It was one of those times when I first fell in love with a stranger. Why do we usually fall in love with a stranger knowing that we don’t know anything about them yet we have some sort of connection, that somehow, somewhere, we knew each other from the past, perhaps not in this life but in the previous one or the one before that.
But when I saw her from the corner of the room, I knew I never wanted to see, to touch, to feel, to caress, to kiss someone else. For In a single second when I looked at her, there seemed to be many days. But I never had the courage to tell her just how I feel. But I hope someday she’ll realize what she really means to me. I sometimes dream of her, I remember one vivid dream, and I can’t hold this only to myself. I’ve been holding it since the school days and every day after that dream when I looked at her It was a sheer torture, like someone consistently stabbing a burning knife on my blooded healing wound. The wound was Her.
It was one of those purplish nights which don’t exist in real life, where the atmosphere was filled with the newly Spring bloom flavor. The trees were shedding their dying leaves but strange thing was, before the rusted yellow leaf could fall to the ground, it was reborn again into a new green life breathing leaf. Her eyes radiant grey, her lips starch blood rose, Her hair were autumn, consistently filling my cup of wine, you could just lose yourself in them.
She was standing outside my friend’s and my apartment with her friend who was my roommate girlfriend. They honked the car for the fifth time in two minutes when we finally went down to the street. I hurriedly went to Her and before her gibberish started, hugged her so tightly, she struggled to take me off from her, but I kept repeating sorry over and over again until she melted like snow in my arms. I can never forget that hug in my life. It was that moment that we shared and that will last till the last time. It was the kind of hug that a man can have only once or twice in his’ lifetime if he’s lucky enough to love someone he’s meant or destined to love. Sometimes it takes a man his whole life to learn how to love. Pity!
I hopped in the front seat with her and we went to a restaurant for dinner. Well, one wouldn’t call it a restaurant because it wasn’t one of those places where you park your car in the massive parking lot, and then you walk to the entrance where the waiter would already be waiting for you to take you to your table, and after that he would give each of you your menu and you’ll talk happily with all smiley fake faces until the sizzling food arrives. But what they’d really be looking for is visibility, attention, and praise. You’ll look around you, everyone having a good time. So, you’ll feel comfortable and perhaps have a good time too, or pretend to have a good time. Then you’ll pay the bill and go home. That’s it. Dinner is over. Night well spent. So is your life. Now back to your routine life which you despise from your guts. Period.
But where we actually went wasn’t considered a typical restaurant rather it was a market where there were several hotels, restaurants, fruit vendors, ice cream parlors, people selling clothes, hats, gool gappays, fruit chat stalls, coffee machine on the edge of the road, chai stalls, well it’s a mixture of everything in that small everything in a narrow long road.
Her parked the car outside that long narrow road alongside some houses, and hurriedly locked the car and came sheepishly out of it before someone could see us and stop us because the place where we parked wasn’t exactly the place where one should park, in front of somebody’s house. But she did it nonetheless because it wasn’t some kind of a restaurant where you were going to have dinner.
We walked past through several shops, shop owners, waiters calling you towards them but we struggled our way through them and stopped in front of a shop where the Pathan, probably the shop owner, selling unstitched clothes, saw our faces with strange eyes. She, leading the way, whispered something in his ear and he made the way for us to enter the shop and opened the backdoor of the shop that opened up to narrow stairs that took us to the upper floor of the same clothing shop.
The narrow stairs opened to a very small room with a low roof. We all had to bend our necks and wade our way to sit on one of the four candle lit tables. There were speakers in the corners of the small room, and all the four irregular and unequal walls were adorned with abstract gothic paintings, sketches, wallpapers, posters, that would at first scare the shit out of you. The most horrific and peculiar thing about all the paintings was, the eyes in some of the paintings were colored black, like someone didn’t like them and as a punishment painted them dark, blinded the people in them, only if one could call them people.
The room smelled of cigarettes, sheesha, weed, and all those drugs that we had never heard of. The tiled floor was broken in many places, and it was crooked a little and you’d think that you have entered some irregular gravity place, some fourth dimension. But there was one thing that caught my eye- a big window on the roof of the small room, from where I could see the purple sky, the Stars walking backwards, plane looking like an ant creeping high above leaving white trails illuminating in the dark
And then the owner himself did all the waitering, clearing the table, cooking, serving, playing our favorite songs, and taking our bill. Yes, that’s the kind of an unorthodox “restaurant” where we went. Once we entered its premises, we got out of the dimensions of time and space.
The “restaurant” served only one dish and it was called “Mantu” a special dish from the valley of Swat, as the owner explained. Its outer shape was like an oyster but the meat was enclosed in the elastic soft steamed dough. It was sour, spicy, and sticky.
After Mantu, we all smoked cigarettes, which the owner of Mantu gave us on our way out as though they were free with the meal, went to the beach on the seashore. We dropped our shoes in the car and took a long walk. After going really far from the car we lay down, my friend and his girlfriend started walking towards the water, playing with the tides. I placed my head on her thighs, and we softly whispered to each other. I don’t remember what we talked about or where did both of our friends went after that. It wasn’t that dark as the light of the moon was kissing the soft tides of water and reflected such beauty in her eyes that amazed me, it was a trance where I couldn’t look anywhere else other than Her grey eyes speaking of romance.
All I remember is that I was looking in her eyes as she was gently stroking my hair. She was gently whispering near my ear, heat of our faces reaching each others’ lips, and some mysterious force attracted us towards each other as though she was the moon and I was the water, our breaths colliding each other in the small space between our trembling lips speaking of unspeakable words. As our lips collided in each other’s embrace, everything froze; the tides didn’t make any sound, the nightingales quite, the sand wet, the heart beat stopped. Strange things happen when fire meets water.
Suddenly the thunder roared in the distance and a hard drizzle beating against my window. Has winter really arrived? There was a tear in my eye. My heart beat faster and louder than the road thunder, my forehead sweaty, my breath hollow, my hands cold. I lay awake staring at the ceiling afraid of looking anywhere else. Afraid of proving wrong what I fear the most. Now I have to realize that those days are gone and I have to come back to reality, no matter how much I hate it. Suddenly I was all alone in this all wild brute world. I was drowning in this thunderous rain. With each soaking tear the pieces were falling apart. A pit of loneliness. A prison. My world collapsing in front of my eyes and I could do nothing other than see it helplessly turn to dust and ash.
I became lost in thoughts and carried myself away in the hurricane of this passion. The more I thought the more I fell deeper in the void black hole. Why does God give us hope and dream if I the end He takes it away? Are we just born to helplessly give everything that we have all away? What does He get from hearing all those suffering voices, don’t He get tired, or does it make Him feel superior? If He wants to take away anything then take this brutal life that He makes miserable and full of torture. I’m a pathetic and disgusting creature. I feel nothing. A trance of Godlessness.
The thundering roar and the hurricane of rain became quiet. A warm hand silently brushing my hair went to my eyes, and held the tear in the life-giving hand. As I followed the hand, there, right beside me, behind the cloud of fog, two moon reflecting grey eyes wet with tears speaking of love- it was Her. As though she knew what I saw or felt. She understood me. She didn’t need words or deeds to express what I felt rather she spoke the same language that everyone in this world is capable of speaking, that makes us understand everything that happens all around us, the same language that is spoken in every part of the world, that same language that brings us together in times of despair and loneliness, it was Love. I didn’t know whether the dream was slipping into reality or reality was slipping into my dream. Dream- such a fancy enthusiastic passion. I knew I had to pay a high price for it. But it never cost me as much as those who didn’t live. And I did the only thing I thought I’d never be able to do again, I hugged her.