I don’t remember his name. I feel a bit terrible about it because I’ve asked him multiple times. My memory has been suffering lately, and if I don’t write things down they disappear into the monsoon. I’m not sure if it’s stress or just that I can’t spell his name. And if I can’t spell it, I won’t remember it. My memory seems to be strictly anglophonic these days, and it kills me.
He speaks English with an American accent. He’s probably my age. I don’t know how long he’s been here, but he paints like photography. The details don’t escape his brush, and I could watch him for hours.
I’m not sure why he’s here, at this special needs school. Honestly, it’s none of my business, and every time I think about it, I push the thoughts out of my head.
“So many places to go.” he says, taking out a tour book of India that someone gave him. I lean over his shoulder and flip through the bent-back pages with him, bookmarking destinations and images. Words circled and notes in the margin. He’s obviously studied this book carefully.
“So many places to go,” he says again, this time trailing off. He inhales sharply. “I’ll never see any of them.”
“Maybe you will.” I say, but I’m not sure and he knows it.
I can see the frustration building behind his eyes. No passport. No country. And some mysterious ailment that seems to hold him back, the one I’m too afraid to ask about. It’s none of my business. I don’t understand his world, and I could never pretend to.
My armchair adventurer friend, I wish I could tell you with confidence that this world you crave to see is more fair. I wish I could promise that you will travel– to Delhi, to Mumbai, to Marrakesh, and even to Los Angeles some day. I wish that your art will hang on the walls of rich Americans, and the anger will clear from your eyes, and finally I’ll know how to spell your name.