I was sitting at the foyer at the Pearl Oyster Bar. I am not alcoholic, but sometimes I love studying the people who smoke, does drugs and boozes so I visit various bars at weekends. Well, I am a so-called freelancer psychologist, photographer and a writer. The worst part of my so-called freelancing jobs is I do it for free. I am a salaried computer engineer. That was the thing which kept my soul and body perfectly together. I could see girls and guys taking vodka, tequila shots and hitting the dance floor, moving in each other’s arm.
I was looking at the people all around when I noticed, I was sitting beside a girl who was staring fixedly at the floor and smoking. I thought she must be the one among the other party freak people who believes that every day is weekends and life is too short to bother, so let’s party. But then, I noted she was wearing a plain tee and a torn jean and wasn’t even listening to music or watching the dancers.
“Hey, you don’t look like a party freak.” I asked her and I knew she wasn’t listening so I have already assumed I have to repeat it once again.
“So do you.” She replied and I was taken aback.
“You seems to be an Indian. Well, let me guess, rich dad! Only child? Lonely, so you come here often.” I asked while there was a hint of sarcasm in my tone. I don’ know whether she got it or not.
She took a long puff and said, “You’re a bit wrong apart the last part.”
“Eh?” I was confused.
“My biological parents were Indian. I don’t know where they went and I found myself at orphanage when I was 3. Then I found myself at some couple’s house when I was 5. I was showered with everything and things changed when my foster parents delivered their own child. I became an alien for them after my sister was born but my sister is super close to me.” She explained with ease.
“Alien?” I asked.
“Not really but they don’t know me. I mean they behave so. They are happy with their kid. I can feel I became a pain in their neck but due to some government rules, they can’t throw me out. So even to their displeasure, they have to tell everyone they got two kids, ‘Daniel and Kim.’” She smiled. I was trying to read her mind. She put off the cigarette and flung the butt in the ashtray. I saw there were more than dozens of butts in the receptacle. She lit another cigarette.
“You seem to be a regular smoker?” I asked. She remain unfazed.
“No, I’m a heavy smoker. I smoke more than I eat food and I breathe.” She winked at me. “By the way, you look like an Indian?” She added.
“I am an Indian. I shifted here before 1 year.” I explained.
“Good for you.” She went back to her smoking. I still couldn’t guess why she is here? She is at bar and neither she had hit the dance floor or took alcohol. The only thing I saw her doing is smoking.
“What is your name? Since when you have been smoking and who pays for it?” I quizzed. She remained calm and replied, “I am Daniel, the name christened by my foster parents, Daniel Brown. I am in NYU, doing double majors in Economics and I got a part time job in the Antique shop which pays for my cigarettes and I have been smoking since 9 years. What about you? Why are you here?” She asked. I can’t help but kept wondering how could she manage to look so beautiful without a single hint of makeup?
“I am a freelancer psychologist, photographer and a writer. The worst part of my freelancing jobs, it doesn’t feeds me.” I replied. This reply irks everyone but to my astonishment, she laughed like it was the best joke she have heard. I was amazed at her behavior.
“Then who does feeds you?” She queried while continuing her laughter.
“Well, I am a salaried Computer Engineer. That’s why I’m here.” I answered with a baffling expression. She stopped laughing and diminished the cigarette butt.
“I need to leave. Bye… Err… What’s your name?” She questioned.
“Samar Nanda.” I replied. She lit another cigarette and I was completely dumbfounded. She was walking away when, I shouted, “Where can I find you in case I need some help from you?”
“I come here regularly. We will meet soon, Summer.” She shouted back. I saw her figure vanishing in the crowds.
“Hey.” I waved at her. She came towards me and shook hands.
“Hello Summer.” She replied with a genuine smile. Sometimes I wonder who is she or what is she?
“I knew you’d be here. So, what’s up?” I quizzed.
“I’m just back from the job. Well, you say?” She enquired.
“Well, I got the weekends off. So I’m here early, waiting for you.” I replied with a flirty smile. She laughed. We mooted about many thing. She was different but she was common. She was special and she was so ordinary. She was a puzzle. I loved spending time with her. I used to dash out of office in order to spend extra minutes with her.
