but she didn’t explained to me what her schedule was like), was for me to come and meet her, introduce myself, and then take her to my place, so that she knows whom she is with and also, to bring her back to her place for security reasons. It was a pity that she didn’t have a driver taking her around, I was meant to understand. “So, I did not go anywhere apart from my trip to a South-South state, and attending a meeting at a school… It rained all day or most of the day on, so I was indoors,” she wrote me. “I had planned to go see my father but couldn’t because of the rain, so I went to see him on the following day, came back to the hotel, and packaged my things, and went to the airport, to travel to Abuja, to catch my flight, the next day. So, how could I have possibly found the time to come and see you, especially when you had not told me, or indicated anything, about your plan to meet your family?”

She said that she thought that I assumed a bit about how long she would be staying in Port Harcourt, by planning something for her, without confirming her availability, or agreeing a time, when she would have come, if she was coming. She said that we also never made such arrangement that she was going to come down to my place first, if anything; she was expecting me to come and welcome her, and introduce myself. “Because of your comments in

the past I assumed that this is the way you do your things, so I was hurt, and really thought I wasted my time caring, and of course, I am not a mind reader, so I was very disappointed that you didn’t make the effort to come and see me,” she wrote me. “We both assumed one thing or the other which is not right; this is why communication is very vital.”

She conversely apologized that she brought up (her female friend’s issue) again, but added that it happened because of the way she said that I responded to her comment that “what’s yours will be yours…..” (I had told her that if the gifts were mine, they would be). She said that what the statement meant to her was nothing more than ‘it’s no big deal that she brought something for me, maybe it doesn’t belong to me. According to her, that was surprising to her as her mind travelled back to the last time we had our first disagreement, because of a gift issue, hence her response.

In her conclusion, she said that since we have both misunderstood each other’s intention, all she could say is, ‘I’M SORRY’, for the statement. But that my “what’s yours will be yours…” really hurt her, and made her wonder why. “Please apologise to your family on my behalf, and let them know that my schedule was a bit too tight, and I could not get someone to bring me, that I will visit the next time,” this is her touching statement. She however, insists that unless I come down to the place she may be next time she comes to Nigeria and introduce myself and take her to my family house, she will not come, because she doesn’t think the other way round is how it should be done.

Her reason for saying that, she sermonized, “I want to be able to feel comfortable around you, before being placed into another unfamiliar environment.”



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