It was 4 am, late November and I was in Frankfurt Main Airport, transiting to Vienna from Melbourne. It was going to be another 6 hours before I catch my flight to Schwechat.
She came from Africa, first time in Europe, waiting for someone from her family to come get her. She had been waiting for hours. A solitary, young woman sitting on a bench, being avoided by everyone.
She had just come from a place in Africa; the name of which I cannot remember.
2 Large bundles lay at her feet and something wrapped in brown-paper snuggled in her lap. Dressed in a thin black top under flowery long wrap she looked like spring in November.
A few inches of snow was already on the ground outside and the Terminal. The heating, not supplemented by the bodies of the thousands of daytime travelers, was not coping well.
Long and skinny, short-haired and long-necked, huge eyes and a pretty smile I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
I said hello and with averted eyes she smiled shyly and murmured Hello with French accentuated English. Her smile was breathtaking!
She shuffled and tightened the wrap around her hunched shoulders, I insisted in lending her my coat. Grudgingly she accepted.
We talked of nothings and drank tepid tea from a coin-machine. She hoped to find work even though her Visa did not allow her. In cleaning or child-care she said.
Speaking in short sentences her slow English was preceded by a second or two of considered thought. Long fingers cradled her tired head, the lighter colour of her palms catching my eyes. The overhead lights lit up her hair in places making it glow. Her huge almond shaped brown eyes reflected the hundreds of lights in the ceiling. The green shards within them sparkling intermittently.
The 2 armed soldiers looked sideways at us but walked on, thinking better in disturbing our stilted conversation.
So elegant, so slow, so pretty, so beautiful can English be in the hands of one who’s life is as yet un-hurried and untainted with modernity.
It was then I noticed a fat man, a Taxi-driver, hurrying up from the entrance. He was so happy seeing her. They embraced and hardly acknowledging my presence. He must have been 30 years older than her. An uncle perhaps.
They left… her eyes looking at me once and she smiled then she was gone.
It was 7 am.
Perhaps I should have asked why she had that wedding-ring on the chain around her neck.
Perhaps I should have asked her name.