I slump down in my seat after a long day that never seemed to end, rest my head on the cushioned backrest and let my tired eyelids droop for all of ten seconds. Then I hear laughter. Loud, boisterous laughter. And I instantly look up.
I see him through the bars. Gleaming, stainless steel horizontal ones that seem to slice through his face. The setting sun casts shadows that dance along his shirt. I see the sparkle in his eyes, an obvious joyous excitement in them. He’s in the midst of an animated conversation, I can sense by the grin on his face. I cannot see the boy he’s talking to, he has his back turned towards me. But I can still hear him laugh.
As I look on, he throws his head back, does a flick of his mane and winks at his friend. They break into peals of laughter again and this time unwittingly, I smile. It is infectious. And then he signs. His hands move with amazing dexterity, the expressions on his face changing with every action of his. I watch mesmerised as the friend replies with signs of his own. And suddenly the world around me fades away as I get drawn into their conversation. A perfectly normal teenage conversation playing out before me – with all the typical ingredients – friends, laughter, ribbing, recollection and some more laughter. I don’t understand most of it, there are no words and yet I hear the music.
Then his eyes meet mine through the bars and suddenly I feel like an intruder. My cheeks burn red as I struggle to look away, my smile still pasted on my face. A deer caught in the headlights. He nudges his friend and he turns to look at me too. I wonder if they will yell at me, knowing but not realising at that very minute that they unfortunately cannot do that, even if they would have wanted to. In that moment, I worry about getting chastised by two kids less than half my age; I would realize later how baseless the thought was.
And then he sends a smile my way. A heart warming one. His friend looks at me and actions a bigger grin. And I cannot help but smile back. They flick me a mock salute and wave a goodbye, grinning at me as I alight. I wave back, still smiling, feeling as if I have just been part of an inside joke between friends, one that takes away the fatigue of the day.
I walk home lost in thought, still a little in awe. I might have a hundred different problems, 99% of them imaginary, but then these are the light moments that remind me, no – humble me, and drive home the point – no matter what, life’s still alright.