Five

i.

His one thumb brushes across the palm,

The nearly-fluffy pink palm,

Tracing the outline of each stubby finger

And the faint creases in the palm

With his own forefinger.

Until the little hand decides to wake up,

And takes the liberty to wrap its fingers around his forefinger,

In all seriousness,

To say,

Don’t let go.

He won’t.

 

ii.

Better developed now,

The fingers stretch out as wide as they possibly can,

In an attempt to prove their bigness,

But the palm is still the smallest of them all.

Much easier to spot because of their size,

Than their colour –

Red, green, blue all stamped across a large white chart,

And a few traces, I suspect,

On the newly painted walls.

 

iii.

Take what you want, they say.

Reach out and grab it.

That’s a bit too intense, he thinks,

But as she sits there next to him,

Absorbed in the play they are watching,

He sees them –

Long, and tapering,

Almost bronze.

She calls her fingers ugly.

Take what you want, they say.

So he reaches out,

And takes her hand.

 

iv.

Useless, she decides.

After college, she barely physically wrote.

Typing, typing, typing –

She lost an art and gained a skill.

But she had never painted,

Never knitted,

Never did anything that required her hands.

Until now, for the first and last time,

As she sits next to the burnt pots and pans.

They finally ordered take out.

Her in-laws for God’s sake.

Of course she wanted to make a good impression.

Her hands had worked and worked –

Her thin wrist chopping,

Her rectangular fingers peeling,

And now her wide palms scrubbing.

Her mother in law tried to comfort her,

Hand rubbing back, and soft words of comfort,

“Well, for the record, the gravy was quite all right!”

She tried not show her horrified expression.

That had been the one thing she hadn’t made.

 

v.

His fingers immediately wrap around the ball just right.

The long forefinger and middle finger at the top,

And the thumb below,

The ring finger next to the thumb,

With the little finger underneath.

This hand was as well worn as the ball.

His body fell into the rhythm –

A run up, though he was a little short of breath,

And then as the pace built, so did his pulse,

Give a good swing,

Let the ball fly –

And –

And –

Six!

Ahh, well.

His fingers were pretty magical in the good old days.

And maybe those days weren’t quite over.

 

vi.

a.

Her hands are small,

Creases deep in the still-soft flesh,

The small frame fitted with wrinkled skin.

Her hands are rejuvenating,

As they work quickly and quietly,

Back and forth, back and forth,

A new child’s warmth,

And a delighted parent’s smile,

Growing out of the yarn she is knitting.

 

b.

His hands remain sturdy,

His grip still firm and steady –

Unlike his gait.

These hands have begged,

Prayed, counted beads,

Drawn, shaped, plotted,

Held littler ones,

Shaped paper into structures that cannot be imagined until they are seen,

And they now hold a walking stick.

But these do not matter when we point out that his handshake is firm,

“Of course, of course,” he assures us.

“It is the strength of a handshake that marks the strength of a man.”

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Gestures

He waves at me.

I wave back.

He raises his eyebrows when I’m looking at him, and I shake my head before sighing.

He gives a small smile and nods.

I point at my bare wrist while looking at him.

He looks down and up again, his eyes wide. 20 he signals, making a 2 and a 0 with his fingers.

I face palm and look back outside to see him chuckle.

I smile back and he raises his eyebrows again.

I shake my head before frowning back at him, jerking my head to where he was standing.

I bring my hand up, my fist curled, my thumb pointed upwards.

Late he mouths, and then he winks.

I stick my tongue out at him, before rolling my eyes.

He looks at me and then at my book, pointing at it, and then the board.

My eyes turn to slits and I just stare at him, my mouth narrow.

He smirks, and then raises both his hands up, his fingers stretching backwards, his palms facing me.

I turn back to look at the teacher.

He raps against the window. Again, and again.

He does it one more time, before I turn around, my fingers once again raised up, my eyes wide.

His shoulders drop down, his arms hanging loose, his bottom lip sticking out.

I continue to look at him as he sighs, moving his head from side to side, up and down. He swings his arms aimlessly, rotates and then looks back at me.

I bite to hide my laughter.

He points at me and then in his direction.

I frown and shake my head, before turning back to look at the teacher.

Who is looking right at me.

“Get out of class if you keep doing this stupid sign language!” She shouts.

I don’t notice his victorious smile.