Welcome

Psst. The grey-haired canteen attendant sweeps me in off the sidewalk. Tea, he says when I get to the door. He is not asking. Shows me where to sit. He’s watched me walking by here when the math department is still padlocked, maybe. He has kind eyes and knows I need a place to be. Saw me ejected, perhaps, from the library across the street. Brings a little glass of milky tea and I know he’ll swat me like a fly if I try to refuse it. Holds my gaze and makes this table mine. He picks up my mechanical pencil and plays with it. There’s only that one word we both know, but he’s my Grandpa now. I’m sitting here writing about him, he’s serving tin plates of hot food, and this, I think, at long last: welcome to campus. He takes my empty cup but gestures for me to stay.

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