I enter the underground. It’s packed, but there is a free seat next to a woman of distant origin. Round about forty. She’s rummaging in her handbag, but takes it onto her lap and shuffles around to make space for me. She gives me a smile, barely noticeable, but a smile so full of warmth that it touches me.
I sit down beside her and inhale. I smell a thousand scents of the Orient, spices and perfumes, bodies and wood, sand and the sun. Her headscarf is perfectly wrapped around her pretty face. She’s beautiful. And warm. A stubborn little strand of hair has loosened itself from under the headscarf and tickles her cheek.
There is only little space between us but neither our bodies nor our clothes or belongings touch. Still, I can feel her warm skin against the little hairs on my arm and the texture of her textiles against my skin. I can feel it through the air, the space between us.
It’s not even a deep wish or a need, but an utmost urge that is crawling up inside of me:
I want to tell her how beautiful she is, how wonderful her headscarf suits her pretty profile. But moreover, I want to rest my head against her shoulder and I want to listen to two thousand and two stories told by her. Stories of sand and scents and love and people. I want to dive into her stories, close my eyes and while inhaling all these scents from far away and yet so close, I want to feel her warmth through her garments on my neck as she embraces me and listen to her voice, taking me somewhere I have never been, a world I have never seen, and maybe never will.
And it wouldn’t even matter if she told me those stories in her mother tongue and I wouldn’t understand a word of those syllables that are unknown to my ears. Because I know the sound and the waves and vibrations of words would make me understand and let me walk right next to her while she is passing through her line of talk.
Three stops later we both have to get out.
She goes her way and I follow mine.
And I will never know her stories.
And she will never know that I wrote one about her.
Gina Laventura © 2014