Street Talk (part 1 of 3)
It was 7:30 when I parked my car and started walking along the street in the direction of the restaurant. It was a nice evening, warm and dry, and I looked forward to a short walk before dinner.
“Do you know the name of this street?” The question came from a man standing close to a building nearby. I did not see him in the shadows and was startled at first. I told him the name. He looked around and seemed as confused as before. He was in his fifties, had dark hair and dark complexion. He did not look local and had a foreign accent.
He kept looking at me, and down to his feet, but said nothing. “Are you lost?” I asked, trying to catch his eyes. “No”, he said, “I just walked out. I am sure I can find my way back.” “Is there any problem?” I asked, but he just waved it away. “It’s OK.”
I was about to say goodbye, and walk away when he said: “You are not afraid, are you?”
“No,” I said smiling, “should I?”
“No,” he said, “but many people are. They will not talk to me.”
I waited. There was not much to say.
“This is not like home,” he said. “It does not smell like home, does not look like home.” “People have no respect for anything, and women are half dressed, you can’t even look at them!”
I pulled my evening dress up a little. It was decent, but his words embarrassed me. “Am I decent I asked?”
“It’s OK with me. Not OK for Morocco.”
“I just walked out,” he said. “My sons are fighting about money, and my wife is crying all the time. I should have told them to stop, but I’m fed up. It is always the same. Always these fights and my wife is crying and crying. She never stops crying.
What am I doing here? My life is not going anywhere.”
I was lost for words. I just came out of my car where a Vivaldi concert was playing and was thinking of this meeting. I saw a bench nearby and asked: “can we sit down for a moment?” He nodded and sat down at some distance as if making sure nothing of his will touch anything of mine.
“I came here twenty years ago,” he said, “and never talked to a woman like you.”
It could be funny the way he said it but it wasn’t. He was so serious.
Something broke in me. He was so vulnerable. He looked like a strong man, and from the way he talked, it seemed as if such conversations were not his daily routine.
“I was born here 35 years ago and never spoke to a man like you ever before,” I said. He now looked into my eyes. “Give me a smile,” I said and laughed.
He did and blushed.
And then, sad again, he said: “Why do you talk to me? Do you look for a man? Sex?”
“No,” I said, “no sex. Just talking to each other, like we never did before, then you will go home, and I will go to my meeting. OK?”
“OK,” he said and smiled again…
(to be continued)