They openly stare at me as I pull up to our driveway. They are the older couple that lives two doors down from us in a house I’ve never seen because, like all the other houses on our street, theirs sits behind walls and gates, whole worlds hidden from honking cars and dozens and dozens of passersby.
They watch me intently the way I imagine I might when I have walked this earth for almost as many decades as I have fingers. They show interest without embarrassment, peering through the dirty windshield at the American woman with the giant sunglasses as she carefully eases her large, unusual van through the gate.
His hair is a light, ashy gray; I can’t tell the color of hers because I’ve never seen her without a kerchief tied around it. She is small in stature but gripping a chair — he sits, every day, in the narrow alley that snakes past the other side of their house. I’ve passed him before reclining in his chair, arms extended in front of him to rest on a walker.
He’s leaning heavily on the walker now, breathing with effort even as they observe me. In his chair he is a regal lion of an older generation, watching all the people clamor around potholes. He’s lived through war and the emancipation of his country; he’s seen his city devolve into rubble, watched it be rebuilt.
I wonder if they have children.
They’ve disappeared through their own gate moments before mine closes all the way. Perhaps I’ll bring some cookies by sometime, and my children to ease the awkwardness when we can’t say much else. It’ll be me looking in their eyes, then; will they see it? I’ll be thinking, “I want to learn Azerbaijani because of you. I want to hear your stories.”
Linking up with Bigger Picture Blogs today at This Heavenly Life.