Tuesday, July 13, 2010

wisdom and watermelon

My roommate Ilgiz had his month full but still managed to speak.

“Do you know? This water-fruit is good for you” His head stooped over the kitchen table, the sound of watermelon seeds tinged against the glass plate.

“Good for...” he jabs both thumbs into each side of his lower back.
“...Kidneys” I blurted out
“Yes! Kidneys” he smiles, happy to be done so quickly with the impromptu game of charades.

I sat across the table from him. He was rarely without the right word in English. Only at times would he would erupt in Russian, whenever his grasp of English proved too restricting for complex ideas he was trying to express.

He was happy to do most of the talking and I was happy to listen, as I found his life endlessly fascinating. He told me about his family, how his grandfather was never accounted for in WWII, his thoughts on Lenin, his perception of life before and after the Soviet Union. He told me how he was first a driver for Mercy Corps before he was hired to help with procurement.

He is not a tall man but carries a formidable build. A well-groomed brown mustache matches his brown hair. Studying his face I notice a raised mole under his left eye which has probably been mistaken for a tear at least once in his life by a loved one. His smile reveals an upper row of teeth full of gold on the right, white in the front, and completely missing on the left.

His raspy voice is well suited to pronounce his hard Russian accent. When he speaks his cadence is jumpy, befitting of someone who speaks English as a second language. He has a quiet calm about him. He is a man who has worked long days his whole life. He is generous, humble and roars with laughter at the most unpredictable moments.

A warm summer breeze flows through the open window. Now almost completely in the dark, we share some laughs about how much watermelon he has eaten. His remarks bounce from profound to profoundly simple.

He pushed the large empty rind to the center of the table.

“My kidneys are healthy tonight” barely able to finish his sentence before bursting into a fit of laughter.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Just wanted you to know that we are back at home, in the land of plenty, with lots of internet time, so I am reading you blog. Keep up the good work. The photos are amazing.

PS -- I dont think my plants like the dirt so next year I am going to have to rethink their diet. Maybe I will add some watermelon rind and they will be happier.

Search This Blog