My first job was to keep an eye on several monitors. They were attached to elderly woman who meandered between life and death while her children meandered between her and their father who insisted to finish his days at home. So for the mother they had hired two nurses from new arrivals, with the sole purpose someone to be there continuously to monitor whether the official medical personnel treats Mom with due respect and competence. The pay was minimal, but there was no work either, except every few minutes to check the numbers on the little screens. I read a library before the green line went straight and all children aged around sixty lined up to shake my hand and thank me. To this day I keep in my prayers these dear people. For every parent is commendable to have such children, even when one cannot feel it any more. Or maybe just then it is most important.
You Scream in Your First Language, or the Knowledge of the Mother Tongue
Children, those flowers of life that like a greater dodder have caught us tight and do not let us breathe - they are such an easy way to overcome the primordial isolation of immigration. The little one is sitting grimly at the windowsill and is watching her little neighbours happily splashing in something that in other countries and among other peoples would have passed for a medium-sized tub. In the eyes of the little solitude the tub is growing and growing, its plastic fish are almost real whales of natural size, the water basin is roughly as big as the Mediterranean, although the three young men and the older sister of two of them can fit in it only in shifts. It is summer which according to the local concepts is blistering hot (where the little observer comes from, this is winter temperature). On the horizon appears a cake! With candles! There are hats, triangular-clown hats that come in sets with some loud whistles! The young maiden is sitting at the window on the first floor just across! She does not notice some whispers among elder neighbors at the fire escape, does not hear someone ringing the front door bell and discussing something with her parents in a language she does not know yet. But mom is ironing her best dress, although what she would do in this dress in the pool; tomorrow they will go for swimsuit and for now the shorts shall do. And the cake is guaranteed kosher, halal, no peanuts, no nuts, no gluten , what is actually in this cake, and why it seems the most delicious cake ever? Mom translation is something lame, and how it would not be lame, when the other moms also interact mainly with gestures as they actually do not have a common language. Well, here comes one father and in Spanish-English-French enlightens the group that the Québécois pure laine from the second floor has managed to convince the Pakistani auntie from the third floor to not meddle with the children having fun.
Such friendships are the most re