“It’s only a three-hour hike. Come on, it’s going to be easy,” she mimicked his voice when they were already walking for two hours up a steep hill with fallen moist leaves making the path slippery.
“Well, if I had told you it would have been this adventurous, you wouldn’t have joined. Plus, what’s the fun in it all being smooth? Ordinary is boring.” This last line was sort of his mantra. But it was also what made him so lovable among groups. He would constantly find something extraordinary to engage it and, most of all, to never give up.
Pictures tell stories. That’s why we often take so many of them. Because we try to capture the sentiment of the moment with each click. The happiness, the wonder, the amazement, the company, the love.
Drawings demonstrate our inner feelings. What we usually hide even from ourselves. They’re an expression of what our mind does not speak. That’s why they are sometimes so abstract; they reflect the chaos in our hearts and heads.
Graffiti can be works of art too. They make even the ugliest of buildings seem beautiful. Because everything can have a pretty side if someone reveals it.
“People actually live in boats, you know. They’re like floating houses. Literally.”
“Why would anyone do that?” she asked inquisitively.
“Because it allows them the freedom to be anywhere at any time. They’re not bound to anything and can roam around freely as they wish; stay as long or as little as they like and move about without the commitments of a rooted house.”
“Yes, but that means they have nowhere to return to, or somewhere to call home.”
“Perhaps. Or they have everywhere to call home. The entire world for them is a borderless adventure waiting to be experienced.
It was during that first visit together to some ancient ruins that he felt she was changing his life. She had already known it when she randomly accepted to go on a trip with him without even knowing his last name.
But it’s the spontaneity that brings out the truest version of you; they both believed that.
It was one of the most memorable trips they had experienced.
It was what started it all.
And it was what he recalled months later when he finally understood her warning that what he wouldn’t appreciate, someone else would cherish and value more.
It was among the things her psychotherapist proposed to help her find herself again. She had been down a very silent, dark and unnerving path for too long, she was now struggling to find the light. And she could use all the help she could get.
He had drifted away because it was too much to handle. But he could now see that she was trying her best.
He left her a note on the front door that prompted her to the backyard.
The violin was there: sitting majestically on the garden chair. Uniquely crafted. Just like her.
He knew he wouldn’t live long enough to offer her everything she merited. Even if she didn’t voice it at first, he could sense it that she would soon grow to silently request more from him. More attention, more experiences, more laughter, more love, more life, more time.
But he had none to give.
Some meetings in life are just meant to happen. They all have something to teach you, but not all have happy endings. Some simply serve to make us stronger and more resilient to life’s challenges. He knew that when he was diagnosed with an incurable illness that pretty much ended life as he knew it. It all seemed like a morbid countdown after that moment. So, he vowed not to fall in love. It would not be fair to the other person if they reciprocated that love to him.
But we don’t always get what we want.
She captured his gaze from the minute her eyes fell upon his. Her bright smile made his heart flutter and he knew in an instant that his own vow was broken.
As much as he tried to stay away, he just couldn’t. He was drawn to her like bees to a flower. But she too loved spending time with him. He made her laugh and she was all the happier for it. And in return she made him feel alive.
When she started dreaming of a future life together, he broke. Because he knew he couldn’t offer her any of it. But how do you tell someone that?
As hard as it was, he became distant. He would inadvertently hurt her no matter what he said. The day he felt it was over, that the sand in the hourglass had run out, he poured out his emotions in a letter soaked in his tears.
Life is cruel at times. It presents you with people and things that imbue life inside you and then in a sudden instant takes it all away. Meeting you was the most wonderful part of my short-lived life. I wish I had more time to give you the world you are worth, to make it all work like I promised, to fulfil the visions and dreams that are now left hanging. I want to say I’m so deeply sorry, but I am not to blame for the cards fate dealt me, only the fact that I pulled you close to me despite knowing that I had no time left. I’m grateful for every moment I spent with you. I wish you continue to radiate beauty into this harsh world and deeply hope you will find everything you seek and so deserve. In another life, we would have had every single thing we dreamt of and so much more…
“Well, that’s better than if you’ve never tried at all.” She laughed and her smile spread wide across her face.
“The only way you’ll change something is if you take the risk and do something you’ve never done before.
Keep in mind that sometimes, to go from a bad place to a better place we need to go through a worse place. It’s a paradox, but see it as a necessary evil. If you don’t fall flat on your face, you won’t know what it feels like if you fail. Once you learn that, you’ll be more determined to succeed and…well, fly! Make sense?”
He was timid. But perhaps that was the problem to begin with. He hadn’t developed enough confidence to cope with this world. Often, we need to suffer, to crash and fall, in order to get up stronger, wiser and more stubborn to make things work.
It was in that alley I realised I knew. And I told you too. When you asked me how I knew I loved you, I told you it was because I couldn’t remember what my life was like without you. Before you.
When you became a part of my world, you changed it intrinsically. I couldn’t recall what it was like without your long late-night calls, your random texts during the day to check up on me, our inside jokes, those silent looks that said everything, and so much more that made us ‘us’.
“What’s this?” a little girl with chestnut pigtails inquisitively asked as her gaze fell eye level on a small table with an antique phone displayed on it.
“Well, that is a telephone,” her grandmother explained. “It is what we used to call each other at home before we had mobile phones.”
The young one looked perplexed.
“How?” she asked.
“You would pick up the receiver, place it by your ear and mouth, and then dial the number you wanted to call by using this,” the older woman demonstrated.
The little girl seemed amazed.
“Back then, when you didn’t want to speak to someone, you just told someone else to say you weren’t home. Now, with these phones constantly strapped to our hands, the first thing anyone asks when they call is not if you’re OK, but rather ‘where are you’?”, the woman ranted on a bit.