I haven’t talked my parents in nine and a half days. To me, that seems like nine and a half minutes but to my parents that feels like nine and a half years. At this point in my college career everything seems overwhelming: homework and class projects, getting to class on time, sleeping and even stirring my own coffee.
Thinking a day or a week in advance about what needs to be done has proven to be challenging. So, I have decided to take my day 10 minutes at a time. I do everything I need to do in those 10 minutes and then jump into the next 10 and then 10 more, until I am done.
This morning I woke up to nine missed calls from both my parents. 1:10 a.m., 1:53 a.m., 2:24 a.m., 2:30 a.m., 2:31 a.m., 2:33 a.m., 3:00 a.m., 3:03 a.m., 3:17 a.m., voicemail. This frantic calling should not be a cause of alarm to you because my parents live on a completely different time zone from me. They live in Kenya, an East African country, which is eight hours ahead of our local time here in Indiana. So, when that first call came 1:10 a.m. in Goshen, it was 8:10 a.m. in Kenya. There is never a time when both my parents and I are free, not at work nor school nor sleeping.
My mum, Anne Agutu, takes the most offense when I don’t pick up my phone when she calls. My father, Jeam, just shrugs it off and waits for the next calling episode.
My relationship with my mother is one that is unlike any other mother and daughter relationship. She is my best friend and has been since her water broke on Nov. 13, 1996 at 11:30 a.m. We tell each other everything, and I mean everything: the local town gossip, her friends’ divorces, my first kiss, her annoying co-workers, my hard classes, my annoying professors, what I had for breakfast, even if I’m still having diarrhea-two weeks and counting. Literally everything.
Recently there has been no time for us to speak. Time is money, money is time and as a college student, I have neither.
Early this morning, for example, I spent hours trying to finish writing this article, taking shots of espresso, listening to Beyoncé’s new album Lemonade, while watching re-runs of Scandal; whereas my parents were being worrying parents, normal parents.
Our relationship and love for each other has now become measured by the number of times we call, text or Skype each other weekly, monthly and yearly. If I’m not calling them then I must not be thinking of them; if I’m not thinking of them then I must not love them; and if I don’t love them then I must have forgotten about them. That sounds right? Right?
This small piece of metal, plastic and carbon fibers, the iPhone 6plus, is controlling the most vulnerable and treasured piece of my life; the one thing I could take a bullet for: my family.
It hurts me to think that my parents would value our bond through a piece of what will one day be scrap metal. Our emotions and actions are driven through whatever this device tells us. Technology has brainwashed us into an era of electronic emotion.
Every time my parents and I speak now, our conversation ends with a doubtful “Nakupenda…” which means “I love you” in Kiswahili, my mother tongue.
Yesterday I woke up to 10 missed calls from my parents.
“I’m sorry I didn’t pick up your call earlier mom, I was in class… sorry I was in a meeting… sorry I was asleep… sorry I was working out…sorry…sorry… mom? Are you there?” It has now become a routine. When they call and I don’t pick up, I wake up, check my phone and send two messages to each one of them. Number one: “Ulini pigia simu?” and number two: “Nawapenda sana. Nitwa pigia simu badaye.”
In its nuance it means, “Did you call me? I love you guys so much. I will call you later.” My phone knows this message sequence so well it can now predict each word, each punctuation points and all the heart emojis that come pouring after.
This morning I woke up with no missed calls, no messages, no nothing. I could honestly say that I felt some relief, but also some uneasiness. Maybe my phone was broken and I needed to turn it off and on, just like the guy at the Apple desk at University Park Mall said; and I would get a string of missed calls and messages from my parents. I tried it; it didn’t work.
Were they even thinking of me? Why haven’t they called me? It is now 9:30 a.m., in class and I am constantly glancing down at my phone every second to see if I have received some form of contact from my parents. If they are not calling me then they must not be thinking of me; if they are not thinking of me then they must not love me; and if they don’t love me then they must have forgotten me. That sounds right? Right?
Tomorrow morning my parents will wake up to nine missed calls: 5:03 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 5:24 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 6:07 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 6:34 p.m., 6:47 p.m., 7:09 p.m.…and a voicemail… “Call me when you get this message.”