'Hantale', I say timidly.
'Er... I mean, thank you.'
Wrong again. One of my own would reply "Gi nathlam hi". You are welcome here.
Well, what were the odds?
I feel I am welcome nevertheless, as I enter. I start this snowy but warm Tuesday at Clébard with lemonade and some nondescript rock music. The barmaid is busy squeezing fruit juice for cocktails, so citrus scents dominate the place. The lights are subdued - semidarkness and shadows, and multicolored Christmas lanterns to underline them. Lovely.
A couple is having dinner and chatting at a nearby table, and I am observing them. Young, beautiful, busy. Carefree, but this impression is carefully cultivated, not inherent. They speak French, and I envy them. They speak the same language.
Jay brings me my poison - coffee - and I am enjoying the sugar-spiked fragrant liquid, the emptiness and the coolness of the place. I love the cold... as for emptiness, sometimes it penetrates so deep into my heart I am not sure it is a heart any longer. Yet for the next several hours, I will be home. Ma'weya, ts'muken*, I say to myself.
*"Peace, sister" in Na'vi.