Monday, May 23, 2005

"I am study English"

Wearing a faded blue cotton button down shirt, rumpled brown linen pants, and sandals with a split toe made him look vaguely Japanese. He smiled as I boarded the bus, red-faced and sweaty from the combination of the desert heat and the body armor. His smile increased, revealing crooked, yellowing teeth in a dark creased face, and he said, "welcome, welcome" in a surprisingly soft voice. He looked at me expectantly.

"Hello" I said, "Marhaba, ani mulazem Adam, tasharafna"(Hello, my name is LT Adam, nice to meet you.) He beamed, but left me wondering if he had understood my tortured attempt at Arabic. I tried again in English,"How long have you worked for the bus company?"

"4 months" he said, and lifting a thick, calloused finger into the air, he punctuated his thoughts. "Before, I work in Turkey, for five year, Saudi Arabia for seven year, Iraq, for seven year, and Kuwait, again for five year."

Stopping, he turned and reached into a crumpled plastic bag kept at the foot of his leather drivers seat. Sitting up, he pulled out a stack of folded papers, each neatly lettered in English with painstaking precision. He shuffles thru the stack of papers. "I am study English" he announced, and he looked thru the paperwork again. "I have one son," and with this, he looked anxiously up, inspecting my face to see if his English was acceptable.

I smiled, and he glanced back down at his tightly clutched papers. I could see that the papers were frayed around the corners from use, and that they were a sort of Turkish-English phrase book that he had compiled in his careful handwriting.

Finally, he found the phrase he had been looking for. "I want to go to America, two years." He looked up and with determination in his eyes, he exclaimed, "I want to live there." He looked almost embarassed for a moment at the ferocity in his voice, and he quickly looked down, muttering over his phrase book.

As he did so, I could not help but reflect that I had no doubt, that he would somehow manage to fulfill his dream of living in America.


Anonymous Babydoll said...

Well babe,

I have to say I enjoy your posts. I forgot what a wonderful writer you were, I will have to listen to the audio later tonight as a treat. I'm just happy I can access this from my work computer since I tend to remember to look at this sort of thing while I am at work.

I hope you get my e-mails okay, only thing I can do besides this to contact you and let you know I think about you a lot.

Love always,

12:22 PM  

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