Writing. Culture. Politics. Wandering.
I met a man once. On my way from daily work, taking a moment sitting on a bench outside my Alma Mater. Enjoying a brief silence, barely noticing him until he spoke. A simple greeting comment, as if passing by. But as he said it, brief words carried weight which most rarely do. Acknowledging his presence with a thinking silence, I realised we were making conversation in spite of those few words. Looking out across the water, searching trees and the sky above, I finally replied. A puzzled statement, one with questions hidden in my tone. I could not help but embrace this man’s words as I would prefer others to engage my own.
I realised it was both words and voice that struck a cord. I knew them both. I had known them both. Softly breaking silence he finally remarked on his relief, his thanks for being noticed, he had wondered whether he had moved on too far. I knew the man, albeit not as anyone might expect. I had lost this man, very early in my life. A teacher, not one like most, a man who gave us stories as if they were his own. Tales of people’ living, their individual perspectives, pure empathy and vision in a barren sea of textbook reading. A teacher who had left us, moving sideways in our human history, before we moved forward in creation of our own.
I remembered I had met him, later on in life. However briefly, we exchanged nods and continued towards our destinations. All too briefly, recognising the teacher and the man, oh so very much the same. I remember thinking of his stories, our human nature present in them all. I had missed him, met him briefly and as I travelled on I forgot to miss him further.
But sitting there, exchanging quiet words of meaning and perspective, I realised how very much this man was still the same. I am older, perhaps indeed as he said a little wiser, so much older than this man today. We had an understanding, an empathy we shared. We told a story, one of laughter. In another we exchanged a bit of pain. He was still a teacher, shaping minds and their perspectives, as he had done with me back in the day.
I thanked him for his lessons, and offered to share his pain. He declined politely, there must be limits to the sharing, preferring other people’s laughter to his own private pain. I understood the honesty of words hidden between his lines. And I accepted, leaving him that choice.
As he left he left me thinking, with a gift of aging paper, a story of his own, I decided to miss that man, this teacher. I wonder where’ he has gone. I sit here in bemusement, of irony and introspection. As a man I am a teacher. My stories are my own.
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