Today I sat on the wall, the cold metal fence providing something to lean back on. I swung my feet back and forth, meaning my heels would hit the brick wall i was sitting on quite often.
I'd planned to meet my friend in the city centre, but I'd come 4 hours earlier than planned to look around the exciting bustle, shrouded in my own thoughts.
I didn't understand how she could be so positive and persistent
What had caught my attention was a scarily thin woman my mother's age. She carried a backpack and approached strangers, she would detail her life story to them, and ask them to buy a joke book to help her 'get back on her feet'. As people shooed her away, or point blank denied her existence, I couldn't help my amazement as her cheerful attitude never swayed. She was ridiculously polite, and as she called out to passers by, she would compliment them - by saying 'excuse me trendy lady', or 'handsome man' etc. A few responded with swear words, but her activeness didn't sway.
It was just beyond my comprehension how she did not snap or give up.
Out of the corner of my eye, a guy approached me. He stood for a small amount of time next to me, following my gaze.
"Waiting for someone?"
My father, I lied, not bothering to look to him. Usually that two word sentence would drive the guy away like I had just told him my father was a cannibal.
"would he be angry if I talked to you?"
That completely caught me off guard, and I turned to face him with shock on my face. A simple no was all that was needed for him to start talking again. He asked me where I was from, and I replied Iraq, with a smile on my face.
I must be psychic, i thought to myself. I had predicted this, as well as his next sentence.
"from the North?" he asked hopefully.
I told him Baghdad. He nodded his head, as if my answer affirmed his suspicions.
His next question, I had also not predicted. "Christian?".
I shook my head, with an air of bewilderment. He repeated the word, but in Arabic this time.
I understood the first time, i thought to myself, I just didn't know what prompted these weird questions .Instead of asking why he would ask me that, I stated that he could speak Arabic. He nodded vigorously, and then asked me if my father would mind if he sat next to me.
Again, I failed to hide my initial reaction of surprise at his exceedingly strange question.
He slumped against the fence next to me, with a hint of triumph. That left me free to return my sight to the eternally cheerful woman. He started talking generally, though in all truthfulness I had no idea what he said. My thoughts were completely with the energetic joke woman, her dyed hair flowing in the wind as she bounded across the pavements.
I nodded from time to time, but pretty soon he caught on, and stood in front of me. Blocking my view of the joke book seller. That kind of annoyed me. But nevertheless, I looked up at him and smiled bravely. He asked my age, but he replied with his before i had even managed to open my mouth. I'm still trying to figure out whether his eyes looked younger or older than his real age. He was young, but his accent visible. He had said he had lived here for 10 years.
He asked something about my parents, though i'm not sure what, as my mind had drifted back to his christian question.
Self consciously i pulled my dress down, and pulled my cardigan up. If my cardigan had been any higher, it would have been around my chin, so I'm not sure why i felt the need to pull it up.Immediately I felt angry at myself for caring about the judgement of a stranger.
Interrupting my thoughts, he told me if I was cold, we could go inside the shopping mall.
He had no doubt seen me tugging at my clothes. I was glad for his interpretation, and blindly agreed.
We talked in Arabic for the whole conversation, and although his Arabic was far from perfect, I knew only a few Kurdish words.
I endlessly asked him for words, and i would repeat them, as he would laugh at my pronunciation. He detailed his whole life story to me, and I listened attentively, occasionally saying something, which would make him grin, or laugh rather loudly.
I knew i was funny, but at times his laugh was too loud. Or maybe just loud compared to the ghostly quiet around us.
He was from Suleimaneya. As he came to his one year spent in turkey, I said a few Turkish phrases that had stuck in my head. He then proceeded to talk to me in Turkish. I shook my head, not understanding a word.
"i thought you might have been turkmani", he explained. I nodded not understanding what his wild guesses were based on, and not understanding why it even mattered.
Inside the mall, brightly coloured gifts caught my attention, and I realised his sight was also on something else - a Kurdish family passed us, the father pushing a pram. I hoped he knew them, so they would talk while i slipped into the shop. That didn't happen, as they exchanged only glances.
My psychic abilities were back, as I predicted where our conversation would lead. Outside he talked of his parents bugging him to marry. He told me he had not decided yet. He asked me if i had decided. I really had no idea as to what he meant precisely, only that it was to do with marriage. I replied to him that life was too unpredictable to decide. He then asked if I had a boyfriend, to which my reply was my eyebrows shooting halfway up my head, and my lower jaw dropping. 'of course not'.
Awkwardness followed, which was saved by an acquaintance of the guy walking past. They greeted each other; i tried to avoid the gaze of the hooded and capped guy, who was holding an angry dog, in fear that he too looked like his snarling pet. It was explained that the hoodie guy was his neighbour. My eyes following the dog and his owner, as they joined a larger group of track suited young men. The dogs jumped at each other viciously, and at the other owners.
He asked me if I was afraid of dogs teasingly, and I replied truthfully 'no I'm afraid of cats'.
Laughter followed, and he took out cigarettes as he asked me if i smoked.I mumbled on the life shortening ways of cigarettes.He told me he had started smoking eight years ago, when his 30 year old brother died.
That pretty much shut me up.
Although politely he turned his back to me when he smoked, and blew the smoke in the opposite direction of where i was standing. Long streams of smoke hit random passers by, and I couldn't help grinning widely. We walked on.
In the corner stood a woman with blonde hair, streaked with pink. She held a guitar, and I abruptly stopped walking, excited to hear her melodies. He had noticed i had stopped and turned around and given me a look, which clearly indicated how weird he thought i was. I couldn't help smiling childishly. Adamantly he walked back..but only to try to get me to walk on...
I walked on a few steps, disappointed, as he kept on talking ...
i stubbornly stopped walking and stood in front of the singing hippy lady.
This time he hadn't noticed. It was perhaps the time to part - 4 hours had passed quickly.
I started walking the opposite way. Away from his lonely eyes, and away from her pink hair.