They were at the lift of the building. The first time the boy got on the lift was at a nearby building. The boy was so captivated as he stood close to Advay without touching anything. His eyes had looked in all directions. Subsequently in their house hunt, they got on a few more lifts.
Advay was watching the boy’s face again this time. This could become his new passtime—to watch the reactions of a boy for whom everything was new.
The boy turned his eyes to Advay. Then he turned to the lift and pressed the button. A red glow started flashing around the button and he looked back to Advay. A sense of accomplishment clear on his face.
Advay nodded at him, “Good. At least, you can learn fast.”
Seeing no response from him, He smiled at the boy, who smiled back at him quickly.
Once inside the apartment, He set the food on the teapoy in the living room. “Go wash and let’s eat.”
Seeing the boy stare at him, he quickly pointed to the bathroom, “Wash.”
The boy walked in that direction and went into the bathroom. Advay felt relieved and comforted. It was not that difficult to deal with this boy, he thought.
Advay was famished and when he saw the boy walk out of the bathroom, he quickly went in and readied himself for the meal. He came out with a wet face and searched for a towel. There was nothing he could use.
As he walked around he caught the boy jumping. Amused, he raised his brows.
The boy quickly lifted his shirt and wiped dry his face.
The boy’s shirt was slightly damp, however. Advay laughed out at him. He wiped his face with the long sleeves of his shirt.
Seeing that, the boy smiled, satisfied.
‘This kid is so silly,’ Advay laughed and lamented at the same time within himself. Of course, he did not need the boy to tell him. He was just searching for a better alternative. But in the end, he decided to appreciate the boy’s concern.
The two sat on the sofa and dug into the food.
As the food in the boxes reduced, the two boys were in their own worlds.
‘What should I do with him? If I go back to the university now, what will he eat in the morning?’ Advay was stressed out. He could rent the house for the boy for a considerable time. Until this point he had not used the finances accumulated in his bank account since he joined the Force.
‘Those questions aside, what if the orphanage finds him? What will become of him then? He does not know how to cry out for god's sake!
‘For this boy to take care of himself and be safe, first he had to know how to communicate. All he did was imitate and point. It was too vague for anyone to understand or for himself to convey anything. This just can’t go on for long.
‘I’ll get him books and let him learn words. Taking him out to a sign language school won’t yield any good. One, it is a big risk and involves the boy’s safety. Two, His identity would be called upon. No school would teach just anyone. If the worst is true and the government here had a hand in this, then both he and I will be at risk.’
Advay finally had some clarity. That was it then, he was going to get some Eastern language books of the very initial level.
But the big question still remained. How could he leave the boy here and go? Forget about leaving, the boy would not allow him to step a foot outside. He had just had an experience.
“What should I do with you, huh? What should I do with myself, huh?” Advay looked at the boy as he finished his box.
“...” But peculiarly this time, the boy did not even give any kind of acknowledgment to his words. Instead, he slightly moved his head to the other side.
“Oi, I’m talking to you!”
The boy’s shoulders gently quivered without any sound.
Then he rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand before slowly turning to Advay with red eyes.
“Oi, why are you crying?” Advay put his palm on his shoulder asking gently.
The boy then cried out. He hick-uped and snuffled.
The boy recollected many memories as he ate. Each one of them was a happy image, far away from him. Each one had sounds, which he knew were not noises, which were words he could not understand. He was always alienated.
All of the images were of the different times and spaces within the orphanage. They were of the different little children who went away and came into the orphanage. There were very few times, with aeons in between, when someone spoke to him. Everytime, he would feel happy. Then disappointment would come, then self-contempt. He could not understand them nor let them know anything.
Other than those extremely fortunate times, he only heard words in the background and often they were superposed with other words or sounds, diffusing the words into a blur.
There was a time when he had seen a mute girl come to the orphanage. She also could not speak, but her parents who came along with her had supported her very proudly. The person was herself fearless though she was mute.
On the other hand was him. Sometimes his desperation had led to self-harm albeit minor. Later the in-charge had even scared him against those actions. He had been just a 9 year-old then.
