Story Best Left Unwritten

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

Majdi, the owner of the little shop on the corner of Sosun and Violet Magu did not believe in tinted glass; it impeded his view of the road. And that was why he noticed the expensive SUV stop right outside his shop. A man of obvious means in a cowboy hat sat at the steering wheel, staring straight ahead in total ignorance of lesser passersby.

A woman in black chador stepped out of the SUV and came into the shop.

As-salam Alaikum! May I have some AA-size alkaline batteries, preferably Duracell?” Quiet voice, well modulated. One that some would readily describe as full of sadness.

Wa alaikum-us-Salaam! We do have AA-Duracell, madam! How many would you like? I would suggest you buy a pack of four.”

“How much would that be?” She asked. She had that kind of voice which some people would describe as being full of some deep sorrow somewhere. Majid had a strange feeling he had heard that voice somewhere before, perhaps with a happier tone attached.

“That would be forty-eight Rufiyaa, madam!” Majid attempted to create a brighter atmosphere with a smile and an upbeat tone of voice.

The woman pulled out a small purse and looked in it. Then she brought out a worn fifty-Rufiyaa note that had almost reached the end of its useful life. “I am sorry I only have this much worn fifty and a newer five hundred in my purse right now. Would you take the fifty or the five hundred?”

Majid knew that if he took the five hundred, his cash drawer would be almost empty, leaving him with no change for future customers that morning. He hoped he would be able to get rid of the fifty soon. He said, “Oh, the fifty will be fine, madam. It is still legal tender. And here is your two-Rufiyaa change.”

As the woman left the shop with her batteries, Majdi wondered where he had heard that voice before…..

A maroon Mercedes convertible with the hood down stopped right outside the shop in obvious disregard of the two yellow lines by the sidewalk. A woman with a haughty look on her face was in the driving seat. Majdi did not mind the look. She probably owned two resorts and a yacht and could damn well conduct herself as she pleased.

A man in an obviously expensive pair of jeans and polo shirt to match stepped out of the passenger side and walked into the shop. He had a half-full bottle of Perrier in his left hand and was drinking out of it. Something about the man looked familiar to Majdi too. Majdi began to have this strange, almost surreal déjà-vu-cum-groundhog-day feeling. Something was not quite right with the day!

As-salam Alaikum. May I have some AA-size alkaline batteries, preferably Duracell?” Polite to the point of being deferential. Deep, pleasant voice, pitched at a level that again had an odd ring of sadness to it. Sad voices and requests for Duracell appeared to dog him that day.

Wa alaikum-us-Salaam! We certainly have AA-Duracell, sir! How many would you like? I would suggest you buy a pack of four.”

“Thank you. That would be just what I need. How much would that be?” Same sad voice, well modulated. News anchor on television? Lecturer at one of the colleges? Majdi wondered. It sounded almost familiar.

“That would be forty-eight Rufiyaa, sir!”

The man took out a leather wallet, looked in it and pulled out a hundred-Rufiyaa note. Majdi took it and as he opened the cash drawer, the man said, “Do you have a really old fifty on you? My son needs an old fifty for some sort of school project and I would really appreciate it if you give me the oldest note in there.”

Majdi remembered the worn fifty the woman in black had given him. He could happily part with that. “Oh, I do have this very old and worn fifty here. I am sorry it is a bit worn and dirty.”

The man took the old fifty along with the two-Rufiyaa which comprised his change. The Perrier was empty now. “This fifty, I am sure, is exactly what my son needs. Thank you. May I leave this empty bottle with you, if you have a trash basket here?”

“Be my guest, sir! The trash bin in there on your right. Just put it there. I am sorry it is not a proper covered bin as recommended by the authorities.”

“Oh, I don’t mind. Thank you very much. As-salam Alaikum!” Did Majdi detect a happier note in the voice? Then he was gone, soon seen getting into the Mercedes convertible where the haughty one sat with impatient fingers tapping the steering wheel. Majdi still wondered why the man had looked so familiar. He had even sounded familiar just then…..

A screech of brakes and the cowboy hat in the SUV was in front of his shop again and the woman in the black chador was coming in again. Majdi knew this was no ordinary day. Maybe he had been working too hard at balancing the books, he thought….

As-salam Alaikum! I hope I am not disturbing you, but I have this feeling I threw something I have need for in your trash bin. May I look in it?” She said.

Majdi knew the woman had thrown nothing in the trash bin. But he still pointed it out to her.

“Oh, I remember now. I did not throw away anything here. It must have been in that other shop….. but…. may I please take this empty bottle of Perrier away? My son is doing a crafts project with glass bottles and he might just find this useful.”

