Gosh, what a relief I thought it was!
I thought I could sit back, relax and let my fingers do the walking…and the talking.
You see, I noticed that every one of the three networks, Orange, Mascom and be-MOBILE, has specials spread over whole weeks of the month.
With one, you can register and make unlimited free calls to the same network’s numbers after midnight.
Excellent, I said.
The other gives you double airtime after a purchase.
One says free calls all weekend long.
Then there is another which gives an outrageous credit if you bought a certain amount of airtime; it allows you free calls to any of its network numbers and landlines.
Sometimes they give you airtime twice the amount you tendered.
The other one comes with a ‘Tuesday Madness’ and allows you heavily discounted calls to neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Namibia, etc.
I am trying to join all the offers together so as to make free local and international phone calls.
I am close.
I am getting really close to making free phone calls to anywhere for free.
We are benefitting from their competition. Economists call it free enterprise.
But to do that I have to monitor all the three cellphone networks in Botswana.
And that meant having three SIM cards and three cellphones!
Determined to take advantage, like all the other women take advantage of all those special grocery offers spread around town, I carried three cellphones with three SIM cards.
Admittedly, it was a ridiculous situation, not only because of the awkwardness of carrying three cellphones, but because my friends only knew one number and I was faced with the absurd chore of telling others to use such and such a number, while others had to use the other numbers.
I tried to reserve the original number for my parents and the elderly relatives who had no time or desire to fool around with cellphones, except to receive and to send me call-me-back calls.
So, the genius I thought I was, I told those who had Orange numbers to call me on my Orange number; those with Mascom numbers were to call me on my Mascom number and, of course, those with be-MOBILE numbers had to call me on my be-MOBILE number.
Was I clever or was I clever!
When calling, I was, of course, going to use the same network as that person I was calling. There was always a discount.
It was a bit of a mess though.
I forgot about business companies who, somehow, manage to acquire either some ridiculously easy numbers or some grotesque numbers you can never guess who from.
The experience was just unbearable.
I started receiving phone calls on the wrong phones and wrong lines.
And my own confusion was attacking me.
I tried to call them back to divert them to what I wanted to be the right one and only made my friends and relatives mad, especially since I was not giving up the line that they had used to contact me for over six years.
It was costing me a lot in money, patience and tolerance.
Why wouldn’t these fools just oblige?
What’s the big deal, they wanted to know?
I was turning out to be the bigger fool but I was determined to save money.
All the offers were there on full page ads in all papers that, in addition to incessant cellphone text messages at odd hours of the night, trumpeted up to ‘99% discount’ on calls.
A blind person wouldn’t miss the offer.
There was no bigger deal, of course, except for me to access free airtime on all networks.
Only a fool would let such offers from three competing companies go to waste.
But then, people started laughing at me. I was only a UB student waiting for my monthly university allowance but was carrying three cellphones.
I don’t know if the president carries three cellphones. I haven’t seen him use a cellphone.
I have interviewed luminaries like Margaret Nasha and Jacob Nkate, but I never saw them with more than one cellphone. If they had more, they hid them away.
But here I was, the student who always watched the calendar for the next payout date but carrying three cellphones in a bid to save money.
Then I got just as brilliant as Sir Isaac Newton!
No apple hit me on the head but the Chinese came calling.
The Chinese had dual SIM card cellphones!
It’s something I have sneered at after seeing some enterprising streetwise boys touting them at the Main Mall, claiming they could make your single SIM card cellphone into a dual cellphone holder.
Needless to say, I was first in the queue and I got a brand new dual SIM card cellphone from a Chinese shop.
‘Dumelang’, it respectfully flashes at me when I turn it on; but I love the ‘Go Siame’ it winks at me when I turn it off, both accompanied with unknown music, of course.
But addicted to cellphones as I am, I feared missing phone calls so I turned it back on. ‘Dumelang’, it repeats to my amusement.
Oh, I am such a good master!
I now have this dual SIM card cellphone, my friends.
And, yes, I confess that it has caused me to mix things up pretty bad.
I am grieving right now; the dual SIM card phone has become a rogue friend.
I have sent wrong messages to wrong people from the wrong line.
My father is mad, really mad. He says he never thought his little girl was a porno star. Daddy says he can’t believe I am “that kind of girl”.
The Pastor’s wife has demanded and invited me for three days of prayer at their home, saying that the devil is very good at snatching lambs from right under the nose of the shepherd.
My professor contemptuously said I have to earn my grades through sheer hard work and what I was suggesting and offering was out of the question.
“You are a very good and decent young lady,” she texted back, “I should have the good sense to report you to the authorities.”
My mother, who still remains the most understanding of all who I know and who know me, simply asked to meet my boyfriend.
“All I want to know,” mom wrote, on the wrong line, of course, “is why he makes you do those awful things. Do you really do that, Angela? Gosh, what kind of man is he?”
Meanwhile, it’s been weeks now and my boyfriend is not answering my calls.
A friend of his told me something about me saying to my boyfriend’s father something about getting his tongue ready since I was bringing whipped cream, chocolate syrup and ice cream, a message I remember very well was meant for my mother and for my little sisters.
But who would listen?
I am not waiting for the TRIPLE SIM card cellphone.
Tuesday madness, indeed!