Barnard 344 nebula in the constellation Cygnus.
Barnard 344 nebula in the constellation Cygnus.
How often have you seen that girl who makes you stop whatever you’re doing, and just marshal all your faculties into attention so you can ensure you never, ever forget her face again? It happened to me for the first time earlier this evening.
I was at a coffee shop after having shopped for books at a clearance sale with my uncle and his daughter; it was 2 in the afternoon. I automatically sat down in the chair in the corner, where I’d be beside the least traffic in all the room while being able to look at people’s faces. I didn’t notice her at first – I didn’t notice anyone at first – and was just looking around. Once I and my uncle and my cousin had placed the orders, I ruffled through my haul and was wondering which book I’d read first when I saw her.
She was sitting facing her friend who was right behind my uncle. Ergo, I was facing her, albeit from about 15 feet away. She wore a dark blue top, indigo-blue jeans, her skin the colour of dark chocolate, her lips a faded maroon. She was gorgeous, with large, expressive eyes, their jet-black irises pregnant with excitement every time she smiled, her jawbone angling into her chin below her cheeks with that subtle abruptness that speaks arresting relief but stops short of outright sharpness.
I couldn’t keep staring at her – I already knew she knew I was looking at her as often as I could – so I did so in bouts, but never quite letting her out of my sight. She sat cross-legged and constantly turned her head away from her friend to look out the window, at what I couldn’t fathom. Perhaps she liked how the skies were clouding over as I did, but I suppose that’s just wishful thinking. She smiled often, too, the corners of her mouth stretching into her supple cheeks.
She had a delicate elegance about her, the sort you do when you’re handling books that are centuries old, or artifacts to which you attach too much sentimental value. In fact, it was the sort of elegance which you swear you won’t do anything to injure the moment you notice it, the sort of elegance that tells you that it’s a given that she’s going to be graceful.
All this while, my uncle and my cousin were going on about how her college life was going to be – she starts tomorrow. They expected me to impart all my lessons that I learnt while I was in college. But looking at the Girl in Blue, though, I couldn’t think of anything. Luckily, before they could get too pushy, my sandwich arrived. I ate in silence; my eyes, however, were clamouring.
I knew I might not ever see her again. I also knew for sure that I wasn’t the sort of guy to interrupt their conversation and tell her I thought she was incredibly pretty. For added measure, I was also fighting a battle with myself: one half of me wanted me to whip my phone out, take a quick picture, upload the image to the web, and attempt to identify that awesome face. The other half, of course, emerged triumphant. I’m still not happy with that half.
When her and her friend’s orders arrived, her friend did something silly: the mango-shake she’d called for was too sugary, so she slid down the couch to talk to the waiter, conveniently blocking my view of my interest. I mean, who does something like that?! Anyway, the four minutes of visual silence that followed almost blinded me to all else. Reluctantly, I took the time to clarify all of my cousin’s doubts. Just when I thought I would have to intervene and somehow persuade the girl to slide back down the couch, she moved by herself.
I could see the Girl in Blue again. Oh, what a sight! By then, I was just looking at her whenever I could, no longer devoting any effort in considering what would be appropriate. How ironical then that I might’ve precipitated her leaving: she got up just as I caught her staring out the window at some car below. It strikes me now that that car could’ve been a boyfriend’s – fathers don’t have orange Suzuki Swifts with a matte-finish – but right then, at that moment, nothing could’ve swayed me from my apotheosization of her.
As she left, she turned to look at me. Our eyes met. My life flashed before mine. I’m sure she, however, saw a creep. I didn’t care. I still don’t care. Some moments are well-known not to happen too often, the sort of moments that work away at your memory, displacing one after another as they lock themselves within cages that you hope will last a lifetime, memories that jolt you out of one reality and into another, where it is a picture within your cranium no more but a sensation that suffocates you. That sweet release…
Her legs were slender, like reeds pulsing with life, and she was tall, but not that tall. I, of course, by then had forgotten what sort of girls I liked and what sort of girls simply wouldn’t work out. In my cranium, the sensation was filling up. Needless to say that I was distressed as she stepped out of the room and climbed down the flight of stairs. Oh, that’s when I noticed her friend: ugly. Never mind.
I know I will forget the face of the Girl in Blue. I will ravish it with my mind’s eye over the course of two days, maybe three, and then, I know it will start to morph into other faces, faces more memorable than they are simply gorgeous because they belong to loved ones whom I hurt in the past. Her face will dissolve into the narrow space of a name, and then a date, and then simply an inkling. Until then, I will think about her.
And until the end of eternity, I will have this piece to remind me of the truth of the moment when I saw her.