Monday, June 13, 2005

Happenstance 2

The café looked quite the same, with the hum, aroma, and haze in its three chambers. The outside chamber, the façade, was the place where coffee-lovers came, sat, read, drank their cups and left. Then there was the lounge, with its sofas and board games. People came there to have a nice time. It had to be there because the inner “real room” was so different a world from the outer façade, there had to be a buffer – you could not just walk from the north pole, cross a door, and enter the south. The third, core chamber, was the frequented by people addicted to the bitter, tangy taste of life. This was the only smoking chamber. He had seen a wide range of people there – half-mad men from a mental home in the neighbourhood, bikers from faraway places, foreign students who had not been home in six years, couples that liked to bite each other, normal looking people with destabilised insides like him, and a woman lighting a cigarette, whose face he did not remember.

Now he realised that all he had noticed about her was the tilt of her head, the shade of her hair that fell across her face, the shape of her fingers and nothing else. The café owner would really know her better than he would.

So he sat in a daze, his infusion getting cold, scanning the faces around in search of the face he thought he knew by heart but in reality had no clue of.

Then the girl, right next to him, took out a cigarette from her packet, put it to her lips, searched her bag, tilted her head to him with her hair falling across, held out a hand with the fingers he knew so well and asked whether he had a lighter.

He took out his lighter, flicked it on, and as he was reaching towards her with the little flame – unable to believe what he saw or did – a mad desire swept across his whole being: he wanted to put fire to her hair that fell across her face, to her face that held her firefly eyes, to her eyes that pierced his being and knew his secret instantly. He wanted this moment to go up in flames, so that there is nothing after it.