Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Things We Left Behind - excerpt

It had all began at a time I was young, no more than a drop in the vast ocean of humanity; it all came to an end at a time during which I’ve stubbornly refused to grow up. Besides, I never felt that I was anything more than a child; despite the almost non-stop drinking, our so-called high society, the fake friendships and the illusions of happiness, and the drugs that were so easy to find and consume, and thus be rewarded with fleeting moments of pleasure, while at the same time flooding with money the pockets of the dealers and the coffers of the inappropriately luxurious detoxification clinics. It was at that exact moment, as I was plummeting into the abyss and at the same time trying to rise to the surface, that I met him.
     Andy looked nothing like the people I’ve been acquainted with thus far in life –I, yet had no real friends- I felt that he didn’t belong there. There where we were, that is. In that big university that was full of spoilt rich kids, who tended to make the rules, while the others just had to obey and follow. In his case, it wasn’t the money and the invisible guardian-parents, which paved the way to a golden future, but the hard work and the will to learn, the full-hearted devotion to a dream that demanded big and nonstop sacrifices in order to come true. And last but not least it was the poverty; the almost inhuman conditions under which he lived that made him so much a better person than all of us put together. As I was soon to find out his scholarship was hardly enough to make ends meet, so he had to keep a handful of a part-time jobs that saw him running from the one place to the next, seven days a week, without a break. However, despite all that, he was always smiling. And it was that smile exactly that made me feel an unwelcome kind of attraction towards him, which let me to abandon without any sense of guilt my girlfriends, with their silly talking; with their unwillingness to just let me be. But it was not only that that drew me close to him; it was also his eyes; a pair of big gray eyes, which in an odd way seemed to be sad and happy at the same time; full of irony and warmth; rage and serenity. His was a glance staring straight into the future. This man seems to have a purpose in life, I thought the very first time I set eyes on him, and felt a pinch of melancholy tormenting my soul. He had a purpose, one that I never did, since my future was decided for me without me; probably from day one; from the moment I took my very first breath and shed my first tears in the sterile environment of an exclusive and definitely expensive clinic. All of a sudden I felt jealous of him, even though I had yet no clues about his what’s and why’s, without knowing what was it that he was going through. For a moment I felt that poverty could set me free, but as I was to find out in the months to follow poverty was not the answer to my inner demons. He was! Maybe everything in my life happened for a reason after all; maybe that was the plan that the fates braided for me: to be there at that exact moment, to see him, to feel curious about his being, to make me at last wonder about the meaning of my life.
     I didn’t dare to talk to him that day. I just sat there staring, almost in awe, at his brilliant presence, as he was reading a book and every now and then raising his head and looking out of the window. And I didn’t dare to approach him the days that followed either, even though I saw him almost every time I was in the campus cafeteria. What could I tell him? What would I tell him? – Absolutely nothing. I had nothing to say and knew not how to talk. Besides, even though I used to talk to other girls about this and that, stupid stuff really, I was pretty shy; I’d never dare to make the first step. Unless we played Truth or Dare, of course; then I would. But we didn’t, so I kept watching him, trying to guess his thoughts -I’d give more than a penny for them- eager to know who he really was, without showing though how interested I were in him. However, as I’ve already pointed out, he was a stranger in our world, so how was I supposed to invade his? That was the question. And right now I feel so lucky, blessed in a way that he decided to take matters into his own hands. If he didn’t, I’d never really meet him; he’d stay nothing but a daydream to me. And then I’d still toady be somebody else; someone I wouldn’t like; I’d perfectly fit in the cast that they made for me. My parents, that is.
     “Why are you always so sad?” I heard his voice asking me a couple of weeks later, and I felt truly surprised, as if suddenly awaking from a dream. I was sitting alone and lonely, as I usually did, in the cafeteria staring at a book; just staring at it, totally distracted, unable to read a single sentence. I was about to burst out yelling -who the hell did he thing he was, and who gave him the right to talk to me?- but then I raised my head, swept the fog from my eyes and saw him. I smiled. It was the very first time I’ve heard his voice and I dare say that it unquestionably suited him. His gray eyes were focused on me, as if repeating the question, but their look was gentle, full of understanding; they imposed no pressure at all on me to answer.
     “I have no idea,” I finally said and asked him to sit there, at the opposite site of the table. I’m sure that if I didn’t he’d never think of doing it. He had manners that man. He really did.

To be continued

Image taken from here

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