Friday, March 23, 2012



She came at the end of the class and the day, and handed me the book I’d given her soon after the start of the term, almost seven months ago.

“But why?” I asked.

“I'm going to New Orleans.” she said—this quiet girl, who had worked these months without complaint—or even word.

Her voice was shaking and her eyes had tears.

“How long, Lan Fang,” I asked, “have you been here?”

“Two years.” she said.

Two years: a language, barely learned; a refuge, here at school, in this far land; a friend or two, perhaps—by chance or earned through effort; and progress—halting, slow—with books like the one that she now was dutifully returning.

How many nights were spent upon that book, deciphering the blur of foreign words?  How few— yet precious—her new friends and teachers...

And now, she would lose them, as she had lost the ones before.

How could I take that book?  Yet take it, I must.

I opened the book and saw another's name, whose visage floated up—a student gone and yet remembered, as a teacher does...

I shook my head and sighed.

 “Your parents too?” I asked.  She nodded yes.

“That’s good.” I said.  “I too will be with you.”

She stood quietly.

“Will you be here on Monday?”

 “No.” she said, and now more tears welled up.  Her voice was faint.

I searched and gave her tissues.  She took one, returned the other, bowed her head and left.

I strode towards the door and called, “Do write!  And let me know.  I will write, for you, a recommendation, when you’re needing one.”
She looked at me and slowly walked away.
Babui / Arjun
2012  March 23rd, Friday
(changed to prose form on 2015 Dec. 14th, Mon.)
Please see also:  Departure-II

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