Drop That Spilled the Ocean
By Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander
“One Latte & one Caramel Frappe please,” Zakvim asked the barista on the other side of the counter while handing him his credit card. He had a glee in his eyes and a visible smile on the corner of his lips. Moving to the edge of the counter, patiently awaiting the drinks, he stood amused by the delightful aroma of coffee beans filling the air. Putting aside his love and appreciation for the ancient drink with a glorious past, he turned to Haxona and asked her how she was doing.
“I am fine as usual, I guess,” she replied while he couldn’t stop noticing that Haxona today looked prettier than usual. Perhaps it was the red band around her hair or those piercing eyes. Either way Zakvim seemed elated. The coffee arrived and they moved up to the terrace, of which the café boasted, to catch some glimpses of Istanbul - the city of endurance, only to find it full; a little inconvenient.
Moving exactly one floor down, two solitary chairs of red and blue stood next to each other, welcoming them with open arms. Taking the blue one, Zakvim offered the red seat to Haxona thinking it as a good omen for the colour of the seat coincided with her hair band.
Sitting down, knowing the essence of the limited time, Zakvim without losing any of it began carrying forward the initial conversation, the one thing he was known and popular for – words and sustaining conversations.
“So how’s the school and studies, Haxona?”
“Well, you know I have been missing classes lately and forgetting things a lot. Lazy, too much sleep. Not doing much actually. And how about you?”
“It all points to one thing”, Zakvim said with a sarcastic smile.
“And what’s that?” she asked amusingly.
“Our beloved Haxona is in love.”
“What??? No. Don’t be cheeky. I know I am not. C’mon you know me. I told you.”
“Denial is the clincher.”
“Don’t push it, please. Life’s just been too much lately, I think. It is just the stress, it's going to be ok.”
“As you say, I’ll take your word for it.”
“Anyways, tell me about you. It’s been a while. What’s up with you lately?” she asked.
“Well, a lot actually. You see I have been writing and reading, attending Turkish language classes and roaming around Istanbul. I am preparing for an upcoming lecture. I’ll be talking to university students about life and meaningfulness. Also, since we met last there have been developments on the projects we are handling in the Far East. There is an upcoming project in Sri Lanka for children of conflict and I also might be doing some projects in Indonesia this summer apart from finishing the remainder of my book, before I send it for publication. So yeah, it’s been quite busy lately.”
“Superb, I am proud of you. It’s a lot on your plate. But I am asking how you are in an emotional sense?” she said, exercising a caution in her tone.
An eerie silence followed. He had seen it coming. Haxona sensed the gloom in Zakvim’s eyes. And then he began,
“Well, you see life is about a lot of things. More than happiness, it is about purpose and meaning. We find it in different things and the point is we cannot always have it all, that too in our way. Yes, I miss her every day and every moment and it might be like this forever. But people come in our lives with high expectations. I cannot let anyone down just because inside I am broken. I have to live up to my own and others’ expectations and find a way to deal with my own issues.”
There will always be times when we go through existential crisis. All the great people have been there, through depression and crisis. Happy people don’t make history. Be it Freud, Lincoln, Hemingway, Nietzsche, or even the Prophets, they all went through this but never left their essential purpose. It is the one common factor that unites them all – a longing to attain something, which drives them to new horizons. We must learn self-acceptance. There is a stereotype that men don’t cry. I am a guy who cries a lot and I am not ashamed of it. If love is your weakness, you are the strongest person alive. A time will come when machines will replace humans and the question that remains is what makes us humans? It is our emotions that keep us humane.
I have lost her. I accept it. What is lost I am letting it go. But I am searching for the pieces that are left, to have something to be grateful for and I am looking forward to a new life. Without her, the puzzle remains incomplete and many things don’t make sense but as Robert Frost said, life can be summed up in three words, ‘It moves on’. But mine seems to have come at a standstill. I am going through life-crisis. I am lost in thoughts of her and how could she leave me so easily for someone else. But I also accept the fact that people have the autonomy to make their own choices. We only follow our own path. Destinies just cross and they are independent, not tied to each other. Some destinies just cross the others along the way. There is a meeting point but as time goes on, they just diverge and keep going far.
I taught myself not to be a victim and a prisoner of my own thoughts. I don’t believe in self-pity. Love lies in freedom. I gave her that. Now it is all her call. I don’t blame her, only myself. Because in every relationship we build, just like a business, there is a chance of success and an equal chance of failure. Life is a mixed blessing and isn’t always fair. Sometimes we don’t even get what we rightfully deserve.
Happiness to me is to follow my goals that make other people’s lives happier. Seeing my purpose in other people’s lives makes me glad too. Seeing things working for them in the way they didn’t work for me rejoices me. Perhaps we try to give others what we were ourselves denied.
Or perhaps it is the fact that, as they say in Turkish, a tailor cannot sew for himself. I am a relationship counsellor but in my life the beautiful things just touched me and left. They didn’t stay. I have things to do, a lot of them. As Frost said, The woods are lovely, dark and deep but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.