2 weeks passed with her and I grew fond of her. I realized I started falling for her.
“Why do you smoke? It is killing you stupid.” I told her one day. We both knew we got close to each other so we both do use ‘stupid, idiot’ to address each other at times.
“As if I don’t know that every inch of my lungs is full of nicotine. I’m already dead. Anyway, “Every smoker have a story, so before you say me, smoking kills, I want you to know that there is something which is already killing me.” She explained with fret.
“And what the thing which is already killing you?” I asked her stoically. She laughed.
“Wish I knew that thing, then I’d have already killed it before it started actually killing me.” She answered.
“Why don’t you go out with your friends? I never saw you with anyone. Are you all alone every time? Are you ever really happy from inside?” I enquired.
“Yeah, because I don’t trust friends.” She replied and that was the second answer which made her frown. “I was once in love and he dumped me but the worst part my best friend kept me in dark that my boyfriend was double dating when he knew it from the beginning.” She related. “It’s the rule of Love that after a point of time, it becomes unfaithful but I didn’t had the slightest idea that even Friendship becomes unfaithful. And one more thing, when I’m happy, I never visit the bar but you will find me in some graveyard.” She smiled. “By the way, don’t fall for me, I won’t be around to catch you.” She added and I found her queer.
“I’m not falling for you. I am already in love with you.” I confessed. “I love you Daniel. I wanna make you mine. Trust me, I can be your boyfriend and best-friend and I will be faithful till the end.” I meant the every word I said. I was deeply and madly in love with her. She didn’t respond and looked away. After few minutes, she broke the silence, “I like you but please don’t love me.” And she took her belongings and walked out of the bar.
2 days passed and I didn’t see her at the bar. I was imprecating myself for professing my love and I lost her forever. I found the telephone directory and marked every name which ended with ‘Brown’. There were more than thousands of Browns who are residing in New York. It would be impossible to ring up everyone and ask for Daniel. I gave up hope. Then I remember, she must be visiting some graveyard. I drove to every possible graveyard but I couldn’t hunt down her single trail. I lost her. A part of me died. I was walking back home when my phone rang. I picked it up when I found a familiar but a frail voice.
“Hey Samar. Finally, I pronounced your name in right way.” I recognized and I jumped in excitement.
“Hey Daniel. Where were you? You didn’t show up at bar after that night. I thought you left me as I made you mad. I’m sorry.” I blurted.
“No, don’t be. You should never apologize for truth. And yeah, I’m sick. Can you come to my house?” She said. I can say she was in pain but she was trying to hide it. I noted down her address and drove to her house. I rang the bell and a lady answered the door. I let her know my name and she guided me to Daniel’s room. I saw her and it broke me. She was terribly sick and she was looking extremely pale and thin.
“What happened to you? No lies, please.” I demanded.
“Samar, the thing which was killing me was that my best friend lied to me and I took up to smoking to get over it. When I got over it and decided to leave smoking, it fell in love with me and took every space in my heart. I was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and I had just 4 months to live. The thing which actually killed me.” She took heavy breath while explaining it to me and I listened without interrupting. “I love you and I know you love me too. I wanted us to last but I knew it’s not possible. I tried to fight but my body gave in. I think you should move on and find a great girl who doesn’t smokes, who could live with you. I could have never contacted you but you’d have got hurt because the unexplained goodbyes are really painful. SO I phoned your company, begged for your number and rang up you.” She sighed a heavy breath. I stared at her eyes keenly. I was at her room the whole night allowing her to speak. I couldn’t held back my tears anymore while she was speaking. I kept looking at her while she felt asleep.
It’s been 14 years from now, since Daniel died and I didn’t marry anyone. I regularly visit the bar and I smoke heavily in the memory of her. Still I never understood one thing; I am smoking since 14 years and I am alive and Daniel smoked for just 9 years and she died due to Lung Cancer. I was thinking about her when suddenly, a hot female sat beside me at the foyer.
“Single?” She asked with a flirtatious smile.
“No, I’m a widow.” I smiled as I put the butt of the cigarette in the ashtray and lit up another cigarette.
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