I came across a sentence in a comment in Stack Exchange Workplace which I can not translate:
have been freelance for *cough* decades
Can anyone help me?
Here is the link to original post – see comment from @Mawg
The asterisk delimiters are an internet/chat text convention for an action on the part of the writer, so read it as a stage note: the author wants you to think he/she is coughing.
The meaning here is to communicate that the word “decades” is, “ahem”, ironic.
Without further context I don’t know if the irony intention is “many, perhaps uncountable decades” or “barely, round up to a decade” but I feel the meaning is one or the other.