The sight of another

Night was cold and damp when I decided to cut my walk short, and look for an all-night tea-room at the far end of dockside. Owned by an old Russian émigré, it had a silver samovar brewing tea under the icon of St. Nicholas. On a good night one can hear stories about steppes covered in snow as far as eye can see.

My poems and I wrestled in the open air with foreign words over such expressions as ‘prozracan’ and ‘nevidljiv.’ Exhausted, we shuddered from an empty page staring at us both.

At the entrance warmth thawed it all into the aroma of human scent, tea leaves, and melted candle-wax.

It was almost empty but for couple of men softly humming old Cossacks songs, and a woman sitting at the table next to the window. I noticed her heavy woollen hat first. It was knitted from multi-coloured wool and looked too small. Like a child’s.

Her hands were busy taking small objects from a heavy bag in her lap, and arranging them on the checkered tablecloth. I could not see what they are from where I was standing. But I could see her bony fingers, half covered by cut-off gloves, holding each small object tenderly before placing it inside the chosen spot. Then checking the arrangement and making necessary adjustments. Like a market-stall seller.

Quietly I moved to the nearby table. Pretending to write in my notebook, I sipped the tea and watched.

There was a small yarn-doll with missing arm, a pearl-necklace with broken clutch, a notebook bended in the middle like it has been carried in a back pocket for years, few toy-soldiers, a heavy ornate brooch, a dented tobacco tin, an oddly shaped brass harmonica.  Debris of life. What kind of inconsolable neglect or intense loneliness could have brought it all together?

After she took the last object out of her bag, she placed the bag on the floor against the table’s timber leg. Clasping both hands under her chin she took the site of her possessions. Slowly, her shoulders dropped, and her head settled to rest inside the open palm of her right hand. I could only glance at the beginning of a smile carving upward shapes inside the corner of her mouth.

But I could not see what the last addition to the arrangement was without moving forward. It looked like a photograph or a letter.

Scratching of a wooden chair over the concrete floor embarrassed me. I ducked into my notebook for cover. This is why I never saw her turning towards me.

 ‘You can come over and have a look.’

Her voice was soft, almost melancholy. There was no surprise in it.

It would be much later I remembered that she spoke to me in language we both knew. And that she called me by my old name; ‘Nina, you are Nina aren’t you.’ I never asked for hers.

Looking up, I saw a face broken into smile by thousands intersecting lines. Highway of life.

‘I am sorry. I did not mean to intrude.’

‘You did not. I saw you coming in. Sit next to me. But first ask Volodya to bring some fresh tea.

Moving next to her, I saw it was an old-fashioned, black and white photograph with richly decorated borders. Placed in the centre of a circle all other objects formed. A face of a young man in uniform was smiling from it. His cap pushed back from his forehead slightly. Just enough to give his whole face wayward look.

 ‘My husband.’ She said. ‘He died in the war.’

‘I am sorry.’

‘It was a long time ago. And we both knew love. I became visible in his sight.’


‘Yes, of course. To be made visible you need the sight of another. It is what I wanted to tell you all along. No words can make you visible. From any language. Only the lake of vision inside the eyes that see you. It is the only time you will become visible. ‘



Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

34 thoughts on “The sight of another”

    1. Dear Waldo,

      I am always so happy to find your comment under the Lantern! I cannot thank you enough for all the ongoing support … you say some of the most wonderful things about my writings, that often humble me. To know that any of my stories can touch another human being … this is what my writings are all about and always have been.
      Many thanks,
      All the Best,


  1. I felt I was watching the movie. Your descriptions are so good. I saw the whole scene. And I felt the whole scene too. You made it visible.

    Good……that word seems inadequate. I hope you understand. 🙂


    1. I do understand … and I am grateful to you! Because what you said made me very happy; to know that piece can evoke emotions – that is what my writings are all about -:)!

      Take Care,


  2. What a profound, lovely post, Daniela. Your tone and details add a rich truth to this. I was especially interested in the “I became visible in his sight.” What a beautiful legacy.


    1. Dear Malcolm,

      Thank you for the comment. I always enjoy comments with questions in them – they make me think! As writers we make, or at least try to make, ourselves heard through words. Words have to be seen (or heard) to be received. But before we have words, and even if never found them, we are human beings; men and women … and as such we are only truly seen, made visible in the sight of each other, in the reflection of each other’s vision. Child is made visible in his or hers mother’s eye … a woman in her lover’s eye … or at least this is what this ‘writer’ has come to believe! Countless people will see us in our lifetime … but only those that love us, will make us visible.

      Many thanks,


  3. As always, you tell a story that is so enthralling I wish, no – I beg, you to go on. Who is this lady and why does she cherish all those objects? How does she know Nina’s name? Is Nina really the old lady reliving her past? I LOVE you blog Daniela and I wish you would write a whole book. Have you written a whole book? Tell me please. I would like to buy it.


    1. My dear,

      I cannot not thank you enough for your wonderful comments full of kindness and encouragement. I have not written a whole book yet, but am working on it … admittedly by a snail pace due to full-time paid work! But one thing is certain – if this work of mine ever sees a light of a day in any form of publishing – you will be one of the people who most certainly will NOT buy it because I will personally send it to you for free! Or here is an idea … if I ever make it to your end of the woods – it will be hand delivered -:)!

      Once again thank you -:)!



      1. Daniela, I am now very excited about your book! But, if you ever make it to my neck of the woods (with or without your published work) just make sure you come to me for a visit! Meeting you in person would be a monumental privilege. ~Dor


  4. Yes, this wonderful line: “It was a long time ago. And we both knew love. I became visible in his sight.” A young woman asked me to help her over her writer’s block. She wanted to write about love, but had never been in love. She needs to read this post.


    1. Hi Denise,

      Thank you very much -:)! It is always a pleasure to ‘see’ you under the Lantern!

      P.S. Story will be told about knowing the name too eventually -:)!


  5. Beautifully written. I’m not entirely satisfied, though, because of the so many questions left unanswered! I’m curious to know more and I’m annoyed—and that’s always a good thing. This is not a hater’s comment, but instead that of an admirer bugging (begging?) the writer to continue her enchanting story. 😉


    1. Oh Daniela … thank you so much for reading and commenting … it is such a wonderful comment and I understand completely.

      Believe it or not sometimes I get annoyed too … at all the stories that live inside me … and torment me. Sometimes I wish I can just write and write until my fingers bleed and be done with it!

      Many thanks,
      Be Well,


  6. You have explained to the world why I blog. Being seen and seeing others makes life livable. 🙂 Thanks for a beautifully crafted story. My heart always stretches when I read your posts. 🙂


Has it sparked something in you?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s