My silent friend


The city's made my island holiday
a distant memory now
yet i found last night
a photo from a special day
on the boat to Paros
i became friends with
a French boy
called Kevin
(which didn't sound particularly French to me)
his face stuck on the deck window
patiently waiting for the dolphins to show up
two hours already and still no sign of them
until suddenly
he jumps towards me
waving three fingers
the happiest little face in the world
"there's four of them", i correct him
(dolphins always swim in pairs)

he's soon joined by his sister and baby brother
and I'm now surrounded by three fair-haired, blue eyed angels
really shy at first
but now comfortably sitting on my lap
sharing my biscuits
hugging me and messing with my hair
and it's not until my boyfriend notices
that i realize
these kids are mute
these beautiful, healthy children
and run around
driving the old lady who's trying to get some sleep
yet they hardly make any sound
i join them in their game
take out my note pad
(mum always used to say "have pen & paper with you at all times")
and for the next half hour or so
all we do is draw hearts and trees and flowers
which keeps them still for a while
the table is full of candy wrap
and I'm looking for the waste bin
my little friend gesticulates
trying to explain where I can find one
i don't understand what he's saying
my French is non-existent
and my pen & paper cannot help me now
he patiently tries again
and again
until i finally get it

I'm a linguist
but I don't care what they say
there's no language
stronger or clearer
than body language
When Kevin's mum comes looking for them
we start chatting, sort of
she's without speech as well
but can read my lips
she says how beautiful Antiparos - our final destination - is
and we exchange emails
so that I can send her the photos I took

I'm not too keen on uploading an eight year old's photo on cyberpace
so I'll remove it in a couple of days
but this is Kevin
wearing my hat which he loved
and which later became his,
a small gift in return for a hug
and a kiss on the cheek,
one of those little things
that leave you smiling like an idiot
as the sun's warming your face...



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