LANGUAGE BARRIER By MARJORY M THOMPSON When I woke up, I felt like I had not slept at all. I was stiff and sore and could tell that I was not reclining in a bed. I did not want to open my eyes to see where I was. It felt like every bone in my body had something to complain about. The feeling that ‘whatever I was in’ was moving was not encouraging either. The steady motion could easily lead to a rebelling stomach.Rubbing my neck, face and head did not stop the motion nor encourage me to open eyes. However, as the unexpected notes from a flute floated toward me my eyes fly open.I was in a reclined chair, on a boat, on a wide river. There was a young girl sitting on a matt near by. She was playing the flute, seemingly unaware of me. When I sat up, she jumped up, stopped playing her music, smiled and spoke with a soft, beautiful voice. When I looked at her questioningly she spoke again, but I could not understand her words. “Hello” She gave me a smile and spoke again in strange sounding words.“Where am I?” She gave me a puzzled look.I pointed to the flute, smiles and said, “Your playing is very pretty.”She held out the flute and said one word.I pointed at it and said “Flute”.Cocking her head, she repeated what she said before.When I attempted the sound, she smiled, corrected me then grinned as I said the word again.By pointing and playing with sounds, she came close to saying my name and I called her “Sa-say-a” which seemed to please her. I began to move my hands to help me help express myself and she attentively watched each movement. I deliberately mimed with my hand that I wanted a drink. After a short questioning look, she walked to a water jug, poured me a drink and brought it to me.I asked her if anyone else was around, but she could not understand or answer.From there we carefully voiced, mimed and pointed to communicate. Finally I pointed to me and held up I finger. She did the same, by pointing to herself. I then pointed to her and me and held up two fingers. Again, she followed suit. Now I held up three fingers. I pointed to the first finger then pointed to me. I pointed to the second finger and pointed to her. We repeated those motions and we smiled our connection.Finally, I looked questioningly at the third finger, pointed to it, made a big show of looking for the person that finger represented and then shrugged my shoulders as I looked at her. Sa-say-a’s delighted laugh, like her flute, was wonderful to hear. Her small hands copied the motions I had give. She looked intently around the boat, shrugged her shoulders as I had shrugged mine as she pointed to her third finger.At my look of disappointment, she stood looking at me then turned to disappear behind some boxes. A moment later, she reappeared with an old woman in tow. “Sa-say-a” pointed to the woman, and then laughingly pointed to her third finger, saying "May-ua"