Meeting Nata

Nata was sitting in the restaurant, waiting for Micah. He had asked her to have lunch with his uncle and him. “I hope you don’t mind,” he told her. “He’s a Christian like you and very much into missionary work like Daniel.”

“No, I don’t mind. I’d like to meet him.”

“Good. We’ll meet you at the restaurant. He’ll probably get there before me. So, if an older Asian man approaches you, don’t be alarmed. It’s him.”

She smiled. “I’m sure he’ll introduce himself.”

“Yes, he will. And I’m sure you two will have lots of spiritual stuff to talk about before I get there.”

She kept her an eye out for Micah’s uncle. It was a Sunday afternoon. The restaurant wasn’t full. There were couples, friends and families. She had never been here before but it was bright and cheerful. The staff was friendly. When she had shown up and told the man at the front the name under which the reservation was made, he cheerfully escorted her to the table. When the waitress had come by to find out if she wanted to order her drink, she had told her that she would wait until the others got there before she ordered.

She perked up now when she saw a tall and well-built Asian man step into the dining area, looking around. If it was Micah’s uncle, he was much younger than she expected and very attractive.

Azriel stood there for a moment, his eyes scanning the room. Micah had told him, “Just look for the most beautiful girl wearing a red scarf on her head.”

And there she was, sitting at the table. He headed over to her. When he was standing behind the chair opposite her and their eyes met, he was momentarily at a loss for words. She had to be the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Clearing his throat, he said, “Hello.”

“Hello.”

“You must be Nata.”

She nodded. “Yes, I’m Nata. And you must be Micah’s uncle.”

He extended his hand. “Yes, I’m Azriel.”

She shook his hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Azriel.”

He pulled out the chair and sat down. “It’s nice to meet you too. I expect Micah will be here shortly. We can order our drinks in the meantime.”

“All right.”

He signaled to the waitress. They ordered their drinks and she left. “Micah told me that you met Daniel four years ago in Dakar.”

“Yes, I met him when he came to the Serer village where I’m from and he talked to some of us about Jesus. Before he left, I and others who accepted Jesus were baptized. I still can’t believe that he’s dead.”

“It was a complete shock for the family but it turns out that he suffered from heart disease. His wife, Noémie is still in a very bad state.”

“Do they have any children?”

“No. Perhaps, it’s just as well. Is Daniel the reason why you’re here in Paris?”

“Yes. He encouraged me to study abroad and offered to be my sponsor if I decided to study here. He would have liked to put me up but couldn’t because of his wife. He made arrangements for me to stay with a friend, a Mrs. Padgett until after I graduate and find a place of my own.”

“You’re attending the Sorbonne University?”

“Yes.”

“What are you studying?”

“Education. I want to be a teacher at a Christian elementary school or daycare. I love children.”

“I hope you don’t mind me asking you this, but how old are you?”

“I’m 19. Will turn 20 next month.”

“You look younger.”

She smiled. “I’ve been told that a lot. And, I hope you don’t mind me asking you how old you are?”

“I’m 39.”

“I thought you would be older looking.”

“You mean because I have, or rather had two grown nephews?”

“Yes. I thought you would be in your fifties.”

“When people saw Daniel, Micah and me together, they thought we were brothers and that I was the eldest. They were surprised when I told them that I was their uncle. Deborah, their mother is much older than me. There are four of us and I’m the youngest. What about you? Do you have family in Dakar?”

“Only my grandmother. I lost my parents and I never had any brothers or sisters. I was living with my grandmother. She encouraged me to leave Dakar and to come here because she wanted me to have a good life.”

“Well, it was a good decision.” He glanced at his watch. “I can’t imagine what could be keeping that nephew of mine.”

“Maybe, he’s just running late.”

Just then, Azriel’s cell rang. He took it out of his pants pocket and looked at the display. “Guess who,” he said to Nata before he answered the call. “Micah, where are you? Nata and I are here at the restaurant waiting for you.” He listened for a moment and then, he said. “I’ll let Nata know. Take care. ‘Bye.” He ended the call and placed his cell on the table. “He called to say that something came up and he won’t be able to join us.”

“Oh.” Nata wasn’t terribly disappointed. She rather enjoyed his uncle’s company. He was very easy to talk to. And, she couldn’t get over how attractive he was. “That’s too bad.”

“Yes.” To be quite honest, Azriel was glad that it was just going to be Nata and him having lunch. “I guess we can go ahead and order now.”

Over delicious chicken saj, Hummus, taboule & fries, they talked about everything, from art, to travel, food, religion and books. Then, it was time to leave. He insisted on paying for her meal as well. “Thank you,” she said.

“It’s my pleasure. Did you drive here?”

“No, I took the train.”

“Could I give you a lift somewhere?”

“To Bibliothèque Nationale de France if it isn’t out of your way. I have some research to do for a paper.”

“It isn’t and I’d be more than delighted to give you a ride there. Let’s go.”

They left the restaurant to the parking lot. On the way to the library, she asked him about himself. He was single. He lived in an apartment overlooking Notre-Dame and the Eiffel Tower and was a bank manager. On the weekends, he liked to relax with a book or go for a drive or walk or watch documentaries or sports. “What about you?”

“Aside from studying and going to the library, I like to watch television, read, listen to music or go to the mall or just walk about the city, window shopping or to the park for a while.”

“You don’t have a boyfriend, do you?”

“No.”

“In that case, would you have dinner with me on Saturday?” It was Sunday today. Saturday seemed a long way off.

She smiled. “Yes, I would like that very much.”

“All right. Write down your number where I can reach you and I’ll call you during the week.”

She went into her satchel, tore out a page from her small notepad, wrote down her name, number and address, folded it and handed it to him. He took it and put it in his pants pocket. When they reached the library, he pulled up alongside the curb, got out and walked around to open the door for her. As she stepped out onto the sidewalk, their eyes met. “Thanks again for lunch,” she said shyly.

“You’re welcome, Nata.” He couldn’t get over how beautiful she was. And young…much younger than him. “I’ll call you during the week.”

“All right.” I’m looking forward to hearing from you, she thought. “Goodbye, Azriel.”

“Goodbye, Nata.” He watched as she walked away before he closed the passengerside door and walked around to the driver’s side. He couldn’t wait to see her again.

Sources: Indeed; iSchool Connect

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