I was sat in the armchair directly facing the elephant. I hated this chair. I always felt so self-conscious sitting there with its trunk slightly swaying from side to side a few inches from my face, trying to go along with the pretense by Mariam that it wasn’t there.
But I had gone along with the charade on the first day, and the time after that, and the one after that, until it was too late to say “What’s this elephant doing in the middle of your living-room?” Mariam would push its trunk to one side as she prattled on at me, or as she brought in the tray with biscuits and tea. She even leaned against it once when she was feeling tired. But she never spoke to it, never referred to it, and acted as if there was no reason why anybody else ever would either. It stood there silently, resigned to being left out.