You believe that you live in one world, he said. A world where fiction and fact are different. Separate, like rooms in a house. You pass from one to the other and only think of the doorway.
I don’t understand, I said. What does this have to do with what I saw last night?
He drew a deep breath, as though preparing for physical exertion. Here, he said, it is not like that. In Kinshasa they are not rooms in a house, but fingers on a hand. They work in tandem without knowing. They rely on one another. Do you see?
It seemed like a dream, I said.
And so it was, he said. And also was not. May I ask you this: why did you come here?
I can’t remember. I must’ve had a reason.
So you did, he smiled. But now you have another, if you wish it.
This story is inspired by Kinshasa: Tales of the Invisible City, by Filip De Boeck and Marie-Françoise Plissart.
“The second world is the one of the invisible,” says one inhabitant of Kinshasa, “and those who live in it and know are those who have four eyes, those who can see clearly both in the day and the night. Their eyes are a mirror. The man with two eyes only cannot know this world. The second world is superior to ours.”