Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

He was going to be late, although he hadn't sounded at all apologetic on the phone. I'd gathered from his broken, heavily accented Polish that he had made it as far as the tram stop. Fifteen more minutes. I'd compensated for his despondency with bright fake cheer. No problem! See you when you get here!

Maybe going through with this hadn't been such a good idea.

The over-familiar text messages and flirty invitations had needed a firm response, but maybe I'd overdone it a bit. The text messages had definitely stopped. Well, he was coming for the interview and that was the main thing.

My interpreter arrived and cheered me up with stories of awkward dinners and late night drinking. She was hungover, but would provide me vital moral, and linguistic, support.

When he arrived I was all businesslike bustle, setting up the sound recorder and explaining how it would work. He was hesitant to begin with and kept trying to catch my eye, testing the water, seeing where we stood. I smiled, safe in the company of others, and he soon relaxed, chatting freely, the incomprehensible words washing over me, making me realise it was not such a big deal after all.

The unfamiliar tongue was punctured with understandable emotions. He told his story, banging his fist with emphasis, flicking his eyes at me sheepishly when talking about his wife and children. I watched the dialogue unfold, her questions, his answers. Her intonation and expression gave away her shock, and the way he leaned forward and creased his forehead showed the truth of his words. I watched as she questioned, wide-eyed and not wanting to believe. He raised his voice to make a point and she slowly shook her head.

The list of questions exhausted, he signed his consent form, handing everything over to me and my project.


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