He was right there, looking like I had never seen him before – faded indigo blue jeans, a black tee, and black floaters. Too many clothes for a guy who would throw a fit having to wear anything that covered skin beyond his knees except of course when he was going to office. He loved wearing either professional clothing or his tees and bermuda shorts but with me he had always preferred wearing nothing at all.
And now I was seeing him, across the store where I was searching for a dress that would take my roller-coaster of self-esteem to a new high. He was in the male section, talking to a sales girl. Was he giving her his number? Which number? The number that defined his shirt size, waist size, or the size he was so arrogantly proud of?
I tried to look away when what I really should have done is quietly walk out and join my friend and her husband who were shopping in another store in the mall.
There have always been two ‘me’. From oxymoron to a schizophrenic, I have been called a lot of names. Why, even he used to say that there is a side to me that I don’t share with him. And why should I have? Did he take care of what i shared or did he hurt it no end?
He was walking away. Now, one me that was avoiding his gaze was happy that she could go back to shopping. Another me that I never admit to being, never believe that I am, was somehow following him. But no, this isn’t me who is following him. I just want to look at the dresses in another section. i just don’t like anything in this section. And why should I let my shopping be dictated by his presence? Why should I allow him to get to me at all? Why should I bother? This is a free country, I can shop at any place I want, do whatever I want. I am exercising my free will by going to the section I want to go to and by not caring for his presence.
Normally, I would not convince myself so much but this is him and now I am utterly convinced that I am doing the right thing, yet a part of me is digging this blob of a head on my shoulders in the rows and rows of expensive dresses, none of which I had any intention of buying but which served as a good place to hide at the moment. I am exposing myself when I want to hide. I want to hide while I am exposing myself.
What do I really want?
Ma’am can I help you? Are you looking for anything specific?
If I knew the answer to that, would I be doing two contradictory things at the same time and convincing myself in my head that I am doing the right thing in doing both of them?
Dumb. The world is full of dumb people.
Yes, get me a knife so that I can kill you.
No, thanks. I am just looking around.
Ma’am, if you need help, I will be over there.
And then she walked away, leaving me directly exposed to the gaze I was avoiding yet wanting, hiding from, yet attracting to myself all along.
He smiled, the same half moon that had kissed me.
I smiled and then laughed. He laughed too. Just the way we used to at home when no one else was watching.
His secret was out. He too had been following me.
He walked towards me.
I turned and walked away.
Salt and water in eyes can do strange things to my head. I can’t see where I am going. I can’t hear anything except his faint voice calling my name. Clouds covered my face and I could barely figure what I was doing anymore.
I suddenly knew what I had wanted all these months.
I ran out of the store.
There she was, she had always looked good in red but then she looked good in almost all colors and without them too.
I smiled to myself. The sales girl smiled back at me.
Dumb. The world is full of dumb people.
Why is she looking at those heavy set dresses? She never wears anything with even tiny embellishments.
Women. Why do they waste time looking at something they would never buy or use but spend little time in going through what they really want?
Does she know I am here? She looks too lost in her own head.
Maybe I should go and say Hi.
She had called me an egoistic, arrogant asshole.
I turn and start talking to the sales girl.
If she sees me and comes over to meet me, I will not run away. if she doesn’t, I don’t care.
Egoistic, arrogant asshole. This is exactly why she had called me that.
Sir, would you like to try these?
No. I want to look around some more.
I hand the sales girl all the shirts I was holding and walk towards the female section. She still seems to be lost.
What if she sees me and turns away or worse, insults me again?
I can’t just pretend that I didn’t see the woman I have never stopped loving.
A sales girl has come and stood between us. I wait for her to shoo away this scrawny, malnourished girl who is just doing her job for God’s sake.
This woman could hurt me again. After all, she did call me a lot more than just egoistic, arrogant asshole.
I have to meet her once, just once.
She blamed me for everything that was wrong with her life. How mean could she be?
I turn away but then come right back.
The sales girl is gone.
She smiles, just the way she did from her first picture that had made me want to kiss her.
I want to kiss her right now.
She laughs. I know she wants me to kiss her too. I laugh too.
And then she walks away, sobbing. She is really good at this, the games she plays to make me want her.
But you know what? I am not a pawn in your game anymore. Walk away if you will, I will not walk behind you.
Then she runs, I call after her but she runs.
And I run right after her.
Him and Her…
You know I run the marathon?
So if you run, I will catch you in seconds!
Are you trying to tell me that I am not as fit as you are?
No, I am trying to tell you that I am an athlete.
C’mon baby, tell me. Why were you running?
Don’t call me that.
Call you what baby?
That word – baby. You have no right.
Just like you had no right to call me arrogant, egoistic asshole.
What else would you call a man who prides himself on the number of women who went clingy on him after one great fuck?
It wasn’t pride. It is what it is.
Oh yeah! A fact of your life…
Why were you running? To prove to me that you can run away from me?
I am not running away from you.
Yes, it is quite the normal behaviour to gallop out of malls after making the sales girls feel dumb.
What is your problem?
She covered his half-moon smile, with one of her own.