‘So, he is here again….’ I thought to myself, as I sipped my coffee, flipping a page of my book, aimlessly, while staring across the hall to the guy seated on the other table. His back was turned to me, but I could recognize him from anywhere. How many years had it been to that day…? four…no five. I didn’t quite remember, but what I did remember was, that we had somehow stopped talking.
I pulled the book, to half cover my face, when he started leaving. He shouldn’t see me, I thought. Everything in my life was going all fine, and I was loving spending my evenings at this café, until about two days ago, when out of the blue, he showed up at my favorite haunt. I shouldn’t be surprised, I thought. He loved surprising me, back then too. The issue wasn’t that I was being thrown into a whirlpool of memories. I had never managed to get out of the clutches of nostalgia that broke my heart every day. The issue was, that he was, here again, to ruin the tranquil of my so-called life.
A weird question kept haunting me since the day, he walked into the café again, ‘Who’s fault was it that we stopped talking altogether?’ Maybe, it was mine. Maybe, I shouldn’t have stopped talking. Maybe, I shouldn’t have caught feelings for him. Maybe, if I had the guts to catch feelings, I should have had the guts to tell him too. Instead, I just ghosted him. Why did I ghost him? Was it because I couldn’t stand his casual flirting anymore? Was it because I knew I wanted something that could never happen? Or was it because he kept making my hopes rise and then shattering them again and again? Amidst all these ifs, buts, and maybes, one answer which made sense was, that I had been selfish.
I got up to leave and headed at the reception to pay the bill when the receptionist spoke to me, ‘That customer who left before you, left this book and asked this to be given to you.’ I was at a loss of words, but took the book, nevertheless. It was ‘The Zahir’ written by Paulo Coelho. An author we both liked immensely. Zahir, in Arabic, means visible, present, incapable of going unnoticed. It is someone or something which, once we have come into contact with them or it, gradually occupies our every thought, until we can think of nothing else. So, was I his Zahir, or was he mine? Did he remember me, still? Had he recognized me so easily? As I closed the door of the café behind me, I was filled with way more questions.
‘I still like orange juice better.’ His voice spoke up from behind me, as if in answer to my questions. I turned around to find him there on the sidewalk beside me. ‘I didn’t know how you would have reacted if I had talked to you there inside the café. I was sure, that the girl I used to know, wouldn’t be rude or impolite. But you have quite surprised me in the past.’ He spoke with the same twinkle in his eye.
‘I see, you are still a fan of monologues.’ I said. ‘You can take your book.’ I handed it to him and walked on. ‘Am I getting ghosted again?’ he shouted from where I had left him. I turned. ‘Am I not even worth a reason?’ he asked, looking hurt. But, knowing him, as I did, I couldn’t trust him. I could never tell when he was serious. I know I was being harsh on him, and this was very contrary to my nature. But I could not forget all the nights that I cried. ‘Sorry’ I whispered, as I resumed my walking, never to look back again.