You steal a glance over your right shoulder at the door. It stays shut. You turn back to your laptop.
Your right pointer hovers over the next key. Your breathing slows almost to a stop; while your heart drums itself silly, you feel moistness form on your forehead. You fight it, with all the might you can muster. But it happens again: the thumps in your chest go up a notch per passing second; you are sure that in another minute, your heart will be lying on the bed beside you, wet, red and raw.
You know what will happen next if you let it, the visions will follow. So you do the only thing you know will take the pain away. You strike ‘Delete’.
And just like that, you are calm again.
The first time it happened was the week after that Saturday afternoon when you, Ebele and Kunle from next door lay huddled in front of your laptop. The three of you lay flat on the bed, elbows propping up your chins, as the unfolding scenes of nudity reflected flashes of colour on your enraptured faces. You called it a ‘porn stroll’, PS for short, and it was your ‘guy’ thing. Each of you was thoroughly engrossed, so you did not hear her come in.
You jumped. Three arms stretched for the screen but in the jumble of limbs, a knobby elbow shot up the volume. For a split second, noone moved, as moans and shrieks of ‘do it, baby … do it harder!’ filled the small room. Ebele – or was it you – was the first to recover and slam the lid shut.
There were whispers in the estate that PQ knew what everybody was up to, especially the dark hidden things. Nobody ever figured out how come, nobody tried. Later when it occurred to you to wonder how she had gone past the gateman, dogs and into your room way in the back on the first floor – wasn’t the door locked? – you would be even more disturbed.
At the time however, the three of you stood in a short line before the intruder. You felt her eyes switch between the top of your bent head, and the bulge in your crotch you tried so hard to hide.
“Tueh!” you flinched at the disgust laden in the gesture. “Children are dying of hunger in Chibok,” she said, “and you are here wasting precious MB!”
Frustrated, you slam your laptop screen shut. PQ has cursed you, you just know it.
Or how else would you explain the fact that since that encounter, the moment you so much as contemplated a porn-stroll, you got a panic attack followed by visions of hungry-looking children lined up with rusty bowls before a laptop screen.
And on the laptop screen, it always said,
“If internet data were food, a lot more people would starve … eat your MB today!”