“I look like a five year old boy. Sorry about that.”
When she arrived in an orange sweater, khaki shorts and slippers, he laughed. His sons were seven and four. “You have a pretty decent fashion sense,” he quipped.
“Yeah? Ok, maybe twelve then,” she laughed.
The last time they met, she suggested that they could meet every two weeks or so. Yet, it had been nearly a month and a half since.
They chatted over lunch. He had basil chicken – or was it chicken basil? – while she, not feeling too hungry, opted for some cheese sticks and mushroom soup, laughing at the choice. She found humour in having just ordered what a twelve year old would probably have ordered. In spite of the jokes about her age, and the fact that he was fifteen years older, they enjoyed each other’s company, talking about poetry and Islam, about their thoughts on love and commitment, about the idea of memory and loss, about pain and other seemingly random things.
In between mouthfuls of cold spaghetti, he indulged himself in recounting his experiences in past relationships, disguised as he confessed, under the guise enlightening a younger soul, on the complexities of love and commitment. She saw through it of course. She was as intelligent as she was attractive, and as she admitted, emotionally and intellectually matured.
Years ago as an assignment for his literature class, she brought a poem to his attention. Truth be told, he wasn’t that good as a literature teacher. He was grossly under-exposed to poetry, and most times never knew exactly what he was teaching. Even as his student, he always felt she knew more about poetry than he did. She was gifted, with words, expression and feeling. He never knew, or will know how hard she tries, but in writing, she always seemed to do it effortlessly.
If the boy who draws
lets you look over his shoulder.
If the poet
and shows you her words.
If the girl who sings for the shower only,
hums a song
in front of you.
Know that you’re no longer a person
but the air
that fills their lungs.
When the world perishes,
and all things cease to exist,
you’ll remain inside an ink stain,
a paint brush,
He took out his own writing, the one that he had written under thirty minutes in a dash of inspiration. Feeling eager but equally nervous, he wonders if she remembered that poem she submitted to him all those years ago.