Friday, August 29, 2008

Did not feel the time pass

Yesterday as I was driving back home in the late afternoon, a white SUV started following me. Its driver was trying his best to get my attention and as I usual in such recurrent situation with male drivers/stalkers I totally ignored him.

This time the guy was persistent and he kept trying to get on my left and right side, and opened the window. Curiosity was eating at me to be honest and I wanted to steal a glimpse -against my principles. So next time he managed to wedge his car between mine and the one on my right, I looked at his profile for a fraction of a second with the side of my eye. Not sure how I managed this Olympic feat, but I felt the shadow I had seen was somewhat familiar. I thought it could be the brother of one of my childhood friends or even one of our neighbors who somehow needed me for something urgent.

Then as his insistence to stop me did not waiver I looked again boldly this time and he smiled from ear to ear and waved cheekily. Still my brain which never forgets a face was trying to process this information while I was focusing on the road. When from a distant and hazy past I recalled that someone looking like him could have been my work colleague and friend at my first job back in 1989. "Was it possible?" I asked myself, the label for his name is totally eradicated from my mind but his face was 100% him. As I realized who he was I touched the automatic button to roll down my window and turned to him. That's when he told me "so you finally remembered me Violet?"." Oh my God I said it is you , but your hair is so white .." .

We stopped our respective cars on the side of the road and he stepped down to come and speak to me. "I'm sorry" I said extending my hand to him in greeting, I don't stop or look at men when they follow me. " I realized" he said "but there was no way to get your attention and I was going to follow you home, I have not seen you for over ten years now and so I was not going to let this coincidence go. So how have you been? I can't believe it girl you have fleshed out and become so beautiful, you haven’t changed a bit.". I laughed and thanked him "is that your way of saying diplomatically that I gained weight and that I'm fat?" "Oh no ", if it’s possible I think you are prettier then when I first met you, this suits you better..."

Anyway I looked at him and noticed the lines and the full mane of grey hair yet he was only 6 years younger than me and I wondered is that how I look to my contemporaries now, old? The way I am seeing him? He does not seem to think so…

I asked him how he was doing because last time I ran into him in the Souq El Moushir in 2001, I was shopping for my brother's wedding and he was with his mother and aunt shopping for gold gifts for his bride to be. He said that he had taken my advice, gone back to university, completed a degree and then went into the private business and is now doing very well and has traveled the world. He feels older and wiser and his only regret was marrying before finishing these things because now he realized that his relationship is simply going on because of the three children he had since. I told him not to regret marriage as he had done the right thing, he has family and someone to continue his bloodline and that I was happy he did listen to me and gone on to study. The way to success was to have your degree in your pocket and then you could venture in the world and do anything you want even if unrelated to your line of study because you were armed with knowledge and methodology and those are skills not easy to obtain unless you are perseverant.

I was slightly embarrassed, I mean the guy already a few minutes into the conversation and he unashamedly admits that he finds me attractive. I know he always had a soft spot for me. Since the day he was my 'confidante', back in the days when I was naïve and thought nothing of sharing with a Libyan man my love for and disappointment with another man. He was there when my first love broke my heart and the only person I found to turn to for comfort was him. I stood up from my desk that day and went to him and said "could you please just hug me for two minutes? I don't think I can bear the pain otherwise". I still remember vividly how he got up, wrapped his arms around me, put my head on his chest and stroked my hair and whispered that it was going to be all right. It was brief not even two minutes but I felt him trembling and I felt him being aroused. That was when I realized that his friendship has over the months turned into attraction (I don't know about love). Anyway I am grateful for his hug because it was the right thing to do at the right time even if he must have thought I had broken all conventions and cultural taboos. His hug helped me push down the pain that my first love had inflicted on me with his total insensitivity and which I am still struggling to get over with.

So now he was standing in front of me 20 years after that hug and I am sure he was remembering it as well. I was not sure though what he was thinking, because for me it had no sexual connotations apart from the same reassurance that I could get from a female friend and which I did not have at that time, but he did express his wish to meet up for a cup of coffee.

At some level it does feel flattering to be remembered and recognized at first glance name and all and also to know that you are still attractive physically and don't look one bit my 40+.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dying of Regret

Today's story is written by my reader and friend Mafkoud he sent it to me right after this post . It's finally time to share. I have given it a title and done some very minor editions to some typing errors. Thanks Mafkoud for this pretty story and for volunteering.

I was a normal average being once, now what I mostly do is talk to the shadows, and the funny thing is I know they are shadows. I try to push them away shout at them but they keep coming, when I remember how it all started I can not stop longing for that day that face that smile....

It was a rainy day, with the help of some wind little rain can be a real curse, I gave up my umbrella when I recognized the emptiness of my cigarette packet, and the umbrella was useless anyway...

I was late for work already, I had a meeting which must be starting without me now, and all I think about is a fag I need to smoke if I want to keep going. Within like 200 yards I spotted this shop 2 blocks away from the building I work in. The choice to get in the shop did not take time but I hated myself for that and reflected the hatred on all the beings around me.

She was on her knees, I saw her rare as one of natures rare perfections, her jeans were a bit lower than where they should be and in the gap I lose my senses for a moment.. I freeze for a while then remember why i was here, it was so easy to gain back all the darkness and negativity as it always was, except when she turned to me smiling I was a fire faced with a sudden splash of water, she was in her early twenties may be four or five years younger than me, her eyes were pure yet not simple, she must have been through some roughness, I mean .. hell she works as a shop girl!!. All that did not really matter, what was disturbing me is her annoying smile, Damn !!! People do not smile unless for a hell of good reason, hell!! Where is her reason this smiley cow she is stupid enough to smile with no reason I can see, and she seems like she means it....

