[from the unpublished vault, summer 2012]
She tells me to talk about something, and I mumble the first thing that comes to mind; a few mildly directionless sentences about going to India. If my voice is a little high-pitched, it’s only because there’s a needle in my right arm and my eyelid is twitching. (If you’ve never heard a high-pitched mumble, you’ve never seen me with a needle in my arm.)
“Where are you from?” I ask the lab technician.
“Afghanistan,” she says, and repeats it. “Afghanistan. A neighbor to India.” She pauses. “Do you speak Hindi?”
“No, I haven’t had the chance. They speak Tamil where I’m going.”
“I learned Hindi from Bollywood movies.”
“You did?” Partly gritted teeth become a broad smile. “I love Bollywood actresses. Such beautiful eyes. Who’s your favorite?”
She grins. “Aishwarya Rai.”
“Mine too!,” I exclaim with enough enthusiasm to alert the entire hall, partly because I love Ash, partly because the needle’s out of my arm.
I thank her and leave and I suppose I’m all right with trading a test sample of blood for a good chat.