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by Saeed Tavakkol

“Hum.” That’s all I hear from her. She makes this sound to show me she’s paying attention. When I talk for hours, which happens frequently, she silently sits, stares into my eyes and listens. I can trace her gentle wheezing tangled into my words. I love the way she scratches her right ear.

I know she is listening carefully to what I say; I can see it in her eyes. But she neither comments nor questions; she knows when I pose a question, either I answer it myself or soon realize its absurdity. That’s how well she knows me. Her only response is, “Hum.” She occasionally inhales and exhales louder to display her sympathy. And when she does that, I look at her kind yet mischievous eyes and imagine how funny she would look wearing glasses.

Each therapist has his own techniques. The more experienced ones don’t talk as much. You may be talking for an hour and all he does is listen. When he feels you cannot express your emotions, he asks a simple question to get you back on track, a question you could have asked yourself and didn’t. And then he keeps quiet and listens again.

But shrinks are not truly sympathetic to you, listening is their job. I bet while you’re expressing your deepest emotions and confessing your darkest secrets to your shrink, things you’ve never mentioned to a soul, and at the precise moment you’re most emotionally vulnerable, he’s maliciously looking at the clock secretly hidden in the bookshelf behind you and calculating your bill. And a few minutes before your time is up especially when the next patient is waiting, he interrupts to inform you these sessions must continue. They love return customers. That’s why I don’t trust them anymore.

But she’s different. For her, money is not an issue. On numerous occasions, I talk for hours and she just sits in her chair and compassionately listens. She never looks at the clock because she doesn’t care about time. She knows how much I need her, how much her friendship means to me.

And to show my appreciation for her understanding, I usually give her a big piece of juicy meat from my plate and she wags her tail for me.

Saeed Tavakkol was born in Iran.  He immigrated to the United States in 1983.  His story insomnia was selected as story of the month in July and his Bio has not changed drastically since then. Contact Saeed.