Urban sketch 2

In the library I see an old man sitting at a table and a large dictionary. I stand behind him to pick up a newspaper that includes New York Times articles I want to read because of the recent hydrogen bomb test in the North. The man greets me and asks what ‘rags-to-riches’ means. I explain it to him and look up a Korean translation and suggest he installs the dictionary app on his phone himself. Thank you. I look at his leathery but smooth skin and quivering eyes. We do study group he says and I should join. Helping the older Korean generation who had performed the economic miracle that transformed this country sounded good to me so I said yeah and asked him to write down the address. Why had I ignored the topic of what he was reading? There was Jesus and Hallelujah written all over it. It was no English class. I had signed up for Bible study, dammit. The man handed me the piece of paper I had given him with the address of the church written on it and told me see you on Sunday. I might have other obligations I wanted to say but that sentence didn’t render well in basic Korean. Leaving the library I saw the man again standing in the bathroom washing his face. Bye I said and he rushed out pursuing me with a dripping face. What do you do? he asked. I write I say, and I have to do it now.

Urban sketch 2 was originally published on Meandering home

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