You told me how to say hello in 16 languages. I already knew five: bonjour, buongiorno, hola, witaj, hello.
The other eleven were new to me and I’ve already forgotten them. You had me repeat them each twice but they’ve since slipped from my tongue. Although, sometimes they come back to me, on the bus, in the grocery store, in bed, and I’ll suddenly say them out loud. I never mean to. It’s just I remember how much you liked it when my pronunciation was perfect and that’s the only thing I can think about. Maybe, I’ve said hello to people without even realizing it. Maybe, it made their day or maybe they said something back and I couldn’t really understand except enough to know that I couldn’t know their language ever.
You never told me how to say anything else: no goodbyes, I love yous, or ways to ask for someone to pass the salt. I learned a few, later, on my own. I can say forget in twenty-seven tongues. And please in thirty.
After you left, I wrote down every word I’d like to tell you. There were so many words. It was un-translatable because all of them meant something else. Finally I just wrote down: bonjour, buongiorno, hola, witaj, hello, hello, hello.