A few hours later Riti heard a raspy knock on the door. Two heavily built men entered the office and found Riti at his desk, rubbing his chin which was beginning to sprout hair. Due to the general acute food shortage most people in town were skinny but the two strangers looked well fed and healthy, an indication that they were new arrivals, most probably from Khartoum.
“Riti, how are you?” said one of the two men. He sounded friendly as if he knew Riti. Although Riti was quite surprised he didn’t show it. The other man wore an expressionless face.
“You are the photographer here, aren’t you?”
Riti nodded. He didn’t know the two strangers. He couldn’t remember meeting or seeing them. He could swear he didn’t know them. They were southerners, alright, but they spoke in fluent, refined Arabic. They spoke like people who had studied in good Arabic schools in northern Sudan.
“We are security. We are on duty. Can you get away from your desk for a minute?” The man said this while his colleague remained silent.
One of the security men, the one who didn’t say a word at all, went to Riti’s desk and pulled opened the drawer. He rummaged through black and white printed photographs. He shuffled the photographs like cards and stopped to study a photograph that caught his attention. He twisted his mouth sideways and spoke for the first time.
“Riti, you have such a rich photo library. Were you the one took all these photos?” The man’s voice sounded feminine, which didn’t match his masculine physique.
Riti sort of nodded innocently. He never locked his drawers because it was a public office.
“We found what we are looking for. Can you accompany us to headquarters?” said the security man with the feminine voice.
Riti hesitated, confused, but managed to say, “My boss must know while I’m accompanying you two because I’m still on duty.”