Bittersweet

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Guest author, Mariam Jaani

After three months, I thought I was over her. I thought she has no effect on me anymore. I thought my wounds have already healed until now. I cannot explain how I feel. I feel fear and relief, anger and joy, love and a little bit of hatred for no one in particular. I did not think I will be meeting her anytime soon. It feels so good seeing her face again, but it has revived my pain. After being anti-social more than usual, I finally decided to blend in again. Little did I know, on the day I decide to celebrate my liberation, I will run in to the face I have been running away from. Surprisingly, she was walking closer and closer towards me. That just made me freeze.

Anna: “Hey.” Hearing her voice again and seeing her smile made me relive every single pain and joy our short-lived relationship gave me. It all just came back. Actually, I thought she would be angry at me for leaving her high and dry after writing me a letter, but the smile on her face says otherwise.
Anna: “Well I do not forget faces, Talib. It’s Anna. At least you have heard my voice so many times. You should know it’s me.”
How can I forget the voice and face I have been struggling to not think about? What I do not get is why she is acting like this. She did not try to hide from me like I was planning to and she is acting like we are actually friends!
Talib: “Of course I know it’s you, Anna.”
Anna: “Well I had a feeling we will meet again someday, but I never for once thought it would be at a party. I never thought you are the party type.”
Talib: “Never heard the saying don’t judge the book by the cover?’
Anna: “Well sometimes or most of the times, the cover tells us a lot about the book. So that saying is just vague.”
Talib: “There’s a lot you do not know about me.”
Anna: “I think I am better off knowing less.”
Talib: “Well I had to come to Haddy’s birthday. She didn’t make it sound like I had a choice. We used to be neighbours for so many years. We were also classmates till the ninth grade.”
Anna: “I wonder why we never met. Haddy is my cousin. This is my grandmother’s house.”
Talib: “Everyone sure knows everyone in The Gambia.”
Anna: “Oh, I see. You read my letter.”
Talib: “Well the letter said it was for me.”
Silence. I am pretty sure none of us knew what to say next. I was trying to avoid looking at her, but I could not help but notice how her beautiful dark skin was glowing.
Anna: “Have you seen Haddy?”
Talib: “Yeah I already have. I was actually on my way out. I already said goodbye to her.”
Anna: “The party has not even started yet.”
Talib: “I have work tomorrow. I think I will stick around for like ten minutes.”
Anna: “I think I need a ten minute break from all of this too. I cannot stand Haddy’s friends. Do you want to go outside?”
Talib: “Well I never thought you dislike people?”
Anna: “There’s a lot you still don’t know about me.”
Anna’s acting weird. Very weird. I did not expect our first meeting after our fight to go down like this. I thought it would be one of those encounters she would slap me or hit me with her shoe and call me all types of names, but none of that is happening. Not yet.
Talib: “Anna, I have to be honest. I am not very comfortable with this. I don’t think I can act like we are good.”
Anna: “You want me to punch you in the face or hold a gun to your head if I had one? Tell me. I can do that too.”
Talib: “I am serious. I know you do not want to talk about what happened. I definitely don’t want to talk about it, but unlike you, I just cannot ignore the fact that something happened.”
Anna: “We used to be friends. Even though it lasted for like a week or less, we were friends. I know we are not friends anymore and we will never be, but I don’t want to be your enemy. Trust me, you wouldn’t like that. I am not ignoring the fact that something happened. Unlike you, I don’t want to hold on to it to the point that it breaks me.”
Talib: “I left because I did not want to fight for what wasn’t and will never be mine because I would not want someone taking what’s mine.”
Anna: “You know in this world, nothing is really ours. One day, some stranger who might be an idiot by the way would take me away from my parents. A lot of rights they have upon me will be snatched away from them. Here is another example. At workplaces, even though we sometimes know the position we want is occupied by someone else, we work so hard to get a promotion. Want another example?
Talib: “No, thanks. You do not have to do that to make me get your point.”
Anna: “Okay, point is, I do not believe in ownership. Not in this world. I am not a very big football fan, but let’s say this world is a football pitch and all of us are players. No matter how good you are at controlling the ball, you are bound to lose control at some point. Either you do not know how to control it at all, it gets snatched from you or you let it go.”
Talib: “Precisely what I did. I let my ball go. I think I have moved on. I wish you all the best with…”
Anna: “Harun. His name is Harun. Well things aren’t going very well between us and it’s partly your fault.”
Talib: “Me? That’s why I left. I am not to blame. What happened?”
Anna: “Never mind. God! We have been out here for so long. I know you have to leave now, but before you leave, I think you have to try something I made. It’s just lemonade. Well, it’s the first time I have made it, but I made it. I think you should try it. You know we probably might never see each other ever again.”
Talib: “Okay.”
In all honesty, after trying so hard to forget Anna, this is the best therapy I have had. Even though seeing her again hurts, especially knowing none of us seem ready to take our decisions back, I felt like I got a weight off my shoulders. I think I am happy. I am happy she is not still mad, even though we will never be friends. I am happy I got to hear her voice again, even though this might be the last.
My thoughts were suddenly downed by screams. People were coming out from the house. I do not know how it happened, but the house caught fire. I am not sure if everyone is out of the house, but I am sure Anna is still inside because I could not make her out in the crowd.

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