A snowflake fell upon his right cheek, the touch of winter was with love but unapologetically cold. The first snow of winter and Suleiman had a lot in common, both unwanted yet rejoiced at the same time, both beautiful but cold.
Suleiman was a lone wanderer, at least that’s what he called himself, taking slow walks on the pavement was his way to ease his worries and thinking endlessly along the endless path now covered with snow resembled his pain, never-ending.He kept thinking about his days in Hyderabad, how pleasant were they, how worth a golden memory. He then realized how we only value a certain thing when it’s lost. In his case he had lost many things, some scarred him with regret, while others made him cry every now and then, but the remembrance of his days in Hyderabad made him smile and cry at the same time.
To live in the UK was not an easy task for him; his parents barely knew what he had to go through, or what he had to lose every month for them to get 30,000 Rupees in their bank account. Every time he wanted to tell his mother that life was not what it looked like, a voice within stopped him. To think about one’s own self was a sin, a sin he was not allowed to commit.His dad had given up on working and declared himself retired, because their eldest son was now old enough to earn, although he could have worked for the next 3 years if he wanted to, then again what would be the point of educating a son if the father had to work.
Sulaiman’s legs were tired now, not because of walking but because of standing the whole day taking orders at the nearby restaurant, famous for Thai food. He walked towards a bench and sat. Bristol had always been beautiful on the outside, but its people carried a certain sadness, a sadness, no one could define, neither explain to the other, if they wanted to.
The thought of Samantha crossed his mind, just popping right in front of his eyes replaying the moment they had met at a bookshop. A tall fair lady, with light brown hair, deep set of brown eyes, and a charming smile. She was a book lover and worked at a bookshop down the street a few blocks away from Suleiman’s apartment, the one he shared with his friend Kashif.
What interested Suleiman the most about Samantha was her being a stable, independent and most of all a British nationality holder. She was born in the UK but was abandoned by her mother because her stepdad could not accept her; and just like Suleiman she had to suffer at the hands of fate, only for one crime, a heinous one if you believe me, a crime we all commit but some have to pay the price, a crime of being born.
Kashif had known Samantha for more than 5 years, according to him Samantha had over three men she called her boyfriends and all reported to have betrayed her, “Strange isn’t it” Kashif used to say, “Everyone betrayed her, that hardly sounds possible.” and with that, he laughed.
The voice interrupted Suleiman’s thoughts and what he sees in front of himself is a tall sleek figure of a white lady, with a fishtail braid put on one side and strand of hair on the other.
“Oh, hey Samantha.” He replies,
“Are you busy?”
“No, no, please sit”
She has a book in her hand, the kind he would never read, or maybe he was never fond of reading.
“Oh really, you like it?” She says surprised like nobody had ever said that to her before.
“I do, I mean, I love books.”
For instance, Suleiman felt a little thump on his heart, why did he lie? Did he want to impress her and if the answer was yes, he knew why.
“That’s great; this book is about happiness, love, and dreams, the kind of things you only get in books I suppose”
She seemed sad, but like I said sadness was art around here, unexplainable and not understood by many.
“What is that one thing you would pick out of these three, Suleiman?”
“According to me we all want to achieve happiness, it’s just that our definitions of happiness are different from the other. And if you notice, people work on achieving certain goals, why? Because they want to be happy.”
Samantha could not understand Suleiman either, they were people of different countries having different pains, striving for a common goal, happiness; according to Samantha true happiness lies in love, the love she could never get because love without honesty is nothing more than a house of cards.
“Maybe that’s what makes life so worth living,” Samantha says, knowing that there was some understanding between them, knowing that Suleiman and she both had given up on the idea of happiness.
“But do we get this happiness, or is it just an illusion,” She says, curiously.
“Hope is an illusion and happiness a lie”
Suleiman sounded hopeless than ever and Samantha just wanted to find the underlying pain in his answers.
“Some people seem happy, they have attained happiness, happiness cannot be a lie…” she says.
“That is what life is all about, to live means to spend your entire life chasing happiness, some get it and if they don’t they fake it, to some it’s a reality, while others just live their entire life hoping to get it someday,” Suleiman says.
Samantha was aware that happiness is a lie for some; it’s like a false advertisement setup by life to keep us all going and in some way or the other we keep convincing ourselves that happiness cannot be a lie. Just like 2 years ago when her mother came up to her one day saying that she could not live in her house anymore because her new husband could not see Samantha around. She still remembers looking into her mother’s green eyes and hoping she would not let her go, and after a year she saw herself looking into green eyes of a man and hoping, he would not let her go.
“The future is unpredictable, maybe someday we’ll find happiness and I think happiness lies in letting go of all the people that have hurt you.”
Samantha says it like a theory that cannot be denied, but Suleiman had his own theories, his parents never intended to hurt him, neither did his sisters but they never thought about him the way he did about them, to his family he was just supposed to earn and support their living.
For instance, there is silence, a silence holding thoughts that cannot be shared. A silence that could be broken but was preserved.
“You know life is like a train, sometimes you’re the passenger other times you can get crushed under its pace, sometimes you reach your destination, other times you don’t even know where you’re headed to.”
The silence had been broken by Suleiman, but Samantha seemed to have no answers, all she ever wanted in life was to be loved, by her mother and all the other people that had left her. But she had learned to accept it, she had learned to let go and maybe the state of lightness that she could not define was happiness or more than that, relief.
“You know what’s the hardest part?” Suleiman breaks into her thoughts.
“What…” she answers
“To get on board” he replies
“Why are you so hopeless, or should I say sad?” she needed to know what was bothering him, unlike her what was that which he wanted to achieve.
“I’m not sad, is just that life has not been good to me; it has turned me into someone I don’t want to live like anymore,” Suleiman says
“The things that change you also build you into a better person, life isn’t always bad, sometimes people are, to differentiate means to know how to be happy,” Samantha says, hoping Suleiman would understand
Suleiman looked straight at her now, how could she possibly differentiate between life and people, she could not tell that Suleiman, for instance, wanted to spend time with her not out of adherence or love, but because of his own selfish purposes, he needed her for his good and his family’s. Moreover, she needed him as a replacement for the love she had once got. The universe had brought them together so that one could give the other what they needed the most and make them believe in happiness once again.
“It’s getting cold; let’s go get some coffee, shall we?” Suleiman says
“Sure” Samantha replies.