“Please, madam. Feel free!” Majid said. Now he was certain something was going on. He had read thriller stories in which spies and dead drops figured prominently. Something was certainly going on here!

“Thank you! As-salam Alaikum!” And she was gone, leaving behind an odd note that made Majid wonder some more… Now what was that? Yes, she had dropped that sad note in her voice, just like the man with the sad voice had.

And then it hit him! It all came back to him.

The man in the Merc convertible, the woman in black chador and Majid had known each other in what could best be described as a previous life. The man had been a poor island boy who had worked as a waiter at one of the harbor teashops. The woman had been his equally poor girlfriend in torn jeans and ponytail. Majid had been the Ameenee Magu coconut cart owner whose regular customers those two young lovers had been. They would jokingly ask Majid for what they called a regular customer discount on the one coconut they shared between them when they could afford the time and money to have a night out. And Majid would sometimes oblige simply because he had enjoyed their banter, their happy and lively voices, and because they had often shared with him their dreams of hitting the good life some day!

They had looked so familiar because they had been just that. The voices had tickled his memory because they had previous records there. The sad faces and the sad voices had been the confusing factor!

Perhaps the drag and drudgery of the hard life had dragged them down and then apart. Perhaps one had given in to the dazzle of a sudden and undreamt-of offer and the other had followed suit, in obviously opposite, yet parallel directions. Perhaps they had forgotten the past, forgotten their previous lives, forgotten Majdi’s coconut cart and forgotten what they had had…

Then again, perhaps they had not forgotten each other. Perhaps all they had left to share of each other were a used fifty-Rufiyaa note and an empty bottle of Perrier. Precious little, perhaps. Majid felt a deep, undefined sorrow grip his heart and squeeze hard….

Perhaps, he thought, perhaps…………. it was a story best left unwritten.

He switched on the radio to perhaps help heal the hurt….

Sheesha toot ke jur sakta hai, dil na juray ‘gar tootay
Kitna hai bedard woh insaan, pyar ka ghar jo lootay
Aisa zulm na kia karo, dukh na kisi ko diya karo
Jo duniya ka malik hai, naam usi ka liya karo
Allah hi Allah!

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  • Zeina  On April 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Why make me cry, Waheed? Why?

    • ldive  On April 21, 2010 at 1:01 am

      Too close to the truth, perhaps? In that case, Zeina, please please forgive me! But, do try to make life better for all the bitterness that must be endured…..

  • Maeed  On April 19, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    weird story … Pichley janam stuff… but nice … and the best part is the song in the end …

    • ldive  On April 21, 2010 at 1:00 am

      Pichley….. is Ok. But is it as in a previous physical life or as in another time in the SAME life time? Perhaps that is where the unwritten part of the story lies!

  • mysterystar  On April 20, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Duniya ek tamasha hai
    Aasha aur nirasha hai
    Thode phool hai kaante hai
    Jo taqdeer ne baante hain
    Apna apna hissa hai
    Apna apna kissa hai
    Koi lut jaata hai
    Koi (loot jaata hai)
    Sheesha ho ya dil ho
    Aakhir (toot jaata hai)
    Lab tak aate aate haathon se
    Sagar (choot jaata hai)
    Sheesha ho ya dil ho

  • mysterystar  On April 20, 2010 at 5:38 am

    interesting and beautiful

  • elfa  On July 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    this is a very touching story…some things are best unsaid as well…

    • ldive  On July 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm

      ….and sometimes they just manage to claw themselves out, even as you try to hold them in!

  • shifa  On August 4, 2010 at 12:23 am

    no words …. i am speechless .

    • ldive  On September 6, 2010 at 3:05 am

      That is why this should have been kept unwritten….

  • curious_mind  On October 4, 2010 at 9:51 am

    sad but wonderful story..thanks for sharing..However,s idiotic as this may sound, i was wondering if you could give me a translation of the song at the end..thanks in advance =)

    • ldive  On October 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm

      Here is my interpretation (and NOT exact translation) of sorts:
      When a mirror is broken, it is possible to piece it together; if a heart is broken, it cannot be mended.
      How cruel is that human being who pillages the house of love!
      Don’t engage in such calumnies; do not give grief to anyone!
      He who is the Lord of the World, take His name!
      God, Allah…..

  • Jabyha Ahamed  On November 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Such a beautiful story!… I just had to sigh in the end. the regret of lost love lost opportunities, sitting here in my place right now, it is so easy for me to say why dint Chador and Merc Convertible stay on and be happy in their miserably poor lives, sharing a coconut with each other occasionally. but then life and the man’s greed knows no bounds :(… made me feel happy and sad at the same time reading this. thank you for bringing this beautiful story to my attention ❤

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