She looked up, almost out of habit. The light was on. Good, he was home. From where she stood, she watched his dark figure etched on to the silk of the curtain, trying to make sense of his movement. Will he stay long? Or disappear yet again, into the night?
It has been too long.
Maybe this time, he would reach out his hand in welcome.
It wasn’t love, just a strange sense of curiosity and hope. It was his mysterious nature, and the fact that he looked proper and well-scrubbed, confident in the acceptable language, in possession of riches and employable, that aroused in her this strange sense of curiosity and hope.
He was still studying, they have said. And studying a highly laudable discipline. His place of dwelling was small, someone had called it a mudukkuwa of sorts. But it didn’t matter. After all, he was still a poor student and he had come here to pursue his studies from the Land of the Hills – the Land of the High. Wasn’t that ambitious? It was possible, that the riches mentioned above, were purchased by his father. He was probably saving up for the future, someone had suggested that too.
And, he spoke well enough. Oh, she had never spoken to him, just heard him, or rather, strained her ears to listen to his words wherever possible over the thunderous noise of passing engines. His high-pitched voice was of course, unmissable. He sang, too, strumming his guitar. Someone had once joked he would have probably sung soprano, while she had pondered on this thought.
He seemed the hard-working type. After all, he would leave home at sunrise (most of the time), and return only past midnight, or perhaps even later. How she knew this was through careful analysis of aspects such as, lights, windows left open, padlock, and the curtain gently blowing to the beat of his fan.
Most days, when she was up, and looked up, he was gone. That is, door padlocked. When she returned home after work, he was gone. Door padlocked. When she went to sleep, around 10 pm, he was still gone. Door padlocked. At times, this wouldn’t be the case. The light would be on, the windows open and his dark figure moving across the tiny hallway. Whether he returned during the day, or where he went for purpose, she never knew.
When his door was left ajar, she would cautiously peep into his hallway trying to sketch his character. So far, she’s gathered that he is neat – his shirts are neatly hung and there is no clutter on the floor or the shelves. He cooked too, she thought, for the shelves contained tiny bottles similar to those used to pack away spices.
She kept watching his window.
Moments passed by.
She had never had a real conversation with him. But then again, she had never really gotten a proper chance to have a proper conversation with him. Her friends have suggested ways and means of approaching him, including knocking on his door, innocently, to ask for help relating to his subject of study, stealing his post and rushing out, as if by chance, when he steps outdoors. None seemed practical though. She has smiled once, but never spoken. She was hoping that today would be that moment.
Still more minutes passed. Nothing happened.
She went indoors to get a glass of water. She was gone only for a minute.
When she returned, it was gone, the light… It was dark. She scanned in vain the surroundings.
He was gone.
It couldn’t be that he was sleeping. She watched the curtain, carefully, with the help of the dim street light. It wasn’t moving. No sign of life there. It would move if he was indoors to the beat of the fan.
He had eluded her once more.
Where in the world did he disappear to? So fast?
It was funny, she thought, how she wanted to know more about him. She really didn’t like him or anything like that. It was just the thought – the thought that he was this, he was that – that was getting to her. Isn’t it funny how you fall in love with a thought, with a desire, with curiosity? Isn’t it funny how you fall in love with hope – the hope that he would finally reach out his hand in welcome – but hope seems to elude you always?
Or is it fear? You are just comfortable where you are, you are just comfortable thinking he is that, and you are afraid that he would not live up to expectation? The fear that this little bubble of hope that is bringing so much joy and laughter…will just…burst…leaving you with no hope at all?
Isn’t it funny how you want to cling on to hope… however distant or unrealistic it may be…? she wondered…
Yet, curiosity got the better of her, and for the last time that night, she looked over her shoulder to see if he had returned, if there was still hope. Disappointed, she returned to her work, hoping tomorrow would bring better results.