Just Another Monday [August 2010]

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

It was the tail end of just another Monday.

Passers-by knew the man sitting in the Mazda. He was famous in many circles, respected by a following of fans, envied by others and hated in secret by those who coveted the fame, the respect or even the envy. Not many knew his full name: Almost everyone knew his nom de plume, nickname or family name. But no one knew the real man inside, or so he would like people to believe.

It was hot outside. Thirty two Celsius with the near-saturation humidity stripped off the sea was certainly not the therapeutic temperatures the tourism brochures advertized if you happened to be walking on the uneven cement blocks that passed for sidewalks in Male, Maldives. A small pickup truck went by, loudspeakers blasting anyone within earshot with an invitation to attend either a political rally or a religious sermon later on in the evening. Cocooned inside the air-conditioned Mazda, and sheltered behind tempered glass, the man kept his cool. Or so he thought he did.

And the passers-by saw him and envied him. Fame, respect or hate notwithstanding.

No one saw what was happening inside the house just ten meters away from where the Mazda was temporarily parked. If walls were invented by human beings for the purpose of hiding from the community the amount of abuse a husband can heap on a wife, then one should heap well-deserved praise on the inventors. If dignity and respect were words behind which a woman hid all the shame, the tears, the slaps and the insults, the woman who lived behind those walls was a dignified and respectable human being. Despite the air-conditioning, it was hotter than hell inside.

And her neighbors envied this woman who apparently had everything.

For seven long years, long day after longer day, the man in the Mazda had chosen that very spot to stop his car and take a breather on his way home from work. His car had changed model twice. The trees in the neighborhood had grown in inches and in feet. Some buildings had emulated the trees and had risen higher. But today, something about the very air felt different, somehow.

For seven long years, long day after tortuous day, the woman in the house had noticed the famous man stop his car for an hour or so on that spot just outside her house. She had been observing him quietly for years. There had always been something about the man that had always intrigued her. Despite his obvious affluence, he always had a sad look on his face. Maybe he had an abusive wife, she had thought. But she had quickly shrugged the idea aside, saying to herself that she should not transfer her condition to a total stranger.

Inside the car, the man had sometimes seen a woman’s shadow at the window shades in the house nearest to him. He had assumed that it belonged to someone whose curiosity never overtook her dignity. However, for some strange reason, he just wanted to find out who that person was. Whoever it was, she had also become a part of his empty life. Words seemed to float into his mind and he realized that they were from Shakespeare, Julius Caesar:

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Inside the house, the woman carefully replaced in her bookshelf her favorite old copy of Julius Caesar , and decided to try to bring a smile to the face of the famous man. She walked out into her garden and immediately saw a pretty red rose looking at her in full bloom from her favorite bush. Carefully, so as not to hurt the plant, she pinched off the rose and walked out into the street.

As the man got out of his car, he saw the woman coming out of the gate with a rose in her hand and a smile on her face. And she was looking at him!

Out-of-sequence thoughts crossed the road from both directions: Was it fate? Was it foolishness? Was it preordained? Did life sometimes nurture a strange animal called Coincidence and let it loose when least expected? Disconnected memories played in their minds like a fast-running movie in a defective projector: Why does a poor little rich girl have to go to school in worn plastic sandals? Why does one sacrifice a friendship for a long-distance version of love? Does one believe in déjà vu?

When and where they met soon became irrelevant. Seven years ago could have been yesterday. The width of a road could be hundreds of kilometers. Out of politeness and courtesy, the only words exchanged in public on that road could have been just a wish for a mutual good evening and maybe even an observation of the weather, with a rose and a thank you changing hands. In private, it could have been a million words.

They parted and as the sun went down on just another Monday, leaving behind a beautiful rose-colored sunset the tourists could carry home in their cameras.

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  • mysterystar  On August 9, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Good feeling for someone truly loved

    • ldive  On September 6, 2010 at 3:04 am

      And you are the star that guides!

  • jose thomas  On September 6, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    the story reinstates the mystery called life and how unspoken or underspoken love’s soothing touch can reverse a situation of hell to heaven.

  • jose thomas  On September 6, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    there is a tide in the affairs of men: the truth of the forks of life and the sense of loss that the untrodden roads give ( as in The Road Not Taken) is felt in the story.the visualisation of the woman walking out slowly with the red rose neglecting the “walls” is a wonderful presentation! may the Almighty bless you to write more and more wonderfully beautiful incomparable stories

    • ldive  On September 8, 2010 at 1:39 am

      Mr. Thomas, I am humbled by your insight! You have touched the story where it matters the most. I thank you, sir!

  • shifa  On September 6, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    true love hidden in the bottom of their heart ………so silent .. a very touching story.

    • ldive  On September 8, 2010 at 1:39 am

      And perhaps, some day, that hidden love shall bloom?

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