Our days in life are limited. It is essential to make every day count and to add life to each day, like the hibiscus flower, giving the best of ourselves even if we know it is going to last only one day. We all will die, the point is to leave a dent, an impression like the caliph Ali said, Be like the flower that leaves its fragrance even in the hands that crush it. I hope I served some purpose in her life just like she did in mine as a blessing and a lesson, both. Sometimes, things are good, just the time isn’t ripe yet.
Or sometimes we take different paths in life. Hers and mine crossed and diverged, but it was beautiful. Even the pain of love has its own sweetness. It drives you. Look at me, she made me a poet. At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet, how true was Plato! But the good thing is I don’t have regrets. I did whatever I could but it took me a while to accept that love isn’t always yours to keep. I wish her happiness and I tell the stars to light her path, just like she once illuminated mine.
She was the centre of my universe and the liberator of my soul. But love takes time to be written upon the slate of heart while it could be erased in no time. Just like it takes me years to write a book but it won’t take more than a minute to burn the same. I guess relationships are like that too. But sometimes we have to become the ash to be born again from the phoenix of the flames that rise above, exalting us, transformed to new heights of life…
Hey, I will keep going on, you see. So this is the brief answer to the question of my emotional well-being."
Haxona was carefully listening and thinking at the same time. Her eyes were fixed on him, while a series of thoughts must have been going through her head. It was clear that she was having an internal dialogue with herself, and trying to reach out and empathize. Just then the girl who says she would never be in love took off a ring that she was wearing and handed it to Zakvim, who held it carefully between his right thumb and the index finger. He quickly noticed that it was a silver ring, old but elegant with twenty four tiny gems, evenly distributed over three rows. His powers of keen observation continued to serve him well. After a brief moment of silence between them, Hexona began to talk,
“You know this ring belonged to my grandmother. She passed away six years ago. I loved her. She had seen a very hard life, full of struggle. She migrated to the Balkans from Greece when she was barely twelve and then got married to my grandfather. She loved him so much, I remember. You know the interesting part. My grandfather was terminally ill and his health was deteriorating. It continued for months and on one such day he was sicker than usual and I saw my grandmother crying in the other room. I went close to console her, telling her it was all going to be ok, even though deep down I was aware of what was coming. She said ‘yes it would be alright. But he won’t go without me.’ I didn’t understand then what it exactly meant.”
The next day, I was talking to my cousin and suddenly my mum shows up with a terrified look and a strange expression on her face, one that I hadn’t seen before. My heart sank and I starting getting the picture of the expected fate. So I said mom is grandpa alright? She replied that it was actually my grandma, who was perfectly alright. The night before, she had just passed away. It was early morning. Just within a few hours, my aunt who is a doctor wanted to inform this to my grandfather. She went to his bed and found out that he had stopped breathing. They passed away on the same day, just within the span of few hours.”
Still holding the ring in his hand, Zakvim - the man of words- had by now lost his eloquence. He was looking for words. Not only because he found the story compelling but also because never before had he seen Haxona speaking so deeply from her heart. He broke the silence by saying. “Yes, love is like that. It hurts because it is a connection of souls and love can surely do miracles. Remember The Notebook, when Allie says, do you think our love, can take us away together to which Noah replies, I think our love can do anything we want it to. I guess fiction represents real aspects of life too. Those who have really understood the meaning of love know that love bonds hearts together and makes souls inseparable both in living and in our demise. Whoever has been in a loving and romantic relationship knows that love is more about giving than taking. But you see Haxona, the thing about love is that lovers always win. A loving heart is the start of all-good. It is like the Indian Poet Amir Khusrau said, “I love you, if you love me then you are mine. If you don’t then I am yours.””
Handing the ring back and looking at his watch, Zakvim noticed that they both were getting late for their chores. They walked out of the café and departed with a chaste hug and an exchange of smiles. Her narration had left Zakvim wondering why she had opened up to him with this meaningful and personal story?
The answer, he found, lay more in her meaningful silences than in words.
Recluse while Writing, Euphoric while Adventuring. Gentleman on the Streets, Criminal between the Sheets (paper, of course). Learning Turkish, Writing English, Reading Rumi, Thinking Philosophy, Listening to my Inner-call & Speaking my Heart. Hopeless Romantic, Wandering Traveller, Urban Monk, Lumbersexual. Always confused Rats with Mice.
So, what do I do? Whatever it takes!
Well, other than the above rant, I am a Counselling Psychologist living in Istanbul, Turkey. I was born and raised in the mountains of Kashmir. Graduating from the International Islamic University Malaysia majoring in Psychology with a Theology minor, fate brought me to the straits of Bosphorus. I run a non-profit for Refugee Education & Youth Empowerment called ‘Inspire ME Global’ in India and whenever life is too much, I pack my rucksack and go camping in the lap of nature to tell stories that life taught me over time.
Feel like connecting? www.facebook.com/yaqeenulhaq & yaqeen.sikander @ gmail. com