A conversation with a stranger

‘Loosen up. We are here to have fun, remember.’ Her best friend said to her as she put her bag down and went to do the normal pleasantries of saying hi to people she knew and didn’t know and ignoring those she thought obnoxious. She rolled her eyes as she watched her friend go. She brought out her phone to check the time, hoping time would leap so she could leave. But time becomes unbearably slow when you need it to be fast, she knows this too well. She sighed and brought out her lip balm. Out of habit, she dipped a finger into the oval shaped container and applied lip balm to her lips. Tinu, her best friend had often teased her about her relationship with her lip balm. She hardly went anywhere without it.

Tinu looked at her from across the room and smiled, motioning for her to come join her. She smiled back and acted like she didn’t understand what Tinu was trying to say over the loud music. She didn’t want to look miserable cause she knew that would make Tinu miserable and she would be more miserable for making her best friend of 10 years miserable. Yeah, yeah. It’s all confusing, she knows. Not many people understand the weirdness called their friendship. Two very different people coming together to make it work, almost seamlessly.

‘May I?’ a guy pulled out the chair beside her, stood by it, waiting for her to give her approval before he could sit. She chuckled. Looked over her shoulder and said ‘yes, you may’. ‘I like your eyes,’ he said.

She rolled her eyes. It was one of the things she knew how to do best. ‘You haven’t even seen my face. Don’t come and give me cheesy lines, please. I’m not of those girls’.

‘What girls?’ He asked feigning ignorance as if he had no clue what she was saying. It was not the first time a girl would tell him she is not one of those girls. Unlike the rest, he believed her. She looked bored out of her mind. ‘On the scale of 1 – 10, how bored are you?’

She turned her body to him and looked into his eyes, daring him to question her any further. ‘Who says I’m bored.’ He smiled and said nothing. She turned her body away from him. ‘You can’t blame a guy for trying to have a conversation with you,’ he said after some minutes. She said nothing.

‘I see you have company. I was going to drag you with me.’ Tinu said and said hi to the guy next to her friend. She smiled. ‘ah, yes. I’m having lots of fun conversing with my new friend here. Marcus is definitely no bore,’ she tried to hide the sarcasm in her voice and she must have done well for Tinu not to have probed. Or maybe Tinu noticed the sarcasm and was just having too much fun to probe. ‘Alright then. I will leave you two alone’ Tinu said as she waved and walked away. Her plastered smile faded as she watched her friend walk away.

‘Marcus?’ He asked with a raised eye brow. ‘What? You never told me your name’, she said rudely. He looked irritated, taken aback by her rudeness. ‘That’s cause you never asked’. ‘Okay.’ She said. He left the seat he was sitting on and came to sit in front of her. ‘Okay? Won’t you ask?’

‘Who said I want to know?’ He smiled and said nothing.
‘What are you afraid of?’ He asked. ‘What?’ She asked, having on a funny facial expression. ‘I said…’ she cut him off. ‘I know what you said. It’s just a weird question from a stranger.’ She rolled her eyes again. ‘You like rolling your eyes,’ he stated the obvious.

‘I’m no stranger. You called me your friend’. He continued. ‘Yeah. It was Convenient. It was either that or be forced to follow Tinu. You sounded like the less tortuous option’, she gave a fake smile. He said nothing.

There was silence between them. ‘You asked the wrong question. The question should be, what am I not afraid of’. She looked at him as she said it, noticing his disjointed beards. She laughed. ‘Why are you laughing?’ he enquired. ‘Your struggle is real’, she said amidst laughter pointing to his beards. His face relaxed. He laughed too. ‘Don’t despise the days of my small beginnings,’ he said and they both laughed….

‘So how do you cope with fear? What makes you get up in the morning despite fear?’ he asked.

‘Fear makes me cope with fear and it makes me get up. I am afraid that I would disappoint myself and the people that believe in me. So, the fear of doing that makes me get up because I don’t like failing. The fear of dying without haven lived life makes me go out each morning, determined to make the best out of the day even if I am afraid something might go terribly wrong in the day. The fear of waking up one day and finding out I am all alone with no family or friends makes me cherish them the more.’ She stopped and took a deep breath, then continued.

‘The fear of not having the life I have now makes me more grateful for my life and the opportunities that I am blessed with. The fear that I might not get someone to love me makes me love myself hard, but the fear that I might die alone also makes me willing to take the risk of opening my heart to the right love and to the right people. I am often afraid of the unknown, but I fear that if I don’t step into the unknown, I might be missing out on a whole lot. And I hate having regrets, so I often step into the unknown despite fear. The fear that I might not be here tomorrow makes me give my all, to myself, friends, family… It makes me talk to strangers like you and answer a deeply personal question.’

‘Fear! That’s my motivation.’ She concluded.

‘That’s no way to live life,’ he said.

She didn’t look offended. She simply smiled and said, ‘Maybe not. But its working for me.’

‘So, what works for you?’ she asked.

‘Trust!’ he said immediately.  ‘In who?’ she asked.

‘Myself’, he said cheekily. The look she gave him made them both laugh. ‘You must really think you are a superstar,’ she said amidst laughter.

‘It’s Trust in God. I trust him enough to know that he has me. No matter what happens to me, he has me because his love is perfect.’ She looked into his eyes and held it for a while. ‘Hmmm. I hear you. but does it always work?’

He chuckled. ‘Of course not. I’m not some superstar that is never afraid, I am afraid most times. I am afraid I will disappoint my mum.’

She raised an eye brow, ‘So, you are one of those mama’s boys. Sorry, but you can’t have my number after this.’ They both laughed.

‘I am scared that I won’t get a Smart and beautiful lady like you to marry me someday because I’m not worthy.’ This made her laugh hard.

‘But I am serious. I am afraid that I won’t touch my world the way I know I should. I am afraid of so many things, but I let Trust drive me instead. Trust in myself to keep giving my best because my ultimate trust is in God. I trust him to help me, to lead me and to sustain me. I trust him to bless my efforts. So, when I’m afraid I often succeed in getting out of bed because I trust God has my day and that’s more than enough for me to live through the day.’

There was a long pause. She scanned the room for Tinu. ‘That’s a good way to live,’ she said without turning to look at him so he wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes.

‘Excuse me. My mum is calling. I have to go out to pick the call,’ he said.

She turned to him and started laughing. He joined her and told her he only wanted to get her attention. They kept talking and laughing.

‘Shall we?’ Tinu startled her. ‘Yeah sure’.  She stood up and carried her bag. ‘It was okay talking to you,’ she said smiling. He smiled back.

‘So, no number?’ he asked. Still smiling, she said no. ‘If the universe wants us to meet again, she will find a way to bring us back together’.

‘Ah. Sometimes you have to help the universe’. He said. She hugged him and walked away with her friend. She was glad she went and met the stranger who might just have helped her see life through a different lens.


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