Her voice came softly though "sorry, would you wait for a second? I will be right with you" she said. I replied with silence, there is a reason for her smile after all, she wants her customer to wait till her highness find the time to deal with my humble request.. but no that does not fit, these smiles which have become a second nature to me are like a lamp light no matter how bright they are there is no warmth in them, her smile was as warm as the mid July sun... the equation is not balanced here this is not a creature I can understand...I waited for seconds till she was available "so sorry how can I help you" she said, I avoided her face for a second but I got caught in the sea of her eyes, different smile as genuine as the first but flavoured with a bit embarrassment, my voice came out harsh as if I am punishing her for a sin I am not sure about its nature "cigarettes.." I said ... "Marlboro" I clarified a second later.

She turned to give me the packet and I was relieved to escape her eyes, when she turned back I had the money ready, I want to spend no more time than I needed to with this blue eyed thing, I gave her the money half angry... she thanked me and greeted me in some way, I replied with an impatient smile and went for the door.

I lit a cigarette and went back to my life, at first I was puzzled what could be behind her smiles what could make a shop girl happy? the more I thought about her the angrier I became, she is a stupid cow smiling for no reason I might be jealous of her, or curious about her but what ever state I was in it had no weight compared to the longing I had for these smiles, I was a future junkie who had just had his first dose.......

The second day and many days after, I came to her shop even if my cigarettes had not finished yet, ready with the money, with time a have grown accustomed to her I like to feel that I know something about her, I spent my nights thinking and analysing her, today she is happier, she might have a new lover or may be it is just me being paranoid I mean even if she does, why should I care I do not even know her name, and then it hit me like a flash of light... I need a name for her asking her name was out of question so I named her, I called her Jasmine, how pathetic is that, the days I passed by her and she was not as happy as usual, that brought me back to earth, after all she is human is not she and humans can not smile everyday do not they, but even though she had that magic that made her float as if she came from another world. what power is it that makes you float even in your sorrowful Jasmine?? what power.....

It took only days for me to notice James, he is a mid fifties homeless who stood not far away from Jasmine's shop, before that James was just another object in my path to work, I never gave him any attention and now we share Cigarettes, I even bought him a takeaway lunch once, one day he told me all about how he was a electrician some years ago and about his wife who cheated on him and how he lost everything, he said to me the only good friends in this world are the bottle and those who would offer it, what was weird about James he always greeted people passing him, some replied and some do not even look back at him.

I spent my lunch hours with James, and every now and then I was thinking what the hell is wrong with me, summer was coming and April used to be just another month but some how colours and smells gave me new sensations, it is funny how a silly pack of Marlboro can change your life.

Every now and then I was thinking to ask Jasmine her real name, I even had a daydream that she will tell me that her real name is Jasmine I do not know how I would react if that had happened

It was strange phase I was passing by, a Dreamy one, but as any dream it has to stop at some point to wake up not in the happily ever after but in your cold room late for work again with 2 month late rent. the waking up was so painful... it was in mid July almost six month after I first met Jasmine, the heat of the Summer was getting to my day dreams ... and then there was that crash, a drunk rriver crashed directly into Jasmine's shop, the first thing I thought was who would be drunk at noon, then I noticed the crowd, the police have not arrived yet. I could not help noticing that the sunny sky got grey in my eyes. people trying to help, shouting about a leakage in the fuel tank, that was the last thing I remember before turning and going back to work... no questions no answers every word can be as heavy as hell. I do not remember how I got to my desk but I do remember that when I got there my mind was set “I will never pass by this road again ....” and I never did.

It takes few more minutes to get to work avoiding Jasmine's shop, and for a month I was fine. But then she started to visit in my dreams, with her usual smile, it was pleasant to see her face again. but she never said a word, I never gave her a chance before, even when she started these small conversations I always ended them as fast as possible and cold as possible, if I gave her a chance to talk back then she might have said something in my dreams. Jasmine that's not even your real name why you did not try harder to talk to me, why could you not see the longing under my stupidity....
Then a few days after the first dream, I saw her walking in the street once, I called after her I shouted Jasmine !! Before realizing that even if she was Jasmine she would not know if I was calling for her. I ran after her and I grabbed her by the arm I was sure that she was My Jasmine. The lady looked surprised, I apologized before turning back she was not Jasmine and I need a Doctor. That was the day I knew that my mental state is at question and it only got worse since then. I could not go to a doctor, what if I am cured and I do not see her again, after all this,no matter how stupid it is, is the only thing I have left of her... even worse what if he asks me to go to the shop to see what came of her, I can not go there again what if somebody else is there in her place, or even worse what if she was hurt and she was not herself again.... NO NO that is not an option.. no risks! She has died and that's that, the sorrow of the lost is much more bearable than the crash of the hope.

In my dark room I sat everyday, all grumpy, why did not I ask her name? why do not I check? For all I know she could be alive and well. all I have to do is go there and ask for god sake... but when her face came to visit I was relieved she did not ask me hard questions, she just smiles for a while and then disappears. They say if you lose your arm for a while you will still feel it is there, they call it the ghost feeling; now I have my own ghost feeling in my own way.......

The other day James visited me in my day dreams, I missed the guy but he was part of Jasmine's world and in this world I would never step in again, James talked a lot, and I was happy he did. But before he left he asked about her, the shop girl he called her, I did not know what to say so I did not reply. For the first time James had a look of pity in his eyes, it was only for a moment before he disappeared as Jasmine does.

Now here I am Doctor begging to you to fix me, all I want is to be normal again to be with out ghosts, because if they do not stop I will kill myself I am telling you that, this is a what I am going to do .....and do not tell me to go to her shop please !!!

My commment : basically don't let the chance pass when it smiles you in the face or you will live to regret it.