Coming up the last part of the 203 steps to our place, just below the garden gate, we run into M’s mother C—with whom he doesn’t live. We don’t know exactly why. He lives next door with his aunt E. C is spiffed up for some event. She looks quite lovely.
We exchange impressions. Yes, the neighborhood seems calmer. M. is hanging out less with Q, she says. We say that’s wonderful. I’m not sure we talk about the cameras, six of them on four different houses. He’s more serious about his studies, she says. We say that’s wonderful. I say then, if he goes to the university, perhaps we can help (with the costs). I believe she internalizes my remark. We say good-bye, she going down the steps, we up.
I wonder whether the information about our offer will filter through to M, whether it will make a difference, change the equation. In the days that follow, M appears several times in front of our door, sometimes with Q, sometimes without him. The lads choose to have their conversations right in front of our door, they don’t appear to be high on paint thinner etc. Their behavior, we think, is different. Is it the holidays, the cold winter nights, is that why it’s so calm in the alley? Is it also that the message got through? Is that a possibility? Does M know perhaps that tuition will not be the reason he can’t go to the university? We watch all this on the cameras—like looking into an aquarium of somewhat less madness. We wait to see what happens next.