Eyes that speak
With dad away in India and a day's holiday, the kids were beginning to get bored when I approved their plea to walk them to the corniche along the lagoon. Mira for one shed her laziness and walked without much complaint - the desire to get in shape or rather keep obesity and associated perils at arm's length is driving her more now.
For a change, we turned left this time and walked till the paved pathway met the steps to the road overbridge. And walked back until we came accross an empty bench. Ash found an empty plastic bottle to kick around the lawn while Mira decided to turn my hair stylist after a while. Just as she had finished plaiting my hair to an embarrassing arch, a old lady dressed in black came and sat beside us. She smiled at us - rather the twinkle in her eyes told me she had a smile on, for that was the only part of her self that was exposed - and said something in a language we didnt understand. I had no pretensions of speaking in Arabic so I smiled back a couple of times and kept quiet. We had been preparing to leave when she joined us on the bench but I didnt want the lady to think that we were scooting away because of her, so I told Mira to wait a while.
And then she asked me in Hindi/Urdu: Are you from India?
I was relieved to be able to communicate with old friendly eyes in a language I could understand. No, she was not from India, she was from Lahore, Pakistan. She had come visiting her son who lived in an apartment right behind us. That was her husband and son standing across talking intently.
With the prejudice of a foreigner who hears/sees on TV only scenes of blasts, I asked her how safe Lahore is. She told me Lahore had no problem, only Karachi. But today's earthqauke was very severe and tragic. I hadnt yet heard about it, and she explanied its severity.
I chatted in my broken Hindi often using English words when I could not find the right Hindi word. I missed not being able to see the smile on her lips as I said good bye. That is something one has to get used to here. Reading eyes instead of the lips.