She was not my friend! Not just that. Never at any point in our “acquaintance” period, have we actually spent more time than that needed to exchange two empty courtesy sentences.
I just saw her around the faculty corners and rarely in any class. Nope! I was the nerdy student, she was there because she had to. Wait, there is more. I had always known that this colleague of mine, standing in the distance, looking at me with a smile, was all pretentious and fake. I was certain that this girl, who came to me at the end of every week asking for my lectures’ notes, didn’t like me. She probably made fun of me with her group of friends who used to think they were cool. Yet, I helped her. May be because I was satisfied. End of the day, she and her lame gang needed me. They couldn’t but pull on the oldest tricks in the book on being the perfect sponge. They tried to butter me up because if it wasn’t for me, they wouldn’t make it. And believe it or not, I never cared and it never bothered me. As much as I was disgusted by their actions, I took satisfaction in how low they could stoop.
I intimidated them! I was too much of a character for them to compete with, so they go about calling me stuck up and conservative, they spread rumors, and then they smile sleazily at me and come ask for help. Why not! Am happy they know quite well the difference between both of us.
But all of that was more than 10 years ago. As people go their separate ways, they mature, they change. Bad or good, doesn’t matter, but no one remains the same.
I completely forgot about my college acquaintance and her group. I didn’t exert or put any effort into it. It was very easy. They had no mark upon me whatsoever. I never cared and they smmothly slipped into the time-woven amnesia. I still kept a few college friends around me, who never brought them up in any conversation. It was complete silence … until two years ago.
I was in the middle of an event that I have so proudly organized at the British Embassy after three years of career frustrations. As I reveled into my success (and fought with many idealistic limitations I have set for myself, as I tried to let them go one by one with the tunes of the music soaring from the live guitar recital), I saw her before me.
What is she doing here?! Why is she here in the first place? I have earned my job here over 13 years of hard work, something which she could not possibly do! How does she get to hang out with this group of people as easily as that?! I was sure she had nothing to do with our work or the event. She started talking. That woman before me, was no longer the girl I knew back in college!
She was as surprised as I was to see me. First, because I was also completely different from the image she had in mind, and second because the coincidence was very strange. But she was also, strangely, happy! And I wasn’t.
Something inside me refused to accept her sincerity. Sarcasm almost drove me to the brink of uttering out loud: “REALLY?!” Also, I have to admit, deep down, I wanted her to keep the old image she had of me back from college. I don’t know why.
For anyone who is watching the scene without having any context, it looks like we’ve swapped places. I was standing at the other end of conservative and she was there before me completely balanced and poised, or that’s how I registered it .
The incident of running into her stayed with me for quite some time. I pondered over and over about the universal message behind it. Was God telling me something?! Coincidences do not exist in my belief system. Everything happens for a reason even if we do not grasp it instantly.
Nevertheless, time passed, and the memory elapsed, and I managed once more to put her behind my back.
I left the entire country, moved to a new world, yet She found her way back into my life. In Qatar, I met another college friend. But this one I actually liked. In fact, she is the kind of girl who is friends with everyone. Being expats both of us, we got even closer, and of course conversation about the good old days continued to spring up. Turned out her friendship developed further with my unappreciated colleague, so I was always brought up to speed with news about the latter.
“She is having issues with her husband; She is not happy at all, She is pregnant, She has just delivered a baby…” and eventually… “She DIED”!
YES! Boom! All of a sudden , out of the blue and about 45 days only after she delivered her baby!!!
The first thing that came to my mind…”Why am I crying?!” We were not that connected anyway. But then the second Why was; “Why did I meet her again two years ago?” and “Why did her news keep coming my way ever since then, out of all the people I knew from college?” So many whats, hows and whys hit my head. How did she die? What’s going to happen to her baby? Why do I keep remembering her face with the sincere smile last time I saw her?!
Had I heard about her death without those recent events, am sure it would have never had the same impact on me as it does now.
All the pieces are falling together, yet am still unable to read the message.
Did I meet her again because she needed to see me before her final goodbye, or did she meet me because I needed her death news?!
Whether it’s this or that, I owe her this:
Rasha, you may have hurt me with or without noticing, but I forgive you..
I know I might have hurt you too, and I hope you forgave me..
And while we will never know why so many people die so young, your death was certainly a wakeup call for me…
And I know you are in a much better place…
Rest in Peace, my friend…