There’s an elderly woman on the flat I live in who’s terribly afraid of me. She’s probably in her early 70’s. The look on her face whenever she sees me gives her away. It’s one of utter fright. It makes me chock on my laughter. She gives a look of absolute fear, panic and an unreasonable level of anxiety as though she’s seen the ghosts of people of old who used to live on this same flat. She trembles and holds tightly onto her bag and turns back. She leaves the way for me. It always cracks me up. This might sound unreasonable but I like it. I find it super hilarious.
Two weeks ago as I stepped out for my morning jog, we met at the front door. It was her first time to see me on that flat. I was getting out and she was supposed to walk in. It was about 6:10am. I’d run down the stairs which meant my body had built up a bit of jogging momentum.
I opened the front door and as soon as she saw me, she froze in her morning attire, missed a step, almost fell. I don’t know what I would’ve done had the old woman fallen. Gosh! She held her bag close to her heart and turned back with strides whose pace I couldn’t record, running to use the back door to save her life from me, the stranger.
I imagine she must’ve been thinking, “Who on earth is this black guy? What’s he doing here? Does he want to rob me? Oh no, God please, save me from this guy. Save me, Lord. Save me. I need to tell Frau Weingarz about this strange guy. [Frau Weingarz is my landlady.] He creeps the life out of my old age.”
She kept looking behind her back to be sure I wasn’t following her.
And on Monday morning, we met again, this time at the back door. I was returning from my jog, legs tired and knee joint aching. I’d hurt my knee. It was about 6:50am. She was in front of me. She held her key in her hand and was about to insert it in the key hole to unlock the door while thinking things that old people think. Things like, I don’t know…I can’t think of any. Her mind was on old people stuff.
I slowed down to ease the pain on my knees. I didn’t want to freak her out by showing up behind her so I cleared my throat when I was about 5 meters from her. She turned, saw me and her keys shot off her hand, listening to the call of gravity. She bent and picked them up quickly. Old lady dashed for safety to the o parking lot, away from me. I thought she was going to jump over the wooden fencing to our neighbor’s. That would’ve been fantastic entertainment for me.
She was shaken. I looked at her and smiled. She still wore the same look of complete fear that she wore the first time she saw me. My smile didn’t ease her out of the tension of her skin. I wanted to tell her I live on this flat, just like she does. I wanted to make her feel comfortable, that I’m not a threat to either her life or her earthly possessions. I wanted to speak the little German I knew, reassuring her that she shouldn’t be afraid of me. I don’t bite. I don’t sting. I don’t cut. But I was quick to open the door and jog up to the second floor where I stay.
I guess she probably peeped to make sure there was no sight of me before she got in to the building. Thing is, it isn’t my responsibility to control how people think or feel about me.
I want to meet her again. I’m eager to see how she’ll react.
Since Monday morning, after returning from my jog and meeting old lady at the back door, I’ve been walking with a tormenting limp. It feels as though someone hit my knee with a golf ball. It’s slowing my pace and making me feel like a worthless slug. It isn’t the limp of an old man whose knees are giving way, knees that have carried his feet during his walk on planet earth for years. Nope. The ol’ man would probably have a walking stick to help him manoeuvre his way around.
Mine isn’t the limp one gets when there’s a boil in their groin or when they have a sexually transmitted infection. Do sexually transmitted infections cause people to walk with a limp? I wouldn’t know. I haven’t been through that. [Hold up! This paragraph shouldn’t have made it to this blog post. It slipped through the keyboard.]
I hurt the hinge of my right knee while on a morning jog. I’d dressed up comfortably for the workout. My sneakers were light with just the right amount of space for air circulation between my toes. I wore my tights that ran down my legs and an equally body holding long sleeve workout shirt. I even draped on a jogging jumper to handle the morning cold. Anyone who saw me would think I was an athlete to behold, except – of course – the old lady. She knew I was reading articles that have titles like, Jogging for Dummies or A Beginner’s Guide to Jogging.
With my earphones on and socks that cushion my heels and soles, I was good to go.
I’m using the Couch to 5K app to help me build momentum in this jogging thing. I figured I needed to start developing some good habits as I prepare to get onto the third floor of my life. I need to step on that floor with a fitness level that gives me the oomph to run a marathon.
I can’t explain what happened to my knees on one of those jogs but I got a pain. I ignored it, thought I was the master of my body. It didn’t hurt that much. It stayed lying on its belly like an innocent crocodile. I forgot that crocodiles are never innocent.
That crocodile lay by the bank of pain waiting for me to make a move. I thought everything was okay until Monday morning. I dressed up again, like the aspiring athlete I’m trying to be, jogged down the steps of my flat, opened the front door and took the strides of a runner. That was the move that that crocodile was waiting for.
The pain that hid in my knee started pushing itself out. I got to the 3km mark and couldn’t run any longer with ease. The crocodile of pain had grabbed my knee joint and held onto it as though it was prey. It held on with teeth deep into my joints. It had a concrete grip on my leg. I couldn’t escape.
It was singing, “You can run, you can jog but you can’t escape my pain.”
I tried to kick it off – the pain, that is. I did all I could to set myself free. It took a huge bite that left a chunk of my knee feeling as though it had cavities. I kept the jog going in spite of the pain, dragging myself to the next mark, looking at the app to see how much progress I’d made. At 4km, I was done. I slowed down and finished the workout right before the old woman took off from the back door because she’d seen me.
So yeah, I have a limp. And I’m putting the blame on that old woman for it. Hehehehe.