Conversations with strangers – Bus stop conversations

bus stopOut before 12:00 on a Saturday for grocery shopping? That is a surprise. I check the digital display at the bus stop as I cross the road and there are seven minutes for the bus to come. Not bad! I can wait seven minutes. Unusually so, there is another person waiting at the bus stop. An old lady!

I walk across the road and smile at her. I have my headphones on, music loud enough just for me to hear but drain out all noise from the outside world. it helps me to get lost in my own world. most of the time I am not listening to the music but letting my mind roam using music as an excuse!

She says,”sette minuti”  (seven minutes). I nod my head smile and say “Si” (Yes) without taking the headphones off. I walk up and down impatiently. Somehow I cannot stand in one place at the bus stop, train station or the airport. I need to walk while I wait. I see the bus go in the opposite direction and I know that is the bus that is going to come back in a few minutes.

She says the same thing. She points to the bus and says in Italian that this is the bus that is going to come back. I nod my head and smile and say “Si” (Yes) again. She realises that I do not speak Italian and now she asks me “You don’t know Italian don’t you”.

I realise she wants to talk to someone, so I remove my headphones at this stage. Another nod, smile and I reply to her in half Italian and half English that I understand Italian a bit but do not speak Italian. “Ah Capito” (Ah I understand) she says.

The conversation continues in Italian from her side and English and a little bit of Italian from my side. She asks me how long I have been here and I go overboard using my hands (as though that is going to take care of my lack of Italian) and say “un anno” (a year). She smiles and nods this time. I tell her I will be leaving the place in “sei mesi” (six months) so it is ok, as though I was justifying myself for my lack of Italian knowledge. She had a smile on her face. She said “Maybe it is not important, not exactly important  but I guess you can manage with your language so you don’t have to push yourself to do what you cannot do” (All this was said in Italian).

I nodded to show that I understood what she said I agreed to it.

She asked me where I was from. I said India and she went “Oh, the colour of the skin, I should have known” (All in Italian again)

“What are you doing here?”

“My marito (husband) works for this company there”, I show her his office. She nods her head.

She tells me then that she came to the “cimitero” (cemetery). I feel sorry for her, she must have lost someone in the recent past. I don’t know how to show her I feel sorry. She continues “mio marito” (my husband) and I can see she is choking. The poor woman. She tells me that she was married to him for “cinquanta quattro anni” (54 years) and that he passed away two years ago.

I ask her if she has grandchildren, I do not know what is the Italian equivalent, but I did manage to communicate and she said she has two kids and they have children, but they are all busy with their own lives.

She says, “people say you will forget in three months and six months, but I cannot. I come here every week to see him.” I want to give her a hug, but do not know how she will react to it. At least a pat on the hand but just nodded my head and I said I am sorry for your loss. I could feel her pain. When you live with someone for so long I suppose you can never get over it.

Just as this happened the bus arrived. I got into my usual front seat and she went back after she said  “Arrivederci” (Goodbye)

The headphones went back on, the music started to play and the mind started to wander, there was something more to think for me today!

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