“Just a second.”
I was still between that half-life that is sleep and wakefulness.
Through my half-lidded eyes I saw shadows moving up and down. At the end of the bed.
To the same rhythm as the noise.
Through my half-opened eyes, I sat up. And saw him.
Dark framed in a shimmering light.
Ragged, torn, dirty clothes. Emaciated face. Swelling belly.
I’m watching a televised famine. Biafra.
The shadow is holding an empty metal plate. Banging a metal spoon.Bang-Bang.
“Hey”, I said. “I’m here.”
I fall out of bed, stumble half asleep towards him. I wave my hands. In front of his thin grey stick face. Which is all eyes.
“Stop,” I said.
I lean down and grab the spoon.
And I miss. My hand went right through his.
And it was then my blood turned to ice.
He looked up. His eyes said it all.
“Are you hungry?” I asked.
No response. No reaction.
I motioned. Hand to mouth.
A silver lined nod.
I understand now. Not was he starving but he’s a deaf mute.
So I mimed picking up his spoon. And feeding him.
And I never thought this was possible. But I saw wet tears in his eyes.
And a slow building light filled them as he met mine.
I led him to the kitchen.
Opened the fridge, motioned to the food and said, “you don’t need to be hungry anymore.” I still remember the smile before he disappeared.