A few times, when I’ve been working at the inn next door around noontime, I’ve gotten a chance to sit down around the kitchen table with a few of the inn’s employees. All native Arabic-speakers, they chatter rapidly among themselves, gossiping about mutual acquaintances and family events. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s the general drift of the conversation. Every few minutes they stop, make eye contact with me, and laugh. I laugh with them, sure they can hear my brain huffing and puffing to catch up to the end of the last sentence. I discover that Ameer from Nazareth and Marwa from Cana like to pick on each other because of their different accents. Cana is a ten minute bus ride away. They have different words for spoon.
Will I ever learn this language?
Lunchtime, though convivial and full of laughter, has become a very humbling part of my day.