Two strangers, two smiles, two unforgettable memories

Algiers Airport,

Summer 1981

One bench. Many people. Among them two mothers and two girls. Mothers speak different languages. Each girl can understand the language of her own mother. Not of the other.

One girl is me. The other is blond with big blue eyes.

She looks at me. She shrugs. And smiles.

I smile back.

She shows me what she has in her hands. It’s a small toy.

I look down at my hands and see small unused stickers of animals with moving eyes. I show them to her.

We exchange the objects in our hands. We examine them and make playful movements with them. We exchange glances. We smile.

An announcement. My mother stands up and gathers our bags.

Another announcement. My friend’s mother stands up and gathers their bags.

The blue-eyed girl and I give back our toys to each other.

We smile. We wave. We go away.

I still remember you and your smile, my dear friend of several minutes.

Copenhagen Airport,

Spring 2009

I walk through the busy hall. Small, colorful shops at my left. I pass a stall with soft drinks and snacks at my right.

Someone looks at me.

I raise my head and see a woman with dark long hair in red sari.

A friend or a relative of hers in green sari is busy searching for money in her bag.

The woman in red looks at me. And smiles.

I am confused. I feel my forehead unfolding and corners of my mouth widen into a smile.

I walk by. Still smiling.

The woman in red sari accompanies me the whole day. I see her eyes and her smile, every time she appears in my thoughts.

She still appears time to time in most unexpected moments. And then I smile.


Two strangers. Two smiles. Two unforgettable memories. They warm my heart through the years. Every time they appear. And they always appear when my smile makes other people smile.

Picture: My sweet little stranger I discover every day. “Mama, make a picture of me, when I look the other way.”