5. Ali phoned regularly to announce his imminent departures. He phoned from the different cities and towns inside and outside the country to which he traveled. He phoned to report his arrivals. In between his travels, he phoned regularly when the telephone lines permitted. He and Esi always had good telephone conversations.

Following the conclusion of Ali and Esi’s wedding and honeymoon phase in Chapter 22, the two lovers begin to see less and less of each other. Their marriage, in which Esi once placed so much hope, has been reduced to a series of phone calls. Ali phones frequently just before he leaves town; in other words, his phone calls are a means for him to say that he is unavailable. If his departure time is quickly approaching, then contacting Esi just before he leaves means that he can avoid having to see her before he leaves.

Like his father, Musa Musa, Ali has made his career by traveling around the world. He can no more settle permanently into one location than he can settle on one—or even two—women. His constant traveling and womanizing seem to be essential elements of his personality: they are so intertwined that they cannot be separated from one another. Ali uses his travel and work to maintain distance from the women in his life, thereby permitting him the space and time to pursue additional women. He has clearly become very adept at maintaining and managing that distance. Ali and Esi may no longer have a strong marriage, but they can still have good phone conversations. Those good phone conversations are all that Esi has left of what she once thought would be an ideal marriage.