Return – Chapter 6

When we were young, my cousins and I played trump cards. The secret to winning it was to know all the statistics of all the players, so that you could guess which one you might be facing right then. Life was so much like that game. All you needed to succeed in it was to know everything. Only, it was difficult; probably impossible. I had decided to play against the odds. The twenty-third of April of 2014, six years from that devastating day. I had decided to repeat what I had done, and to play against what might seem normal to the others. As the sun set behind us, we walked on the beach, naked feet, sand seeping in between our fingers and seeping out with the water. We saw the tide come in, and we saw the full moon. It seemed the perfect time to tell her this. I realized I did want her to know it.

“I love you Shaena.”

“Are you serious?” she asked. Only this time her expressions were totally different. She was not shocked, like she had been before. But she was not happy. It was plain, right there on her face. She could not do it. She did not want to take the risk. She was afraid. And honestly, so was I. Sometimes we expect too much out of our petty lives. We forget the boundaries that do exist and try to see beyond the reality and beyond the limitations that have been imposed on us. I knew this was not the best step that I could take. The best step would obviously be going back to Irtiqa first. She deserved to know about this. She had a right. By not telling her, I was plainly snatching her rights. But at that moment, everything seemed unimportant. Everything seemed to come to a standstill, and the only thing I was waiting for was to hear her speak.

A cold breeze was blowing today. It would probably start raining in a while. I could see the clouds gathering over what was a starry night. The grey clouds against the black sky seemed like foam upon water in the dark. It reminded me of the first time I had smoked. The sky was black that day too, and I was awake the entire night. Sometimes, when we look into the past, all we want to do is undo actions, redo scenes, change our dialogues, as if our entire past was but a play, which could have been so much better had we tried. My friend had once said, “Just live. Don’t spend time thinking about what you are doing. You will have enough time later to sit and ponder over it.” And in fact it was so true. Looking back, I had never actually given much thought to my present. I was always locked up in the past, forgetting to live the present. It was a constant conflict between me and myself, a never-ending struggle, trying to get out of the past, but it kept pulling me in, much like a whirlpool.

My thoughts wandered back to an evening with Irtiqa when we were sitting at a café. My mood had been pretty much off after a heated argument with my mother, and the only thing that I wanted was silence, and a hot cup of coffee. I did not know she knew I was upset. I later realized she always knew everything. That was the problem with her. She was very intelligent. I did not have to tell her anything. She always understood. Sometimes I wished I could hide things from her. Most importantly, my feelings for her. But it was all in vain. Before I knew, she knew everything. But she never reacted. She was a calm person, a veteran to say, and she did not care much either. As I bought the cup of coffee, I noticed a smiley made with cream. Small things. She always believed small gestures were the most effective. She would never profess anything, only show small gestures. Perhaps that was also a main reason why I was misled. Sometimes she did things just for the sake of friendship, without expecting anything in return, without expecting one to know that she was the one who had done it. I stumbled upon a rock and came back to the present. Shaena’s eyes were fixated at me.

She looked at me, teary-eyed. “I cannot do this,” she said.

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