Urdu

It was a long taxi ride across Hamilton in the rain. The driver didn't talk and neither did I. We listened together to the radio.

I didn't understand what I was hearing, but I love to listen to other languages -- the cadence, the pitch, the mystery.

"That's Urdu," he offered. "I speak four languages. That is one."

I expressed admiration; who wouldn't? "I speak only one and a half," I told him.

The windshield wipers hissed. His eyes, in the rear-view mirror, looked exhausted. He said something to the effect that it was different for him and I winced. My French lessons... his repeated displacements, which he had only to hint at.

"You don't know four languages," he nodded, "because you don't have to."