He has this strange ability, he can see the damage. How damaged a person is. He will always look around and see numbers like 25, 56, 13, 7, these numbers tell how much damaged that person is. But whenever he looked into the mirror, he realized, that at last, he cannot see it all. He can never see how much damaged he is.
One hazy evening, wandering about the streets, he was stunned as he looked at a girl. How could that be? I must be dreaming! The girl, she was smiling and what he could see was that she was completely damaged. He read it: 99. This is not happening! That was not normal. Not even close. Normally, people just die or about to die above 90, but she was there, all good, breathing, alive and smiling. He took a deep breath. Moved conscious, unconscious towards the girl. She was, too, looking at him. His lips moved to speak but before he could say anything, she did.
“Ah, yeah, I mean, can we go out for a cup of coffee or an ice-cream or whatever. Anything?”
“I knew I was dreaming. How can you possibly say yes?”
“I just did.”
“Are you serious?”
“Are we going or not.”
“Oh yeah, yeah.”
They went to a nearby café which she’d chose and sat in a corner ‘table for two’ from where you couldn’t see outside. Maybe she chose it so that they don’t get disturbed by anything but each other. She placed the order of both, she even paid for them both (yeah, this where he was surprised). She talked to the lady on the counter and astonishingly, that lady knew her name and more. When she returned to the table, he asked her if she visited here often. To which she cunningly replied, “Yep. This is my place.” They talked so much and so less that evening that he started wondering again if it was a dream. It all worked well and she insisted him to leave her at the same place he found her. They said their goodbyes and till then they both had shared enough and still nothing about each other. They exchanged contact numbers so that they stay in touch, and told each other ‘See ya, soon’. Like it’d mean anything or everything.
Later that night, he received her text which read: Go to the café tomorrow morning and ask for my letter. Give her your name. Goodnight.
He replied her goodnight and tried to sleep, but she’d occupied his mind without courtesy. Somewhere in between her and peace, sleep came like the first rain ― slow and easy.
Today morning, everything he could think about was the letter. What could be in that letter? If anything, she could’ve just texted me! Why’d she write me a letter in the first place? I don’t get it! I’ll end up making a fool of myself, maybe. But I want to believe her… He’d like to stop this train of thoughts, but it ran so involuntarily. She’d just surprised him more and more in less than a day.
Late morning around 11 O’clock, he went to that café, again. He saw that young lady, who was talking to her yesterday. She’d known her. He went to her, told her his name and asked if there’s any letter for him. She nodded, “Oh yes, just wait a minute.” She went behind the counters and quickly came back with a letter and handed it over. Her eyes were suddenly filling up. He didn’t understand what just happened. He asked her how early she’d came to give her the letter. All of a sudden, she broke into tears and answered, “She… She passed away this morning.” It was no surprise anymore. Shock. That’s what it was.
The world was falling in front of him. Everything was transparent and hollow and blurred and waste. Such a waste. He would’ve never believed it if he hadn’t seen this lady broke in front of him. And now, it was time for him to break, but not into tears. His soul broke into pieces, a million little pieces and the only thing still holding on was his hand to that letter. This might be last words, at least to me. First, he let himself out of that place and found himself sitting on a concrete bench in a nearby park. He didn’t hesitate a little to open the envelope ’cause she did not go yet. She was there, still in there, a part of her. He slipped out a well-folded paper but couldn’t read it. It was all too blurred for him, at first. But after awhile, he pulled himself back together, took a deep breath and started reading it. It read:
By the time you read this letter, I’ll be dead, I guess or hope so. I’d cancer and yesterday was my last day. So how can I say no to such a handsome guy asking me out? But I noticed that when you first saw me, you weren’t looking at me. You were looking at the number which I could never see for myself. And though I could’ve told you yours, it punched me better not to. You’re good, anyway. I just hope you didn’t ask me out of sympathy. Surprised? Shocked? That kind will do.
So, moving on what I really wanted to tell you is ― you see, damage which is visible is not completely true. A part of it is self-claimed, exaggerated or demeaned. Don’t get emotional all the time. Believe in those numbers, but not depend or judge people over them.
Thanks for the coffee.
While he was returning home, he witnessed an accident ― a car hit the divider on the road. The driver was screaming, “I’m gonna die, I’m going to die. Help me. God, help me.” A few pedestrians moved in and got him out of the car, they were on their way to the nearest hospital, that was the last he saw of him. That man, he wasn’t dying at all, he read it: 66.
Today, he realized two things: She could read the damage too, and… Saying that you’ll die doesn’t mean you actually will, and not saying it doesn’t mean you won’t. Though, it can control how much one will suffer. Pain and Suffering are two independent things.
A smile carved into his lips as he remembered the whole time he looked at her, she was smiling; not dying.