Sometimes you meet some people by choice but sometimes you meet some by chance and connect from the word go. I met one such person last week. It was a chance encounter. I was sitting alone and scribbling something in my book when she walked up to me looking for an extra pen to borrow.
“Hey, sorry to bother you but do you have an extra pen by any chance”
I replied ” Let me check my bag quickly”
After going through the various hidden pockets of my bag.
“No, sorry I don’t have any. But you can use the one I am working with. I am bored of writing, I will just take a break in the meantime.”
“Oh! Are you sure? I can go ask someone else. It’s not an issue”
“Don’t worry, take mine. You are also welcome to come sit on this table. That way we can share it.”
She looked confused but happy. She quickly went and grabbed her bag from another table and came and sat next to me.
“Well this is a good idea, this way I can stay awake and keep working on my project.
I went and grabbed a cup of coffee and came back to the table.
“So, are you working on some work related project?”
She replied “No, this is more of a personal project. I am writing about a very specific interaction I had with my mental health counsellor the other day”
“Oh! that’s great. You have a mental health counsellor?”
I had one too. I had been seeing her from the past couple of months and each session made me realize, that why didn’t I do this before? I wish someone had told me few years back to go for counseling, would have helped so much to grow as a person.
“I go to a counsellor too. Although a lot of my friends think it’s taboo to go to one. But I really feel I need it. I see a lot of change in my after I started going to her”
“You know my friends made fun of me when I told them I am going to a counsellor. They think that it’s so uncool to go to one. But I feel if you can understand a problem or have someone to share your life with, who will not judge you back in return, it’s super helpful to grow.”
“I know. I love my counsellor. She has helped me get through some very tough times which I am sure any of my friends would have understood.”
“I am glad someone else finds it absolutely normal to go talk to a counsellor. I am also glad I came and asked for a pen. This way I know another person who might like olives too”
“That was random and completely wild guess but I love olives”
We both laughed.
I went back to writing on my laptop and she went back to writing in her book. In that moment something clicked. I knew that we are going to be friends for a really long time.
After a few hours it was time for me to leave.
“Hey, so I have to leave, house duties await. Have to go back home and cook.”
Oh! Thanks for letting me borrow your pen. It was so nice to meet you today.”
She returned me my pen.
“Same here. Nice to meet you. But don’t be so formal, you can keep the pen”
She smiled at me and kept the pen.
I packed my bag and was about to leave when she interrupted.
“Hey, I come here every Tuesday and Thursday, around 10 a.m. Will you be interested in joining me?”
A smile appeared on my face and I said “Absolutely, I am free on both days. I will be there on Thursday”
“That’s awesome, I will see you on Thursday then. Have fun cooking.”
As I walked out of the bookstore, I was more at peace with myself. The very fact that I found someone who has similar interests like me or the fact that there is someone else who gives importance to mental health as much as I do, made me happy. I just knew I had made a new friend and met a person who understood me. In all this I completely forgot to ask her name or take her phone number down.
On Thursday, I went to the bookstore sharp at 10a.m. I waited till 2 p.m. but she never showed up. Maybe, I was wrong. Maybe, she mentioned some other day and I heard it wrong. I went up to the bookstore cashier.
“Hey Annie, How are you today? Listen, I need to ask you something. I met a girl day before yesterday here. She is my age, short, light brown hair and she was wearing a white shirt and carrying a red backpack. She said she comes here often. Do you know her by any chance or have you seen her today?”
Annie replied “No, Maya I don’t know anyone like that. I have never seen a girl of your age come to the bookstore at this time on a weekday. Most of them who visit during this time, I know personally.”
“Don’t you remember, I was talking to her the other day. She was sitting right next to me. We were just sitting on the table right in front of your magazine stand.”
” As far as I can remember you were sitting alone that day. You came to me grabbed a cup of coffee and went back and buried yourself in your laptop. There are hardly 3-4 people who visit the bookstore at this time. I would have surely known if she was sitting with you.”
I was confused. But why will Annie lie. She might not have seen her.
“Okay, thank you.”
I silently walked out of the cafe with a confused state of mind. I knew she was there. She was sitting next to me. We chatted for so long the other day.
As, I stepped out of the bookstore, my eyes fell upon someone. She was there standing in the same white shirt and red backpack on the sidewalk on the other side of the bookstore. She looked at me and smiled and waved. I waved back but just then a pickup truck came and blocked my view. As the pick up truck left. She was gone. All that was left was an empty sidewalk.