Ode to Allan R

Another perfect day.

A great day for madcap rehearsals for the massive community theatre show. But was it the power or the water utility responsible? I don’t remember, and the people i’d ask are either dead or otherwise out of touch. Anyway, the town had no water.

No water is no big deal as far as drinking goes, when you buy potable water by the carafe, delivered weekly. It’s just washing and day to day household things that become a strain. But the town next door had water, so at rehearsal, those of us without were invited by those who had, to come use their service.

I got picked by Norine, one of those calmly lovely middle aged women who are the backbone of social endeavour. After rehearsal, she drove me to her home. We passed through the gates into the garden, a verdant oasis, complete with kidney shaped pool, cool and blue, glimmering in the leafy shade. Norine showed me the lux towels and robe her staff had laid out for me, and bade me use their facilities. Please feel free to swim, too, she said. As she was organizing me, a tall man hove quietly into the verandah, waiting with a kind of radiant expectation for the right moment to be introduced.

Yes, he nodded, he was a diplomatic official, but Norine was the power. She was the one who knew how to get things done, he said proudly, “but,” he added with a deeply layered smile, “most people just call me ‘that fatuous fathead.'”

It seems Allan noticed and cared that, along the walls of their estate, entire families built shacks or corrugate and refuse. It seems he felt uncomfortable, too, with the splendour of his living arrangements. He waved a hand around and said, please, please use the space. He didn’t know I was an Indian – though i didn’t hide it there, either, it’s not the first thing people think when they see me. He did recognize me, though, as I did him, as someone who couldn’t not notice. And in naming himself, i felt he named and welcomed me, too.

So much conveyed in a look, a phrase, a shift of the body so as not too take up too much space.

Thanks for that, Allan, though we never met again.

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