Wrinkled and old, with a beautiful linen headcover, my seatmate on my flight from Ethiopia is blind in one eye. She needs help putting her bag in the upper bin, as do I, due to wearing a sling. A third woman comes over with purpose and a huge smile, cheerfully helping us both before putting her own things away.


At some point, I get up to stretch and while trying to buckle myself back in, an aged, hennaed hand reaches out and buckles me in. She reaches around my back and straightens my t-shirt, making sure it is comfortable. I take her hand with my good one and squeeze a thank you while looking into her good eye. She pats my cheek and smiles so gently that I feel my eyes water. We hold hands for a little bit and I listen and nod as she speaks to me quietly in a language I don’t understand until she pats my cheek again and settles herself in for a nap.


A toddler gurgles and laughs to himself on the other side of the plane.