Memories and psychological damages stayed with the person for the longest time if they were caused in childhood. The boy was no different. Since then, he felt inferior and shameful with everyone.
As he grew up, the boy started to think to the day when he would not be the way he is. Those thoughts had been his escape. Those thoughts slowly turned into hope. Someday, he would become like everyone to whom everyone else smiled.
Then, this face came into his life. He spoke to him. He smiled at him. And most importantly, he still did those knowing he was a mute.
Through all his time in the orphanage, meaningful sounds were kept away from him. Therefore, he had a struggle remembering words; it was just out of his sphere.
He still somehow learned the name of this face. This person was called Advay. He had stored the garbage to throw out when Advay came in and then in-charge greeted him by name. He heard her. He had spilled water and mopped the floor near the reception when he had seen Advay walk in through the gates and the in-charge greeted him by name again. He heard her again.
To him the hello and hi felt familiar nonetheless, and so he deduced the person’s name. Every time he heard the word, he tried to remember. After a good number of such attempts, the world became familiar to him. He tried until his head ached to reproduce the same sound in his mind. It was not long before he learned the name. It was the only word he could recognize too.
Above all else, this was the first time he was eating with someone.
Advay put an arm around the boy’s shoulders comforting him. He might not know how to deal with a mute and equivalently deaf person, but he knew how to comfort people.
“You’ll choke if you eat like this. Stop crying.”
When the boy heard him, he reduced his whimpers and inhaled deeply and slowly ate the rest of his food.
Advay opened the small cake boxes. Sweet smell drifted to him. He liked sweets just as much as anyone else. The boy would also be tempted and eat faster, he thought. But the boy was still lost.
He did not wait for him and started eating his cake. “What should I do?” He said again.
“Shit! I should tell my dad!” He softly cursed and pulled out his phone. How could he forget such an important thing.
“Son? Here already?” Well, had he not picked the boy up, he would have been home by the next hour.
“Dad… I’m not coming anymore.”
“Something came up.”
“Tell your mother. I’m hanging up.” Huh, his father was not helping him this time.
And the call cut.
He then called his mother’s phone. “Mom. I am not coming home this vacation! Bye!” He quickly cut the call.
For the next hour, he put his phone on silent. He got many calls, all from his father. If he took the call, he would be scolded for not explaining enough to his mother.
Beside him, the boy finished the food and started eating his cake.
An hour passed without either of them doing anything. Advay had to go and get his clothes and other necessities. The university was half an hour away and he had already packed his luggage. On the way he also had to buy some things for the boy. The boy had run out without taking anything he might need.
Advay took the lock the house owner had given them. He took in a deep breath and said to the boy, "I will go and get toothbrushes, soaps and clothes, okay?"
As he spoke word by word, his right pointing finger was at work.
The next moment the boy looked scared but he nodded nonetheless. Perhaps because Advay had just eaten with him, he had a feeling he was not going to leave.
"I will lock the door from outside and come back quickly, okay?"
He asked word by word again as he waved the lock.
The boy then nodded with some relief. He knew how locks worked. He also deduced that it meant Advay would come back.
Advay waved at him and went out.
He went back to the apartment two hours later. It was pretty late. In addition to the luggage he packed, he took all the blankets and bedsheets on his shelves. On the way he had bought some clothes for the boy too. He bought necessary toiletries and a pair of sandals.
The boy had been walking barefoot as if the hard and bumpy ground didn't bother him whenever he got down the cycle. The heated roads also didn't matter to him. But dirt bothered him. He had tried to rub his feet together at every chance he got.
He opened the lock and the boy was still sitting the way he had been when Advay left. His vigilant eyes soon reflected relief.
"Today was so tiring. Let's sleep."
Advay spoke like he spoke to anyone else.
When Advay went into the bedroom, the boy also followed him.
The two lied down on the bed and the boy turned and soon slipped into slumber.
It was not summer yet and the dawn would be terrible without a blanket.
