As I was thinking, I heard footsteps and a dry cough. I turned my head and saw Araniti, one of the people working in comrade Shemshedin’s department. I didn’t have any kind of friendship with him. He was said to be a hard and ungrateful man. Araniti was an economist by profession, but dealt with cultural affairs. As others said, he had extensive knowledge not only in the field of culture, but also in the field of history, archaeology and art. When he spoke at a meeting with his frowning brows, his wide mouth, with a heavy tone, everyone was silent, because he imposed on everyone with his authority. Some thought that he should be in comrade Zylo’s post, or in the place of Shemshedin. Comrade Zylo had heard these gossips. That’s why he was afraid of this sinister man, always sunk into work, always deep in thought. Araniti’s gaze was always humiliating. He never looked at comrade Zylo, although he didn’t work with him. But since the department headed by comrade Zylo co-operated with the department headed by comrade Shemshedin, Araniti had insight in all issues of both sectors, and their offices were close by, in the same corridor.
– Did you pick up the report? – he asked me disdainfully.
– It’s better for everyone to mind his own business – I said.
– Pick it up, pick it up! – he said gloomily and walked away with heavy steps down the corridor.
I came home early. I opened my black bag and pulled out the pile of white writing paper. On this white paper I can write a novel and a novella. I wrote a long text and published it in “November”. This short story was featured into an anthology. It is my only work mentioned from time to time. But will the reports be mentioned? I look at the paper and think: “What happens if I don’t write the document to comrade Q. at all?” Moreover, tell him openly that I don’t want to! Pretend I’m sick. Take a doctor’s report and close myself at home. Ah, damn it! I wish he had left with some delegation to Zanzibar and save me from these reports and addresses! I heard that comrade Zylo was going to Africa with a delegation to attend a conference on the topic “The Culture of Africa Compared to European Culture”. But, even if he goes there, I won’t be saved from the reports. They’ll follow me through the jungles of Africa and in the greatest heat… Ah, even if I escape to the Eskimos, the reports will follow me!… How? Is it true that comrade Zylo will go to Africa? Who came up with the place!…
My wife opened the door and found me standing by the table. I notices joy and liveliness in her face. She approached me, hugged me and said:
– We’re going to Durrës tonight. Do you know, Demkë? Zana got engaged.
Zana is her sister, my sister-in-law, an older girl who barely found a husband, poor thing…
– Good luck! – I said coldly.
– We’ll go with the 5 o’clock train. We haven’t been there in two months.
– We’ll see, we’ll do something – I tell her.
– What do you mean ‘we’ll see’? We’ve distanced ourselves from people. We’ve closed ourselves inside and we don’t go out – says my wife and get away from me.
I’m ashamed that tomorrow I have to hand over the document to comrade Q. But, in order to hand it over tomorrow, I have to write it tonight.
– I’m not coming, Zeynepe. You’d better go alone – I say to her.
Her face frowns. She sits on the couch and looks at me sadly. Then she looks at the pile of white paper. Then she looks at my black bag.
I keep silent.
– And I thought you were getting rid of the obligation – she sighed.
– Comrade Q. asked me to write him a document for the great event – I tell her.