AUGUST 30, 1900.
My laughter gets stuck the moment I hear a rap on my window. By now I’m facing down at my table and my hair which has fallen to the sides of my head is covering the sides of my face, making it impossible for whoever might be looking at me from those sides to see what I’m doing. I hesitate for a while to be sure I’ve heard right, before parting my hair and turning towards the window wearing a wild stare. Did Evaristus just rap on my window? I ask myself, and my mind repeats that question severally in quick successions, like an echo. As if he hears me, wearing a quizzical look, he raps again as I watch him. It’s the first sincere expression I’ve ever seen on him, my mind tells me. Just then it births the idea of going to the window to tell him I’m okay and begins to rock it. But I halt it quickly.
‘I’m not okay!’ I snap at myself and turn away from the window scowling.
The last time I and Evaristus had a conversation was that first day I met him on the street. After that moment, we never exchanged more than one or two words of greeting when we met, and that only took place if I first greeted him. If not, he barely noticed that I existed. Even that night he had stayed at my place, he only responded to my enquiries with head shakes and pursed lips smiles that never showed his teeth. I’ve never tried to visit him at his place, and I don’t intend to do that until he does me first. At least that’s what the tradition here teaches, no matter your possession the new arrival has in his custody.
I began this attitude of distracting him three weeks ago after I came to the conclusion that he would never look my way on his own, and I ardently needed him to do that. At first, he barely cared, or rather pretended not to hear whenever I shook my window. Then five days later, he began to look up from whatever he was doing to glance in my direction. It was just the beginning of this week that he began to walk to my window. But he had never rapped on it until today. Now. And when he’s suddenly shows a remarkable interest, I should walk up to him and tell him that there’s no problem with me? Lie.
Then, all of a sudden, the rap stops. I want to turn to look back at the window to know if he’s still standing there but my mind dares me threatheningly. I suddenly feel my heartbeat begin to race. I don’t know why I’m feeling this way, so I take in a deep breath which I refuse to let out. That’s when I hear a shrill ringing noise.
‘My door bell!’ I gasp. I’ve never heard it ring. I stand fixedly staring at the mouthpiece on the wall beside the door. As the thought of Evaristus standing in front of the door runs into my mind, my heart goes numb.