Seeing the boy curl up almost into a perfect circle, Advay woke him up and put a blanket on top of his form.
When the boy opened his eyes Advay pointed to the blanket as he kicked open his own. The boy followed after him.
In the morning Advay woke up at his usual time. The boy was also up and stood on their balcony.
"Looking for food?" Advay laughed. He was sure that the boy must be looking at the food stall.
The boy also laughed simply. He didn't understand what was said.
Advay got out of the bed and opened the bags he had brought last night. He handed a new toothbrush to the boy, "This is yours, red and new. Mine is blue and old. Don't dare to get confused, alright?"
The boy then remembered certain things, well many things. He had left everything at the orphanage! He quickly felt his pant-pockets and the noise of a paper put him at ease. He was a little embarrassed to take it out though; it was the sorry note Advay gave him in the past.
But what was he going to wear? All the clothes the in-charge had given him were still lying on the shelves of the orphanage!
He took the brush from Advay and went into the bathroom forlornly.
'What's with him? Perhaps he didn't like red?' Advay did not know the area much. And he hates working out inside. For that day he decided to give up his morning exercise.
The house was pretty clean. He arranged his clothes quickly. It was for the best that he moved out of the university dorms and lived here. He opened another cupboard in the room and put the boy's clothes in.
The boy soon came out and Advay handed him a set of clothes. The boy looked at the materials in his hand and put them on the bed. He unfolded a shirt in his hands and held it up. It was his size, not Advay's.
The boy smiled, struggling to say something. He did not know thanks or sorry.
"Go and bathe fast now," Advay smiled back.
One after the other they freshened up. Now the question was once again, food. It was a lot less trouble if they went to the stall and ate there.
Risk was something Advay avoided, especially when he was not the one taking that risk.
"I'll get some food. I'll lock the door again." He repeated the actions he had done the night before.
The boy soon nodded.
Advay had nothing to do once again. He was bored until lunch.
The same pattern repeated. He would lock the door, buy the food at the same stall and they both would be inside the house.
In the rest of the time, Advay browsed his phone or spoke to the boy. He spoke about different things. Every news he saw on his phone, he told the boy.
The boy could not understand of course, Advay wasn't using any actions. There were only words and expressions. But that fascinated the boy very much. He listened keenly to Advay's voice and calmly observed his moving lips.
Advay saw him doing that.
"Stop looking at me like that! I feel like I am some weird being…"
The boy only waited for more words to come.
And Advay received an amused look.
He shook his head to shake off the feeling.
"Important question now is what I should call you. I feel myself being too rude if I just speak with you saying oi, oi…"
"Next time I go to the orphanage, I have to get your name!"
And so, Friday went by.
"Oi, eat more. You are so thin," Advay pushed the last piece of meat in the bowl towards the boy. But there was still more than half left in the boy's bowl.
"You should eat a lot faster. See, mine is done," he showed his empty bowl to the boy.
The boy nodded and ate a little faster. This time the boy seemed to understand with just that action.
The university had only half strength during these days. Advay could still use his food card for the free meals but when he thought of going out for long hours, he felt rather unsettled. Measured safety is as bad as no safety. At least during the time he can, he wanted to stay with the boy. Once he was sure there were no dangers, he was going to drop the boy at a better orphanage. If he is lucky to find the name of the boy, he would seek some assistance from the university's charity for him to study.
So, until the college started he would just laze around in this apartment and perhaps try and teach him some language and writing.
In the evening he went around some nearby shops and bought a small book. It had letters and pictures and some small words. As he flipped the book, he felt a hassle coming his way. He was going to become an elementary school teacher now.
While he went back, he had gotten some food along the way. When he opened the lock and went in, he saw the boy drying his washed clothes. ‘Good thing,’ he thought. He could happily take his own clothes back to the university and use the washer’s services there, but he could not take the boy’s clothes along with him.
After dinner, Advay opened the book and put it on the small table in the bedroom. The boy looked at it and then looked back at Advay.
Advay sighed, “Let’s start tomorrow.” He hoped the boy would not dislike learning language.