Strangers in a Bar
Strangers in a Bar5 mins 202 5 mins 202
The bar was rarely empty and with its somber lighting, the guests did not see each other much. The bartender believed this was why bars ran; there was nothing more peaceful than drinking away your private world in the company of unknown strangers. No one would look, no one would judge, life would simply continue for everyone and nobody would interfere.
Several strangers passed by as Mira kept drinking. Her knuckles were growing white around the glass of whiskey as the music kept booming in her eardrums. She wanted to scream, wanted to shriek. She was just about to go over and ask the rambunctious bunch to “Shut Up!” when she was served a piece of cake. Her surprise was obvious, she made the most puzzled expression towards the bartender. The man simply shrugged and said, “The college chaps are celebrating a birthday.”
The ‘college chaps’ were obnoxiously loud, but the chocolate cake and frosting had bought her over. She simply sent over a glass of champagne to the birthday boy and raised her glass with a smile when he looked over. He grinned like a little child, Mira wondered if he was underage or not, but then remembered she’d done stupid things as a child too. The last thing he needed was a stranger going out of her way to report him.
“Those boys should be told this is the happiest they’ll ever be.” Mira was wondering the same, but when it was voiced right beside her, she spun her head, “What?”
This woman beside her also drank whiskey, but unlike Mira, her stool was completely turned to face the loud college kids celebrating. Her face was partly in the dark owing to the lighting but her yellow blazer seemed to stand out. The woman in question raised her glass and smiled and said, “College kids. They don’t know how lucky they are.” Mira returned her smile, only partly inconvenienced to talk to a stranger and replied, “Maybe not knowing that is what makes those days so happy.”
“I would sure go and have more fun if I knew that’s the last time I’d get to.”
Mira wanted to end the conversation, it wasn’t the best night for her. She was here to drink away the evening, a philosophical debate was not her idea, but it echoed out of her soul somehow, “Knowing it’s the last, doesn’t make it fun!”
The bartender raised his brow as he refilled her glass, she may have yelled it. The stranger hummed, a disagreeing kind of humming, but Mira’s head were in her hands, hovering over her glass, she restrained a retort. Several moments passed before the stranger spoke again, “Bad day, was it?”
“So we’re both here for similar reasons then.”
Mira turned to face her again, the stranger’s face was still focused on the college kids. “You seem to have found some form of entertainment in those kids. Spread the joy?”
The stranger turned her eyes toward Mira, barely discernible in the dark lighting, “This group is probably the basketball team of their college, a few days back, I saw them celebrating a victory. I’ve also seen a couple of boys, studying in a nearby café. Not much entertainment as such, just seeing how things play out.”
“How things play out? They’re just celebrating.”
“I’m not done yet. Another time, I saw birthday boy and his friends crying here.”
“Well that’s not unheard of in bars.”
As if on cue, the college kids started shaking hands and heading out. They hugged, messed up the birthday boy’s hair, chortled and left. Mira’s eyes flickered over her watch, showing 1:00AM. They cheered loudly and soon the last of them exited the bar. Her vision blurred with slight tears, she was a little envious of their happiness. Blissfully unaware of the harsh nature of corporate life.
Admittedly, even during college Mira spent her time differently. Sure, she cheered for her clubs, cried for the loss in the basketball court, laughed through the night when they were supposed to be cramming, but differently. There was something callous in the way her friends enjoyed those memories, something she didn’t have. She didn’t love indefinitely, she always knew these days would end, so she always guarded herself.
Blaming her upbringing or whatever seemed like a bore, so Mira just accepted it. She was a woman who didn’t love, not the way others did anyway. She loved her pets, her plants, her friends, family but never more. She would not be at a bar after 12AM, simply to celebrate a fellow teammate’s birthday. She would just text, maybe get a gift the next day and that would be it.
Her mind resonated, ‘knowing it will end doesn’t make it fun.’ Every day, Mira lived, knowing the end and that, that’s what keeps her from having fun. How some people seemed to find it easier to live when you know you’ll die was unimaginable for her. Live as best as you can, what an impossible thought.
A shuffling sound beside her brought her back to reality, the stranger was paying her tab and sprang down the stool, seeing Mira looking at her, she calmly replied, almost disinterested, “That boy’s dying, you know. The birthday boy, they were crying over his cancer, and that was his last match in the basketball court, he has a few more weeks maybe. Yet, seeing him have fun made me envious..”
She didn’t say it, but Mira could hear it, “He was having fun, because he knew it’s the last.” Then she left.
Mira froze there. It felt like the most important moment in her life, like the greatest of revelations. She wanted to smile, she wanted to cry. She remembered the boy and her heart swelled with pity, then she thought of herself and a few drops leaked from her eyes. She didn’t need to guard herself, nobody looked in a bar. When we’re busy fighting our own battles others become irrelevant. Sometimes though, we inspire. Like the boy, whose careless joy stirred Mira’s heart. Love is choosing, it’s a choice, so we should choose to be fully happy, even if that means being fully sad sometimes.