The seat by the window

It was meant to be a normal day. Although, in retrospect, there was a nagging feeling in the back of my mind, trying to get my attention. You see, this was the last day of our end of year exams. All I had in my to do list was to go to the library, read a little bit and go home. My classmates had orals to go through, and I didn’t envy them at all. Sitting in front of a lecturer (who in all likelihood would be a professor), and having to answer questions on a subject you did not particularly like can be a frightening prospect.

Since it was the last day of the exam period, it meant that the next time I’d see most of my classmates would be in September. Four months later.

I got a seat next to the window in the Library, overlooking a garden with seats where tired (and often hungry) students usually sit to catch their breath and relax before going on with the drudgery that is school. I could see one of my classmates, seriously going through her notes, hoping that whatever she was reading could prove to be of use to her in the lecturer’s office. I powered up my laptop.

In that brief period of time, when my mind was temporarily unoccupied, waiting for the laptop to finish booting up, the thought that had been clamoring for attention at the back of my mind finally broke through the white noise and had its day in the sun: I had to see her one last time.

It has been almost two years since I first saw her. And what a ride it has been. Looking back, I feel pity for the boy who felt the stirrings of emotion within him and acted impulsively. I can see the foolishness, the naivety that that young boy had, the hope that everything would always go the way he wanted it to.

But the thought persisted,and the more I thought about it, the more powerful the thought became, and I never noticed that the laptop was ready for use until the screen dimmed and the screensaver kicked in.

The difference between the boy seated by the window and the boy who was two years ago (well, almost) is that the boy seated by the window has grown to master his emotions. He has spent a lot of time learning how to listen to his emotions, but not to be completely overwhelmed by them. He has seen the enormity of the task that lies before him. He has seen how deeply flawed he is, and by extension, how deeply flawed others must be. And this, he believes, makes all the difference.

I managed to push the thought back into the shadowy recesses from whence it came. And I was able to continue with my work for the better part of five minutes. It was then that I felt that odd silence in my inner self that signifies satisfaction. I’ve felt that odd silence many times before, and I knew what it meant. I looked out of the window, and sure enough there she was. The seat that only had one person now had two.

There was no painful tug in my chest. I had, to some extent, expected this to happen. The conditions were just right. Last day, strong urge to see her…The universe would have felt obliged to fulfill my wishful thinking. I felt a mixture of emotion looking at her, oblivious of the fact that there was someone literally watching from above, curious and very interested in what she was doing.

I watched her look around. I watched her eat. But not for too long. I didn’t want to feel like I was intruding, invading another’s privacy. There was nothing private about watching her sitting in the garden, but it felt that way to me.

I could see she was in her exam mode, looking up in the air at intervals, trying to remember something that she had read somewhere. She was in her element (or so I surmised), preparing for that moment when she would be required to have all that information at her fingertips.

I felt that yearning to know a little more about her. I felt the urge of getting to know if she was as flawed as I was. But the resistance I had met time and time again had finally gotten to me. I had no more fight left in me. I couldn’t impose my presence on someone who did not want me to be near them.

I had already processed the pain, so this time I barely felt anything. I got back to my work, glad I had seen her one last time. I didn’t have a clue as to what would happen in the next four months. Perhaps that was the last time I would see her for a very long time. Perhaps not.



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