The day was made for a walk in the park. Uri was glad to be in the park with Mara. Until he saw the old lady on the bench. He could feel himself losing control.
“Oh no,” gasped Uri and immediately began to cry. “I did not ever think I would see this again.”
Uri tried to hide his dismay, his shame that just seeing an old woman knitting a Latvian pattern made him so homesick for his country. I am happy here, he said to himself, I should not always look backwards to places I cannot go.
“Uri?”, questioned Mara. “What’s wrong? Why are you upset? Did I say something?”
“No,” the word came out as almost a whine. “I am fine. I will be okay. But we must keep walking.
Uri felt that he could not bear to stop and speak to the lady on the bench. What if she reminded him of his mother or aunts or grandmother? How could he just start speaking to a complete stranger only because she was knitting a pattern he recognized from his home country? How would that make him look? I love Mara, and I don’t want her to think I am weak, he reminds himself. I must be strong.
Mara looks at him with fear in her eyes. She doesn’t really know this tall, handsome man all that well. There is a part of himself he keeps hidden, thinks Mara. I don’t know all that I would like to know about him. I fear making a commitment to him without first knowing what is so awful that he must hide it from me. I do care so much about him though, she thinks.
The old lady on the bench looks up at the young couple. I was young once, she thinks. I know what it’s like to walk in the park with a new love. They are sweet. But there’s something wrong with the young man. Whatever can be making him so sad? Maybe I’ll ask him, maybe I shouldn’t. It won’t hurt.
Her words release a torrent of happy words from Uri.
“Good day, madam. I am so happy to make your acquaintance! It is such a pleasure to speak my own language after so many months. Do you mind if we sit with you for a while?”
“Please,” she answers and smiles, patting the bench with her free hand. “We can talk as much as you want.”
The three of them smile at each other. It is a lovely day to be in a park.