But before I saw Umar, I would have to transit through New York. At Grand Central Station there's an elevated view point that is flanked by grandiose marble steps. I take my time to look down on the people moving to and frow below me. If you squint your eyes a little and force your view to blur you may notice that there is order in the chaos, there's a stream of people moving in one direction, some people branch off at earlier points but those people are always followed by other people and thus another stream forms from the first.
Eventually, everyone will wash out and the entire hall will be empty. It will be dark save for the exit signs that will gleam their sentinal green. It will be still save for the scurrying mouse. It will be at once a small place but again large beyond understanding.
Lina was here on such a night. She had come all the way from Tromsø to visit me in the winter of our first year in university. She stood where I stood and at the very end of the hall she saw a security guard drawing a metal grille close. She gripped her suitcase handle with both hands and ran down the sloping marble stairs, keeping as much momentum up as possible across the vast expanse of the floor.
The guard looks up from under his cap to see a slender woman racing towards him across the empty hall, leaning to oneside to counteract the weight of the suitcase she bore on the other. Lina reached him as soon as he had locked her in. He looked at her through the metal rails, shrugged and told her to take the subway down the block. Lina didn't say anything. She thought she could make someone out in the distance behind the guard. Someone standing underneath a street lamp. He was pacing around it whilst checking his phone. She swallowed her fear and vomitted out her courage.
"Look! That's my boyfriend over there. And I haven't seen him for six months and I have flown from Norway and I really need you to open this gate."
The guard who had been half-asleep until this point, took one look at her glowing eyes and quickly opened the gate. As Lina passed through she apologised under her breath for her rudeness, she left in her wake such a gravitas and (reluctant) authority that the guard was compelled to salute her as she marched towards her lover.