A New Friend

Ho Chi was surprised that someone was in the lounge. It was Adel, the player from Germany. Although Ho Chi had been hoping for some quiet after the rigorous soccer practice that morning, he smiled when Adel looked up. Though they had not formally met, Adel indicated the chair next to him. Ho Chi sat down uncomfortably.

Usually Ho Chi liked talking with strangers, but Adel was different. Not only did he speak a different language, he was deaf.

Ho Chi knew that nothing he said could be heard or understood. He looked down, thinking about the soccer camp they were attending. Despite his condition, Adel was participating. So Ho Chi pretended to rub his feet as if they were sore. Suddenly Adel smiled and began rubbing his shoulder. Then he shrugged and gave a thumbs-up sign.

He seemed to mean that he was enjoying the camp in spite of being tired. Ho Chi nodded, showing that he felt the same way.

Pleased with their mutual understanding, Adel pulled a notebook out of a bag. He quickly wrote a few words, stopped abruptly, and looked dismayed. Ho Chi eagerly peered at the page and suddenly understood Adel’s confusion. The message was German. Adel wrote a lot, but that method would not work today. The two young men sat together in silence. In spite of the barriers, they wanted to talk with each other.

In frustration, Adel began drawing small vines on the edge of the paper. Ho Chi, excited, held his hand out for the pencil.

His hobby was art, and it could be the key they needed. He rapidly sketched one of their coaches. Adel recognized the image despite its rough outline. He stood up and pretended to be the coach. The impersonation was so funny that Ho Chi started to laugh and draw again. Soon the page was filled with people they both recognized.

The two young men enjoyed their dialog so much that they had to run to be on time for afternoon practice. They entered the changing room together, both happy and amazed. Despite the barriers of language and hearing, they were becoming new friends.