9.03.2005

Yaar the Champion

I grabbed the seat closest to the front of the crowded bus, the one jammed behind the driver with no view. The little woman sitting next me was attractive, middle-aged, and foreign. I smiled, said hello and then made an off-hand comment about the crowded condition of the bus.

"It was not this bizzy when I took at sevens in the morning. But now I take it later; it's bizzy." She smiled. She had a cute smile. She had y wrinkles around her eyes, olive skin and a crop of curly brown hair pulled up in a loose ponytail. She was dressed casual nice.

"You don't have to go to work so early anymore?" I chimed in, "That's good. You can sleep in now!"
She smiled, "No, I have five childrrren." She gazed at me as the information sank in. She was gratified by my response.
"Five?"
"Yes."
"What ages?"
"My oldest thirteen. My youngest five." She gave a pleased smile that was half exhausted and half mischievous.
"Wow! That's a lot!"
"My husband is dead. I am widow," she added.
"Oh," I replied, rather sobered, "so you have a lot of work to do each morning!"
Again the exhausted impish look, "Yes." She was staring at me again. "I'm here in U.S. three years. I have no family living here to help out. My husband family, I no like them. They think because I widow I do something bad, you know..." Here she gave me a pious, celibate frown meant to allay my fears that she might be running out on her dead husband.
I smiled at her. "What country are you from?"
"I move here from Germany, but I come from Afghanistan. After my husband die."

"Do you miss it? Afghanistan?" I asked.
"No," she shook her head thoughtfully, "It is beautiful country, but I don't like anymore..." She trailed off and smiled shyly.
'Your husband's family lives there?"
"Yes. There."
"So you have no one here in the U.S.?" As I watched her face I couldn't believe that she was about to hit me up for money, she looked too well off. But then why would she volunteer so much information to a total stranger?

"I have few friend. They help sometimes. One friend, Elizabeth, from the college, she come and tutor my childrrren each week. They speak now better English than me!" I liked the way she rolled her 'r's. She added a laugh and shook her head good-naturedly. "I have also other friend," she lowered her head and almost whispered, "A man. His name is Mohammed, but he not Arab, he black, you know Muslim, but from here," she pointed to the floor.
"Oh!" I nodded affirmingly. Her smile broke out like sunshine.
"He a good friend, he help out with kids sometimes, you know." She rocked her head side to side to indicate the breezy way in which she could take or leave this friend.
"That's good!" I responded. "Everybody needs friends."

I imagined her and this black Mohammed, their budding friendship and the growing sense of impropriety that their friendship created in this woman's life. She was obviously proud of him, whatever his role.

I turned back to the green-brown eyes, "Do you work down here?" I pointed vaguely out the window.
"Yes, I work at hotel _ _ _. I work there two years."
"Oh really? What do you do at the hotel? Are you a manager?" I couldn't imagine this lively, intelligent woman cleaning rooms.
"No," she murmured, "I do the rooms, you know..." She looked embarassed.
"Oh! Really? I used to do that, too!" A complete lie. "Do you like working there?"
"Is ok," she shrugged. "I'm sorry my English so bad. It's very hard. I know five language, but in my country no one teaching English, so..."
"Actually, your English is quite good. It will get better the longer you live here." I beamed at the little Afghani.
"I used to be teacher," she confessed.
"Really? What did you teach?"
"My language. To children. I know Russian, Farsi, Hindi and two languages of Afghanistan. But I can't speak English very well."

As a teacher and a perfectionist, I could easily understand her frustration living in a country whose language she'd never been taught. How hard, I thought, to know so much and be unable to express it. I assured her, "It will get easier over time. Don't worry."

As we pulled up to my stop, I rose from my seat to exit the bus. I turned back to say goodbye and as I did this small woman opened her arms to hug me. As I hugged her I wondered when I would ever hug a total stranger on the bus again.

"My name is Sarah, by the way. What's yours?"
"We are."
I struggled for comprehension, "We are?"
"Y-A-A-R," she spelled out the all important word as I stepped backward toward the door of the bus.
"Yaar. OK. Goodbye," I said it as the doors slid shut.

The bus pulled away carrying the only Afghani immigrant I know.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Worldgineer said...

Cool. Great story. So, you're a teacher in real life too?

3/9/05 11:27  
Blogger k_sra said...

I have taught. Drama mostly.

I wonder sometimes when I meet people like Yaar if I will ever see them again.

3/9/05 11:41  
Blogger Lukas Abrhm said...

single serving friends?
priceless.
and if you do see her again, you already know her freaking life story...so i guess it's your turn, eh?

3/9/05 17:27  
Blogger k_sra said...

That's the strange thing about being me; people spill their guts all the time and rarely ever want my guts in return...

It means I was meant to be a writer!

3/9/05 18:59  
Blogger Lukas Abrhm said...

or a psychic...you pick.

3/9/05 19:56  
Blogger k_sra said...

I thought psychics didn't need to be told.

3/9/05 20:23  
Blogger Lukas Abrhm said...

then you've never called a psychic (nor have i, might i add, but i knew a girl who had a 3k dollar phone bill once) because they ask questions as much as they answer them...that and most folks who call them, tell them enough that anyone would surmise the truth.
and things.

3/9/05 22:26  
Blogger k_sra said...

Oh. That makes sense. Hmmm. Would I have to wear a turban or talk in a fake accent I wonder?

4/9/05 08:53  
Blogger Worldgineer said...

It may help business. Who wants their psychic to be a regular person? Maybe your wig can help. Or your sari, though I don't know any link from Indian culture to psychics.

4/9/05 14:26  
Anonymous normzone said...

That's the k_sra I know and love....great post, sis.

4/9/05 15:44  
Blogger Tara said...

Hm..she's a widow, Noble is single....Does Noble like kids? "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.."

Course she's "friends" with that other guy, though.

4/9/05 19:36  
Anonymous Afro Assault said...

I'm jealous, I've never known anyone named after a pirate saying before.

16/9/05 02:04  

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