The language of not knowing
I sit in a coffee shop and the words around me are foreign.
There are two girls sitting at a small table chatting away, moving their hands and giggling, I know that they must be gossiping. I watch them, their eyes open wide but smiling, their hands gesticulating wildly trying to convey with movements as well as words. I sit and watch all these silent conversataions.
I look over to another side of the coffee shop, there I see a family, two children a boy and a girl sitting with their parents, looking happy. They are eating ice cream, stuffing the oversized spoons into their chubby faces, nothing could be greater than this they think, while their parents drink their coffee and gaze at their happy family. I sit and watch them.
At the back of the shop there are two lovers. I look to them, the girl is talking quickly, her face is livid, she is flailing her hands in the air. The man just looks at her, his face flushed with disbelief. I see his eyes and notice they are watery, tears and regret in them shine. The girl just keeps talking, quickly, without making any sense at all. She stands up and leaves. I am left looking at the man, he mouths a word to me, I don’t know his word for it but I know he means ‘love’.
I come to this coffee shop in the middle of town, I abuse myself with the fact that all of the faces and language are foreign to me but still I sit here and watch them and listen. I have gotten good at knowing people’s expressions. Do you know not one person’s laugh is the same! There is the high pitched laugh of a school girl with her friends. The low chuckle of a man meeting his date for the first time. The howl of a young man watching his favourite sports team winning thereby winning him his bet.
I watch all these things in this small coffee shop in the middle of town. I listen to words that are foreign to me but realized that the emotion behind the words are the same. I realize that I am not so lonely now.
I have yet to understand their words when they speak to me and yes I see that they think I am slow or even stupid for not knowing their words. But I also see the reality of life in these conversations. They do not know who I am, to them, I am just another foreigner in their land. They do not care if I watch them relentlessly to understand just one word.
I relish the fact that they think I am witless and can say anything to me and have them think I do not understand when all along I understand it all, their expressions, their eyes, their hands all betray their meaning. They are the ones who really do not understand.
So, I sit in the coffee shop in the middle of town and drink my coffee and nod my head to the passers by, the laughing girls, the small happy family and even the lonely man, for they have all seen me and I have seen them. And they understand.
We all know the language of not knowing…