As i watch his squared fingers hold his cards, laying them out on the table, sorting them according to colour, and trying to recognise correctly the numbers on them,
i have a flashback...
My first flaxen haired girl - always wearing a cotton dress and thick colorful butterfly tights - sitting on the kitchen chair propped on her knees so she can reach the top of the table. Her eyes are a bright summer day blue - warm and moist with just a hint of the caution that sits behind them.
Her uneven bangs are her mama's attempt to tame her thin whispy mane. Her hair only behaves for the first hour after a bath, after that jumping up to stand at every odd angle, it's jovial display of clownishness masking the serious girl it crowns.
She's my girl.
Every emotion that flashes across that face, over those blue orbs; every delicate mannerism is in my native tongue. i understand every hesitation, every cock of her eyebrow, each hint of a smile that never comes farther than the tip of her eye - not ever even making the slightest curve on her lips... i'm one of the few adults she'll make eye contact with in these years when a stranger's hello can bring her clinging to my knees in great hiccuping sobs.
She was playing uno with her granny - she couldn't have been more than four.
She layed that second to last card of her hand precisely on the deck, with tiny hands whose every fingernail is a chewed down stub, matching the chewed down stubs on her dolly's hands that rests beside her... both victims of her nervous habit.
"Cairo!" Granny so gently encouraged, "You layed down your second last card... that means you have to say, 'uno'!"
Her head shook almost imperceptibly.
"C'mon, it's just part of the game. You gotta say, 'uno' and if i catch you not saying it, then you have to pick up TWO cards, and look, you're almost finished! You don't want to have to pick up two cards."
Tender blonde head shakes - eyes full of understanding, and unwillingness.
"Ok, Cairo - you have to choose, you can either say 'uno' or you have to pick up two cards!!"
Granny teases gently, but Cai won't budge - she reaches over and delicately picks two cards off the top of the pile adding them to her solitary card.
"UNO!!" Sunshine Boy cries, dragging me back to the present - and Time laughs at me in her beautiful merciless way.