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no words

I know the way

I thought he would be taller, but as he approaches me on the metro platform I see he is actually shorter than me. His beard is long and wiry. We talk over the rumble of the trains, hands waving, leaning in to catch words. I just keep saying "quiet, simple, everything inside". He nods.

I film him on a bench at the end of the platform. The train arrives, and he does not get on. The train pulls away and he watches it go. It seems so mundane, but through the lens I see the story is working. A man who goes to the metro, and not for the first time, to watch trains coming and going but never getting on. Maybe he sits in the same bench every time. Maybe this is a significant place. 

We will never know.

Next. I shoot him on the escalators with the bright lights sweeping past his face turning it dark, then burning into his pale eyes as he looks into the distance. We chatter back and forth on the way back up, hands dancing in the air. And then we are done, and shake hands and I start home, just before eight on a Sunday morning.

I wonder who all of these people are, packed into the trains on the outskirts of the city so early on a Sunday.


In the mashrutka on the way home a woman clutches a map she has printed. She talks to the handful of other women on the little bus. They are all shaking their heads no. I glimpse the page, hear the word khram (church).

I lean towards the woman and ask where she is going. She says the name of the street  - it is the one we live on. I see the little red x on the page but it shows the church on the opposite side of the big road that leads to our home.
"There are two churches?" I ask the women around me.
I know just one.
They stare at me like flounders, with tiny round eyes on one side of their faces.
"There is one, it is from a famous painting in the museum....with sparrows." I add.
They shrug their shoulders.
The woman with the map stares at me, nervous, wanting to believe me.
"Only the foreigner knows?" She says to them, but mostly to herself.
"Just get out when I do." I tell her.
The mashrutuka lurches down the road, wobbling and leaning hard on the turns. The woman with the map tries to make the GPS in her phone work, but I see it does not. She speaks the address into the phone, nothing. The screen is blank. I raise my hand, trying to get her attention. I show her to close it, not to worry. I think she must be going to the famous little church by us.

I get out and she is like a child, nervous, lost. I wave my hand, telling her to follow me. She does.

Within a few hundred meters I point at the tiny spires behind the trees and her face lights up. I think she did not believe me until just now. She tries to tell me that today is some special day and there will be a procession. I tell her I am going to market for a procession of tomatoes, trying to make a joke but she does not follow me.
"So, you are Catholic?" She asks, completely confused.
I shake my head no, and wish her a good time.
She is smiling and excited as she almost skips down the path to the church in her old stockings and fake leather skirt.




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