The lies phones tell
By Edwin Makiche
When the mobile telephony arrived in Kenya, it was celebrated as a milestone that would revolutionise communications and make lives easier and more enjoyable.
Instead, the gadget’s investors’ good intentions have been overshadowed by the suspect functions it now serves.
For instance, it has perfected the tricks people play. If the rumour mill is anything to go by, golf legend Tiger Woods has found it the perfect tool to gather himself a harem of models and blondes.
Today, with the demand for phones soaring, various models are flooding the market and some have been customised to suit specific needs. When these features are coupled with natural creativity, people wishing to cheat on their partners have never had it so good. Sample these features:
Ideally, it is a directory for storing names. But in the case of this facility, the question of what is in a name arises. The creativity and ingenuity that people employ to mislead is remarkable. Scrawling through someone’s phonebook, you come across names that make you laugh. Apparently, many people use creative names to confuse their partners. John, an accountant with a local bank, confesses that this trick has saved him many a row with his nagging wife.
He has an affair with his secretary who sometimes calls at awkward hours when his wife is around. To mislead his wife, he has saved the secretary’s number as ‘Bank’s lawyer’ and therefore whenever she calls the wife does not take the call assuming it is to do with the bank’s legal matters.
Another person who uses a similar trick is Salome, a student at a local university.
She has a steady boyfriend, three peripheral ones on campus and two sugar daddies working with different firms in Nairobi. Her steady is fond of playing around with her Nokia phone and so she has invented false names for the others to deceive him.
She has saved one campus boyfriend as ‘Dan classmate’ and therefore when this boy calls and the regular boyfriend has the phone, he assumes that it is about an urgent group discussion and he does not take the call.
The other one is ‘George CU’ (for Christian Union) and the boyfriend assumes that this is about church stuff like Bible study and the choir.
The other one is just ‘Cuzo’ (for cousin). She has saved the names of the sugar daddies as ‘Dad’ and ‘Bro’ and therefore no one dares to take the calls from her ‘close relatives’.
To further confuse her boyfriend, she rushes outside whenever an interloper calls. These names keep changing depending on who is around and the level of relationship.
Albert, who has three girlfriends living in different parts of the country, says he changes the names based on which girlfriend is with him at the moment.
To please the girl, he uses fancy names like Angel, Brilliant, Hope, Honey, Sweetheart and heartbeat. He sometimes uses celebrity names like Michelle, Beyonce, Shania, Celine, Rihanna or Mariah depending on which celebrity the girlfriend adores. He confesses that these are just for show and as soon as she is out of the door, he restates the usual name or deletes the number altogether.
Jane, a single mother, saves the numbers of her several boyfriends depending on the level of commitment of each. Scrawling through her phonebook, you encounter the name ‘Obama’ which she says belongs to a man who bought her a plot in Nakuru town and therefore merits prominence in her life.
Another one is ‘Baba watoto’ and belongs to her regular boyfriend and the man who fathered her firstborn son.
Another one is saved as ‘Mbwa mwitu’, an ex-boyfriend who ditched her for a barmaid.
Some people use the names of mobile phone companies like Safaricom, Zain, Orange and Yu. Therefore one might be deceived that a call is coming from a mobile operator.
Others use the names of the companies they work for.
Then there are those who do not save the contacts of their illicit partners at all; they know the numbers off head.
If these people call at awkward hours they just ignore them, insisting that they cannot take calls from ‘strangers’.
Arthur says that he broke up with his girlfriend after a ‘strange caller’ at midnight persisted even after they ignored the ringing phone.
The girlfriend wanted to switch off the phone but a curious Arthur picked it up. He was surprised when the caller, who seemed to know his girlfriend pretty well, ordered him to hand over the phone to the owner and tell her that he loved her.
Veterans in the game can use the names of a different gender to disguise their illicit affairs.
One can be misled into thinking that a husband has gone gay when she finds a romantic message from ‘John’ in his inbox. But on calling the number she is surprised to hear a female’s voice at the other end.
Such incidents have become very common. Technology comes handy because gadgets nowadays have multi-phone books and one can choose where to store the contact and when to switch to a certain phonebook. Much in use is the Family and Friends phonebook, Office phonebook and the Blacklist phonebook. One can blacklist a partner’s number when he is busy with another one and reinstate it when he is through.
What if a romantic message from a girlfriend pops in when in bed with another? Julius says he would better die than have his girlfriend access his inbox.
In case of a crisis he fights tooth and nail to delete the message. This may lead to repercussions but it is better than if she had read it.
Great ingenuity comes into play when saving messages. Apart from saving the contacts of the ‘mpango wa kando’ lovers as M-pesa or Zap, they create folders which might take an eternity to locate.
Kevoo says he saves the messages of his ex-girlfriend (whom he still sleeps with) in a folder he renamed ‘phone settings’. The trick works as his current girlfriend may search for hours and still not find it. Steve has renamed the folder as ‘Delete messages’.
A person dare not click the ‘ok’ button as it would ‘delete’ the messages. Some people add the contact to the screened messages list and therefore the message is delivered even without the phone ringing. Most phones require the user to enter a password before accessing messages.
Some phones are e-mail enabled and one can install a spammer to ‘eat up’ messages.
The SMS also makes the life of a player easier. One can download a message and forward to as many partners as possible with just a few changes here and there. Juliet, a college student, says she has no time for writing messages and therefore she just forwards messages she receives from others even without reading them seriously.
One of the recipients of such a message is Tanui. He says when he got a romantic SMS from his girlfriend, he was very delighted by the sweet words she had used. He was however surprised to realise that a similar message was doing rounds on the campus.
The inventor of Mp3 phones has made it easier for one to distinguish callers and determine which call to pick and which to ignore. It’s even easier when the music playing on the phone is nice because one can just pretend that he is enjoying the music yet he is whiling away time.
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