This hate I feel hovers around me like a dark shadow, it drains my energy, sucks my blood dry, and makes my heart weak. Does she see it in my eyes when I look at her? Does she sense it when I walk past her? Does she feel it when I sit beside her? Does she hear it in my voice when I speak to her?
I am consumed and possessed by it. This hate is constantly gnawing at my heart and leaving me gasping for air, I feel it in my bones. It makes me sick and leaves me feeling wretched.
Does she pass by my seat in the morning without as much as a word of greeting because she hates me too? Are her half-hearted mumblings of reply when I greet first proof that the feeling is mutual? Is her attitude when she talks to me in that condescending tone a show of loathing? Can her flippant reference to me and my designation in her last official email count as her expression of aversion towards me?
There is no climax to this hate I feel. There is no anticlimax either. It is there in my blood, hot and boiling through my veins. These veins of mine seem like they would burst, just like those pimples that appear on my face ripe and ready to pop as if on cue when it is that time of the month.
“I’m a tickin’ dynamite. I’ll blow your candle light,” she hums Ayra Starr’s ‘Bloody Samaritan’ under her breath as she walks by me to the office kitchen.
She – the object of this feeling that is new to me, one I have never known before now – takes on another key as she continues to hum, “You know I’m just that type. No, dem no fit kill my vibe.”
At the entrance, she stops to read the rules typed on a plain white A4 paper pasted on the door. These are the same rules, four, five or so listed one after the other, that have been on the door for at least a year. Is she actually reading them?
It wakes me from sleep, this hate I feel. It adds a stoop to my gait, a slouch to my sitting posture and makes my limbs heavy when I walk.
“Oh, hi!” she mumbles one of her half-hearted responses to my rather loud greeting without even stopping to look at me. There she is again, going up the stairs, the soles of her sneakers squeaky and heavy on the tiled steps. I wonder if she knows that I am boring holes through her back with my eyes which I have raised from my laptop for that purpose.
“How’s it going?” I ask, desperate to say something, anything.
She does not hear, or pretends not to, for she does not respond and continues her walk up the stairs.
I bury my head back in my laptop and press the keypad furiously. I am supposed to be writing, but I cannot get past the first sentence. So, I try to read instead. Still, I do not get past the first sentence.
It is another Monday morning, she walks in, greets a colleague seated beside me and ignores me. I pretend to be busy on my laptop, but all I do is stare at the screen. I want to type, but I cannot. My chest feels constricted, tightening my airway, and I fear that I might die.
Today, she is wearing brown patterned Ankara dungarees over a black T-shirt along with a pair of sneakers. This is her style – half bohemian, half hippie. I love it, I admit.
“Oh, hi!” comes her typical response to my “Good morning.” I want to lunge at her from across the room and throttle her. How long will this go on for? I am tired. This feeling makes me tired. Yet, I cannot rid myself of it.
Every morning, I wake with bags under my eyes and I am as tired as the previous night. I do not feel like I have had a minute of rest. I struggle to get out of bed, I drag my feet to the bathroom, I brush my teeth in a daze and lather my naked body mechanically, staring blindly at the tiled wall in front of me.
“The boss wants to know if you sent that email as discussed.” She is behind me, speaking in that same accent where she stresses her Rs and NGs. Did she sneak up on me? I neither heard nor saw her come down the stairs. For how long has she been standing there? I catch her looking over my shoulder and into my laptop.
“Oh, no! I haven’t even sent it,” I say, turning around to face her and trying to hide my surprise. I want to remember which of the tabs is open on my laptop, as I look at her.
“I am just waiting to sort out some things,” I add, uncomfortable with her closeness.
“Okay. That’s fine,” she responds, turns as swiftly as she appeared behind me, and goes back up the stairs.
The sound of her sneakers is heavy on the steps again. This is another pair, I observe. I see she loves sneakers. What else does she love? Her gold knuckle rings for sure. Perhaps, too, her natural hair which she plaits quite simply.
I hate myself for feeling this way. I hate her for making me feel this way. And I want to hate Z for this. But I do not hate him. I cannot hate him. All I want is to take that day back – the day I sent that email introducing them to each other for the purpose of work.
Now they carry on like they are best friends and he no longer talks to me. The last time there was any semblance of communication between us, it was to respond to my text, “Please, I beg you, do not make working with her more uncomfortable for me than it already is.”
“I do not understand. I am confused,” he had said, insisting that it was all in my head. “Communication between us is strictly via email.”
Yet, I have seen how they go back and forth with texts and phone calls. How could this be in my head? The sudden attitude from the colleague after I made the introductions. The tension between us, so thick it could be cut with a knife. The look of daggers reserved just for me, which she does not attempt to conceal. They cannot all be in my head.
“Oh, I need to call Z,” she says loud enough for me to hear, suddenly, out of the blue, and with no prompting whatsoever.
I sigh heavily, slouch on my seat, and stare at my laptop, making no progress with my work. Is there no end to this hate I feel?
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