Sadaf entered Lara’s room with two cups of coffee.
“I’m wasted, Sadaf. Both Japan and China were too much in one day. Look at my eyes!”
She made her eyes slant.
“Hahaha, Lara! Try as you like, you can’t make yourself look Asian without making those huge eyes smaller. I know the Japanese garden is nice, but what’s up with China Town?”
Lara answered without thinking: “Myself! Do you know, I’m an alien in this city, and so is China Town. But we are both world citizens.”
“Feeling like a stranger makes you feel better? How?”
“Yes, I don’t feel so alone!”
“Right, but there are lots of foreign people living in this city. Look at me, I’m originally Pakistani.”
She sucked her lips into her mouth. She always did this; it was a nervous twitch. Once Lara had thought she did this because she was ashamed of what she had said and thought she probably shouldn’t keep speaking.
Lara pulled Sadaf’s ponytail.
“That’s why I’m staying with you, to feel my difference more.”
Sadaf was used to Lara’s jokes, but still she screamed.
“Oh, don’t!” Sadaf sat beside Lara and prepared to ask her something. “Why do you feel better by being different, foreign and—what did you call it? —a loner?”
“It doesn’t make me feel better, Sadaf, but it makes me more me. Think about it: I came here from overseas. I’m far away from my country, yet close to me. You can’t see what’s very close to your eyes, right?”
Sadaf tried to look as though she understood.
“Can you see a beautiful painting when you put your face against it? It’s like that. Getting away from myself made me closer to me. Never mind, I’m feeling deep and talking nonsense.”
Sadaf felt sorry for Lara, then realized she was late. While Lara was putting the dishes from the night before into the dishwasher, Sadaf prepared to leave the house.
“Don’t be sad, Lara, I’ll pray for you!”
“Thanks,” Lara said and came to the door with the towel in her hand. “Take care”
Lara closed the door. She realized that she hadn’t prayed for a long time, or maybe the time felt longer because she didn’t pray. She had lots of reasons to pray, but she had just given up. She needed to go and apologize by praying.
She put on some music, needing an outside sound or she would have had to listen to her conscience. It was talking to her, but she decided to turn a deaf ear.