I was in front of the Time Warner Center in midtown Manhattan waiting for my pen pal, Nina. She was twenty-three years old, and from East India. This was our first encounter after four years of communicating via e-mail. I was so overwhelmed with anxiety that I kept on looking at my watch as if was about to explode.
Finally, Nina walked around the corner and she looked the same as the picture I saw on the computer. Nina was a nice looking Indian woman with a nice slim and athletic physique. She had a nice flawless coffee-brown skin tone. Her long straight hair was sunny auburn. What I admired most about Nina was her emerald eyes. They sparkled like uncut diamonds. Not to see her wearing her traditional Indian clothing, but dressed in tight jeans and a black jacket looking so Americanize surprised me.
“Hey, Nina, how are you?” I asked.
“Hi.” She replied so softly. “It’s so nice to see you.”
“After all these years, I’m finally meeting you.” I said so excitedly.
“Yes, you are.” Nina smiled. “I love your city!”
“Yeah, everything is here, baby. Come on; let’s explore the wonderful city of New York.”
Nina and I went to a pizzeria on the Upper West Side. As we consumed the pizza, we engaged in a stimulating conversation about family, career, and culture. I found her easy to talk too. Her knowledge of horticulture and landscaping impressed me. She loved gardening as much as I do. Nina informed me that her mother had a garden back in India where she planted fruits and vegetables for the family.
As the evening progressed, we wound up at a hip-hop club for entertainment. Nina was really enjoying herself in this setting. She swung her head and hair around when the band did their renditions of some of rap’s classic tunes.
When we returned to my house, I thought we would make out a little in the living room, but my older sister and her friends were there watching the movie Friday. I was somewhat angry because I did not want to take Nina to my bedroom since the air conditioner was not working properly.
“Well, I preferred we go to your garden, if that’s okay with you.” She suggested.
“Fine, let’s do that.” I agreed. “It’s still nice out.”
I took Nina by her well-manicured silky hand and led her out the screen door down the steps into the pleasant night air. She wanted to come to the garden and talk more freely. While holding hands, we walked around the garden slowly. The moonlight gave off the right amount of light and ambiance in the garden for Nina to see all the roses, cherry blossoms, and orchids.
“Back in India, I love spending time in the garden with my mother.” Nina expressed. “I had fun watering the plants and planting new fruits. Mangoes were always my favorite.”
“Mangoes are good.”
“Yes, mango is the king of all fruits in India.” Nina said. “Everybody loves eating mangoes in the summer. My mother made a lot of money selling mangoes to our neighbors and tourists.”
“I love your mother’s hustle, are you sure she’s not from Harlem?” I joked.
“What? No.” Nina laughed. “If she was, I’ll be more hip like you.”
We sat at my round table and started playing a game of one-on-one spades. Nina was full of surprises because I did not think she was much of a card player or that she knew how to play spades. Nina play spades like the urban girls from my old Harlem neighborhood. Our games were very intense, and it felt like we were in a heavyweight championship fight. I did not realize we were in the garden for hours until I saw the sunrise. It felt like my garden came to life. My garden was now full of various colors like blue, red, pink, and white. My flowers were up and the scent was so intoxicating and fresh that it felt like it cleansed the air and my soul at the same time. Nina and I stopped playing cards and were in a trance watching the beauty of nature. We did not say a word; we just found pure comfort and solace listening to the birds sing. Then we gazed longingly at each other and started laughing. The sunrise was bringing such joy to the birds, my garden, and us.
“I can’t believe we were out here for hours.” I announced.
“I think we should go inside and get some sleep.” Nina said.
“Yes, I am weary and I think a mosquito bit me on my neck.”
We left the table and headed for the door. Before I walked inside the house, I took a moment to marvel God’s wonderful creation — the sunrise.
By Shamarie Knight, 7th Jul 2014 |