Friday, February 29, 2008

I, who am your friend, will help you

The man sitting beside me on this morning's bus holds a small notepad; it fits in the palm of his hand. I glance away from my book to read what's written: English phrases, followed by Asian characters.

"Yes, I should like to come over."

"What time would suit you for my coming?"

The English is beautiful and formal, strangely contorted into correctness. Me and my dangling participles feel loose and jangly beside him.

The man looks like a character from a Kurosawa movie. Long, lined face. The honest farmer whose family has been brutalized. The salaryman who yearns for the forbidden. I peek to see more of the useful phrases he is learning.

"Do not bother yourself," his notepad reassures, "I, who am your friend, will help you."

This fills me with warmth, and gratitude. If he were my friend, and I was in need, I am sure he would help.