She was looking for a sheet.

I complained that I bought a bedsheet for her and she didn’t need to buy one. Maybe I was hurt. I didn’t think about it at the time. I ought to have. I said, “What is wrong with you?” This doesn’t have the same ring in Country X as it does in the States. No one has ever shamed C with that phrase. The shaming phrase here is, “Why?” “Why are you looking for a bedsheet?”

I hope.

Because it was a terrible thing to say to her and stupid that I let that come out. I meant it though. “Why can’t you just come and get the freaking bedsheet I bought for you? Why is it so difficult for you to come to me?”

She made an excuse about time. I said you have to walk by my house to get back to the hostel. It will not take more time to come to my house than to walk around the shops searching for a bedsheet.

What is wrong with me that I can’t understand? I know perfectly well why it is hard for her. She thinks I will scold her for not taking it in the beginning and only asking for it later. I won’t, but someone else would. It wouldn’t be about time. It would be about her assumption I would not understand her reassessment of her own needs.

She really, really does not get that I just want to take care of her. I do not expect her to be perfect. I don’t expect her to know she ought to have taken an extra bedsheet to school. She has no idea I think human beings are important and bedsheets minor matters.

And it really just makes me so sad. Just so sad.

She went to buy underwear. She was making the transaction and I gave her money. She said, “No, I don’t want,” as she always does. I held it out and just looked at her and she took it. I don’t know what she feels in those moments. I know what I feel when she hands me something I have refused and she just looks at me. Maybe she feels the same thing. I feel the intensity of her love for me. I feel her sincerity. I don’t know what I feel in response to the feelings I sense in her at those moments, a kind of sadness.

We looked at the rest of the shops. She was looking at shoes. I didn’t know she needed shoes, but it seems she did. Or wanted them. I thought she had shoes, but maybe the shoes I saw her in last belonged to someone else and went to Timbuktu without her.

She didn’t buy anything else and we went on to my house to get the bedsheet. It is so hard to say the things about what happened on the way there, walking around the bazaar. I touched her a lot at first, and later she went racing ahead. Her friend kept saying “Wait for Madam.”

The thing is I felt like furniture again.

It was wonderful. It was really and truly wonderful. I felt like she thought I was safe, that she was safe. I didn’t feel she was in Detached mode. I didn’t feel rejected, which Detached mode does feel like. I felt she didn’t need to reach for me, because I was there. She knew I was there. I had loved on her when I first saw her, after asking her what was wrong with her. I put my arm around her. I stroked her hair. She might have felt ashamed when I complained about not taking the sheet from my house, but then I loved on her, and she felt safe again.

It made me think how when I was small the people who loved me never felt I was safe. I was never furniture to them, a child who ought to be watched, but maybe not so vigilantly. I was not safe. They knew I was not safe, and I knew I was not safe.

But C knows I am safe.

A lot hit me later, as I am sure a lot hit her later.

But I have to go substitute a class now.

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