By Amran Gaye
10. These are hard nights, of silences filled with stone. A new awkwardness lies between them – their speech is a mechanical thing that they must drive forward.
– How are you feeling today?
– I’m fine, she replies, not sounding fine.
– Did you vomit again?
– I’m fine. When I was with girls yi teye maangi halorna scared. Y no one noticed.
When he is away from her, when he imagines her now he cannot remember her face. All he can recall is her stomach, and in his imagination it is a grotesque, bulging thing.
– Lore lehn dorne def, he says, torga ebeh?
– Yeah. Then nyu dem hang out LP. Famatta faram bi came from England.
– Anh Okay.
She has gone beyond the need to blame, is now only filled with a resignation.
– Ban time ngaa nyowe Friday?, she asks.
– Doctor bi said 7am. Dinaa nyowe pick up la borri 6.
– OK, she says, Maang dorn halaat pour Thursday ma dem fanaan sidey Ida.
– Ndik sa yaaye?
– Yeah, she says, She wakes pour njail and sits chi ayta bi.
– OK. Dang kor wah Ida?
– Not yet, she says, Y she has to know sudeh foe fu laaye fanaan. Y du deh wah.
11. A cloud of gloom hangs about her, growing larger with every word she speaks. It comes over the phone line and fills the room in which he lies too, and the distance between them feels endless, though neither can turn away from the other.
– Leh ka nga? he asks.
– Nah. Heefuma.
– Danga need pour lehka di Babe.
– Yeah. Dinaa lehka after.
She is tired – so tired. She wishes she could hang up the phone, and shut out the world, and be alone. And yet she feels the exact opposite too, the thought of loneliness filing her with a fear and a panic that she can scarce contain.
– Naka show bi teye? she asks, Record nga?
– Yeah. He sounds as if she had asked him about a chore he had performed during the day, but had not wanted to.
– How was it?
– Ah – just the usual, he says dismissively, Music, interviews, Lamin ak jokesam yi.
When she told him the result of the test he had sprang into action. He did the research, found a good and discreet doctor. He made the appointment, paid with cash. He did all there was to do, and now he is at a loss, feels helpless. What to say, to make her feel better. He casts about for words. His assurances die in his throat, never reaching his tongue, sounding hollow even to him.
– Wah ngaa Ida?
– Wawe, she replies.
– What did she say?
– I mean she was OK. Me and her go back a long way – she’s always there suma kor needeh. She’s, like, suma best friend dipi timey halel.
– Anh OK, he says, So elayk?
– Yeah – dina ma jailsi si afternoon bi. I told my mum neh we had a show.
They speak about inconsequential things, after that, until she can muster enough courage to end the conversation.
12. – Hello, she picks up the vibrating phone.
– Babe? Yaangi sidey Ida?
– Yeah. Y Mungeh nelawe.
– OK. Yow tam you should.
– Goemantuwu ma, she replies.
– Ah OK.
– Lorye def?
– Man – dara. Just sitting here.
– Ah OK.
With each word they speak the night draws closer to an end, the day becomes clearer in its approach over the horizon. So their silences are longer tonight, as if by not speaking they can hold the day at bay.
– Dama deh nehka di feel as if… she trails off.
– As if lan?
– As if lan, he insists.
– Ah dara. Just… Suma cousin dafa gaynay worn bosam, and then they found out. Suma Pa was saying how reye kati nit la, and then he didn’t speak to her again after that. Gaayi denye kor banish from family bi…
– Babe, he says. Wah naa la nga stop worrying. No one knows.
– Neh-kut loe lu.
– Lan la kon?
He feels a sudden irritation. The things that worry her are not things he wishes to think about, and he feels a flash of anger at her for bringing them up.
– Danga set sa alarm bi?, he asks, and he could have been talking to a stranger he worked with.
– Daydayt – necessary wut – duma nelawe.
– Maneh just set kor. Sore oversleepay nak? His tone is scolding.
– OK, she says, quietly.
She sounds so weary. His anger is replaced with shame, at itself.
– Sore reyeh nit kuuye dunda, he says, ching deh nehka murderer. Fii amute dara luuye dunda.
– Yeah, she says, almost as if she had memorised the word and did not need to think of it anymore to say it.
– Su dorn a couple of months sah. Y aagut foe fu.
– Danga wara nelawe.
He wants to go, and his guilt at this makes him angry again. She knows, and does not think she holds it against him.
– Demal taydi, she offers, beh elayk.
– Maneh if I wanna sleep I’ll go. Needulore pour wah ma kor.
A long silence.
– Baby demal taydi, she says again, with great effort, giving him a way out, Suma nehkeh di wah damaa eh Ida.
– You sure?
– Yeah – demal.
– OK. I’ll leave suma phone bi on. Call ma sore munuteh nelawe.
– Wawe OK, she says, and they both know the night will pass without her calling.
13. Something is missing from her voice tonight, something that sounds as if it has been crushed and destroyed under a heavy load.
– Munu maa nelawe, she says, and it is as if she has lived a long life filled with despair, and never slept.
– Amulore sleeping pills?
– Aha kanye – doctor bi gave me some. Y bugu ma lehna naan…
– Lu tah?
– Dafa.. suma deh…. my eyes – every time I close them dama deh nehka di giss… she does not finish the sentence.
– Baby just naan lehn nga nelawe.
There is a note of pleading in his voice, that has never been there before, and rather than soothe her it makes her feel worse.
– Wawe – maybe later, she says, Dinaa naan some later.
– Ana sa yaaye?
– Dafa dem hewe. Maangi kerr man kehna.
He gets a sudden inspiration.
– Dang lehn wara naan before she comes home, he says, So dore lehn need pour wah.
She laughs – it is a cold laugh, there is no mirth in it.
– Bull worry – I’m fine. Du detect dara. Yaangi safe.
There is the accusation, in those last words. He is quiet.
– Sorry Baby, she says after a while, I didn’t mean that. Dama sorna rek.
– It’s okay, he says, sounding surer of himself now, demal naan some pills. Then nga nyowe tayda nyu wah benga nelawe.
The load that she has carried through the day does not seem as heavy, anymore.
– OK, she says, and gets up.
14. – Dangaa over make a good mother sah.
– Anh. Naka nga hameh loelu?
– Just horl la rek. Jaimi yaaye nga ameh.
– So dang maa oryeh fat laygi?
It is the first joke they have shared in weeks, and they laugh much longer than its funniness allows.
– Baby so first one bi suma Papa, she says, planning names.
– Daydayt – jehkarr bi gets to name first kid bi di! Hai – yow yabulore ma.
– Anh OK. Wawe OK – so kore kore tuday?
– Sa Papa, of course.
She smiles, and it is not forced.
She feels as if everything will be alright.