Sun 15 May
My final week and everything is under control. I have a busy day ahead, the adrenalin is flowing, but Cleo has made some coffee so I linger a while, then down to college, no students so I get off to town. At the British Embassy I collect my new passport. Disappointingly place-of-issue is "FCO" , I was kind of looking forward to writing "Khartoum" on all those arrival and departure forms for the next ten years. The lady at the Embassy has been very helpful so I chat a while about her plans and mine. She's just decided to extend her stay for a year. I promise I'll be back soon.
I call Manaahil and suggest breakfast. It's hard to hear her on the phone. I think she wants to see me but not now, possibly not at work. Too bad, I'm in the area and now is good for me.
When I arrive she's not in the office. I venture into the museum admiring, as always, the enormous hollowed-out war drum.
She's sat waiting quietly, for the most part, obscured by a pillar. I realise she was watching me, looking for her. She's not happy. Well that's just not fair. I was always going to leave sometime. There was always going to be a "last time". I can't console her. She hasn't much to say.
I want to hold her, hug her, tell her it will be all right. It's just a fancy idea that was never going to happen. She'll get over it. But you know the touch thing is difficult. No worse than difficult, it's "Haram" (forbidden) for these Muslims. How useless. Frustrating. We're alone in this museum, no one will see us, then we're alone in her office. Surely she wants to feel that embrace. But I don't risk it. I'm too much of a coward, or perhaps I don't know what it means. Perhaps, I've misled her too much already. In the end I shake her hand. She grips mine firmly and awkwardly. I depart.