Curiosity and Fate

Aisha was passing by Tahlia Street and her brother was reminded of the list of groceries he had to purchase. It was 7:45 pm, almost nearing Isha time; the shops would soon be closed for prayers.

“Wait in the car, I’ll be back soon before the Isha azaan,” said Aisha’s brother.

She sat in the car, while her brother went into the supermarket to purchase the groceries. The car was parked a little away from the supermarket, in front of the fancy diner, “Uptown”. Waiting was always hard, and somehow, when you were waiting in a car, time seemed to pass by even more slowly. She liked the fact that the diner was completely showcased with glass. The architect must have put considerable thought in the fact that people loved intruding into someone else’s privacy, she thought.  People were, after all, filled with curiosity. They had an inbuilt ability to observe others and their actions.

Time was passing by at a snail’s pace. Aisha aimlessly looked around and noticed two men sitting in the corner booth, facing each other. She could only see one of the two men clearly while she could view the back and the slight silhouette of the other. The man she set her eyes on seemed attractive, a man in his twenties probably. Twenty three to twenty six maybe...He was wearing a red t-shirt and appeared to have distinct Middle Eastern features. His hair was dark brown and curly. His complexion fair, and from the distance, you could tell his eyes were coloured green. He looked Lebanese and this probably meant they were conversing in Arabic. At least that is what she perceived. 

The two men were sipping on their cocktails while they conversed intensely. They spoke in English, with a tinge of their Arabic accent. The man in red was a Lebanese man in his beginning twenties.  His name was quite the typical one, Mohammed Ramsey.  The silhouette that sat across him was his good old Palestinian friend.  They had met after a long while and instantly decided to catch up on a meal. They were now catching up on stories, work, politics and everything in between.

“So, these Israelis, are they ever going to leave your land, will they ever?”

“I don’t know, Ramsey. It’s up to Allah. Besides, it’s all a play of histories, baseless conflicts and their vacillating ego clashes.”

“Yes, but aren’t you enraged with the constant fights and wars between them two? How can you possibly be so calm about it, it’s been years. I can’t imagine being calm if something like this were happening in Lebanon.”  said Ramsey in a quick and riled manner.

“What good would it be, to be angry about something taking place miles away from me? I am saddened by what’s happening but I believe it’s the nimat of Allah in everything.”

Nimat of Allah? Ahaha, I don’t see any good in this, bro. You’re a strange one. ” Ramsey laughed a little as he said so.

“I didn’t say it was good. ‘Blessing’ and ‘Good’ are two separate words and they mean different.”  As usual, he was always precise with words.

“So you’re just going to say Insha’Allah like always, yeah?” Ramsey joked at his friend’s strange belief.

“Hahaha, Insha’Allah. Who knows what’s written in his decree? Insha’Allah it will all end well.” he smiled like a Cheshire cat as he said so.

“Ah, all these talk shows and conferences that you do; they really have got to you, haven’t they? I’m quite overwhelmed I must say, by your constant faith in God and in what you call destiny, I’m sorry, the “Decree of Allah” he bantered again.

Aisha intensely observed their unheard conversation they seemed to be having. The varied expressions, nods, sudden smiles and perceived laughter. She felt like an intruder into their preoccupied world but, something pulled her towards this irresistible urge. Not the urge to listen to their unheard words, but the urge to see the silhouette in clarity and light, to have a look at this lurking someone.

Was it the way he seemed to be dressed in semi formals? A dark shirt with rolled up sleeves was what she could see. Semi formals always seemed attractive to her. Or was it just the curiosity of wanting to know something you couldn’t see? 
She continued to observe as their food was served and their conversation lessened. ‘Men are known to be genuinely involved with their food, aren’t they?’ she thought, as their conversation perceived faded from the distance she was within. The urge, the compelling curiosity gradually grew to its peak. She felt the strong impulse of going inside “Uptown” herself. Apart from the fact that it was one of her favourite places, there was something else that was drawing her there tonight.

It was minutes past eight and she was pulled out of her reverie by the sound of the car being unlocked. Her brother opened the door in a rush, put in the groceries at the back seat and was just about to start the car.

“Wait, can we just stay for a while and eat here? I’m hungry,” she blurted out. “But people are waiting for us at home,” he replied hesitatingly.

“It’s alright, its way past prayer time anyway. Dad must have gone to the mosque already. So, we can quickly grab a bite here,” she insisted.
  “Umm, okay. Since my stomach is growling, and you’re so keen, let’s grab a quick bite.”  He finally agreed

They quickly got out of the car. The azaan was called upon as they got through the entrance of Uptown.

She chose to take a seat close enough. Trying not to make it seem obvious, she took her seat and attempted to behave as normally as she would, if she were there to eat alone. Soon enough, her eyes glanced through to the table that drew her there. She didn’t quite know how to react, with her brother facing her. She looked at the man in the black shirt. He was fair skinned with a few days’ stubble. His eyes were dark brown and his hair was short and straight. He was engrossed into his food, until he looked around for a fraction of a minute. His eyes coincidentally glanced back at hers as she tried to avoid any sort of eye contact. Fortunately, if one may say, she failed to do so. She guided her eyes for a second glance and it turned out he was still looking. He smiled faintly as she did the same, shyly.  “He recognizes me.” she thought to herself.

The man in black was Omar. A charismatic man Aisha had met at a conference last year. He was one of the speakers who spoke about the ‘Decree of God’ He was pretty attractive, not because of his stubble and dimpled smile, but because of his intelligence, sensibility, and his way with words. His seemingly modest personality was what made him so admirable. He seemed mysterious and soft spoken, but so confident within. He spoke about how some things were out of our control, and some direct consequences of our choices. She never really understood or agreed with it completely. How could anything be out of our control? She was almost sure that everything was a result of choices – good or bad.  She had walked up to him to clarify the apprehensions of her thoughts versus his words.   However, she had only begun and she was already rushed to leave. Apart from first names and smiles, nothing was exchanged between the two. Fate was so cruel that day, she had concluded.

A year had passed since the conference. Tonight, they sat there exchanging glances. They seemed to have a connection, a look that somehow only they could comprehend. They were waiting for a chance, a chance to speak again. A chance to exchange something more than just a smile. Omar ate faster now. There were words waiting to be spoken and heard.  Aisha smiled to herself and thought; some things were out of control after all. She could now manage to understand the relevance of his speech, and the truth behind it.  ‘But, isn’t it also my decision to come here that led to this moment?’ Her thoughts argued. He pushed back his chair, and began walking towards her table. She smiled nervously and thought; Fate is being so kind today.

 P.S: Written for a specific purpose. I was given a few specifics, which is what guided me to write this story. 

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AVY said...

You did very well in that short period of time.


Huda Merchant said...

Thank you :')

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