Too many people forgot the very meaning of listening…
The rain is pounding heavily on the living room’s tall window panes. I knew walking back home, that there would be no spending the evening out with Victor tonight…
I knew when I rented the house that there was no tv here. It is fine by me, but I did expect to find a radio of some sort to break the silence. Sitting at the narrow kitchen table, eating my take out butter chicken right out of the box, I pay close attention to all the faint noises around. The neighbour’s vacuum cleaner bumping rhytmically against the party wall. The ticking of the clock. The regular plop of the bathroom running tap.
Behind Georges Pompidou Center, I walked passed the weirdly creepy fountains to find this mural. It felt as if it had been waiting for me, so I sat there and stared. The crowd was pretty dense, an odd mix of locals running to or from work, and tourists straying between attractions. I listened to the footsteps, yet my eyes couldn’t leave the strange character painted on the wall. I looked up and down, and up again.
Shush, silly girl! The painting seemed to tell me.
Scraping the bottom of the carton box with a ripped piece of bread, I get up and migrate to the large L-shaped sofa. In the dimly lit room, I light a tall candle and put it on the window sill, before resting my elbows on the backrest of the couch. Through the rain running on the glass, I can see the light coming from your window, but I can’t say if you are there.
The way this man was shushing me was so very evocative. It didn’t mean ”don’t speak”. I remember how goosebumps covered my forearms when I realized it. It meant ”stop seeking to be listened to”. I probably blushed a little when the thought ran through my mind. You were right, big mysterious man… Absolutely right. It was easy to be quiet, but this little voice inside of me had never ceased to hope for that kind ear I had long lost. Muzzling it was much more of a challenge than actually not speaking out.
I brush my hands on the cold glass childishly, as if it would clear the water on the other side. I want to catch a glimpse of your shadow up there. Just this very moment, I wish to fail again, and be tempted to connect. I could just play around, and tell you a long series of lies, making up my whole life…. Or be completely honest. For once.
I don’t know where she came from. I didn’t see her coming, lost in my thoughts.
Excuse me, Madame…
The old woman’s voice was a little eerie. Before I knew it, she was sitting next to me, engaging in a long monologue about how she had recently lost the room she rented in a nearby cheap building, and had been homeless since. Life was hard on the street, even more so for women, she said. I could tell by her gnarled fingers and brown teeth that begging wasn’t that recent to her, but I let her go on and tell the story as she wanted.
I could have told her. Why I was here. She couldn’t have done anything about it, that’s a sure thing. But I didn’t. I burried that little voice deep inside of me for good, and I listened to her tales of misfortune. We laughed together for a moment, I saw wisdom in her vibrant green eyes.
As I stood again, ready to head home, I asked for her name.
”Joane” she said soflty.
I reached in my pocket and slipped a twenty Euros bill in her hand.
”Treat yourself with something nice tonight, Joane!”
She smiled, showing all her crooked teeth, and I left.
I yawn, and notice the rain has stopped. Victor is standing outside the window, licking one of his front paws, lazily. The light is still on, upstairs, across the inner yard, but it is time to call it a day.
I blow the candle out, and climb upstairs, pensive.
Tomorrow is another day.