The Meetings

I sat on a long chair. It was an open space building with a red roof on it. It was exactly in front of this campus library building. There were so many students. They laughed, they talked, they discussed, and their eyes were divided into their laptop, phone, and friends. 

My eyes roamed. I was alone looking for someone. I took a deep breath, I found him, I knew he was there. So close and I was amazingly nervous. I diverted my view into the opposite side of him sat, although I knew he was not there. I just could not look at him directly. My heart could not hold that. 

I texted him. 
“I have got here.” me.
“I wore a blue shirt.” Alif.
“Black scarf.” me.
“Which one?” Alif.
“Red dress, at the end of the table.” me.

Just like that then he approached me. He walked quickly toward me after shook his head looking for a girl with a black scarf and red dress. He found me while I tried to hide, to hide my nervousness and liking. I was such a fool, I kept looking to the opposite side to avoid my eyes met his.

Finally, I could not avoid him any longer. He gave me his brief smile. And I was standing there, frozen. I felt my heart pounded crazily. It felt like it wanted to explode. I just felt I wanted to run and hide. I was so nervous and I challenged myself to talk about my purpose to meet him here, although he already knew. I did not want he knew I was totally nervous. I did not want he knew I was so into him. 

“Abang* this is for the orphanage like what we had discussed on Instagram. Alhamdulillah, I just have more fortune. I hope it can help them.” me.
“Thank you. Aamiin.” Alif.

He smiled. I smiled too, perhaps it can reduce my nervousness. He continued the talk then.

“But, we need to take photograph dek*, to document it.”
“What? Seriously? Is it real?” My heart shouted out loud. I really wanted to faint. He leaned closer came to me more close. His voice was really alluring. I still was in a deep shock. How come I got to do a photograph with him.

I refused. But, he insisted. His voice really dazzled me. I could not refuse him anymore since he was so intimidating. I was still frozen, I need to cover up my sweat. Then just it the photo session was done. We continued our talk, of course, I was the one who quiets in there. I felt I wanted to faint.

“So you are from batch 16? English Education?” Alif
“Oh yes.” me.
“Anyway. Are you a volunteer in there where my friends and I studied English every twice a week?” Alif.
I got caught. Oh my god. Was he remembered me? I should keep answering it.
“Oh yes.” me.

And he must be confused about how we befriend on Instagram. How should I tell him? I was confused too by myself being so randomly added friends online. I tried to change the topic before it went too deep.

“By the way, where is the orphanage that you are going to do your social project?” me.
“I do not know it yet, it is batch 17 business.”Alif.
“Okay. It is just not much but I put my heart in there. I hope it can ease their burden even a little.”
“Oh no. We are really thank you. I hope God will reply to your good deed.”

We smiled at each other. I rushed to get back to my office. It was so obvious. Only blind people who could not see that feeling. It was already written in my face without the necessity for me to explain, how did I feel just now. I realized we were just strangers to each other. However, it was not the first time. We met last year when I was a freshman in my scholarship orientation event. He was there. A handsome sophomore who wore the blue alma mater jacket with his name written on it. And I foolishly browsed his name and followed him on Instagram. We met again then by chance. On an English class twice a week I just could adore him, captured him stealthily. What a shame, I acted exactly like he was a famous artist and I was his fan. 

***

Bloomsbury, 2021
Casa Tua King’s Cross
6 pm

picture credit: https://casa-tua-kings-cross.business.site/
Day by day passed. All of a sudden I remembered him here. We were no longer meeting each other anymore back in college. He was busy and me too. We had met maybe only once or twice on events and I could only smile. I could only pray. Nobody except him really touched my heart.

Finally, I finished my study but I still needed to continue too. Thank God, I won the scholarship to study at UCL (University College London). I will not meet him 2 years from now. Hmm, that is life, we will not always get what we want. I needed to study seriously to support my parents in the future also to support my country.

I could not believe that I finally achieved my dream to study abroad. It was very impossible actually for a poor woman like me. To think or to dream that was so outrageous. People called me crazy, ambitious. But, my hard works paid me. 

It was getting dark in here. My roommate and I decided to go to a cafe near our apartment. Andrea and I already stayed here for 2 weeks. We became friends so easily. We enjoyed this city so much. Bloomsbury is a beautiful and peaceful city. Even the name is beautiful. 

We enjoyed the pasta and soup. It was so tasty. Suddenly, Andrea got up from her chair. I looked at her, a little bit shocked about who was coming? OMG. I could not believe my eyes. Andrea talked with him so freely and like a really close friend. I was standing there not frozen but shocked. Doesn’t he remember me? It must be him. The face is the same. But, it just too impossible. Just then Andrea introduced him to me.

“Oh, Sorry Risti. I forget about you because I was so excited to meet him. Risti, please meet Alif.” Andrea.
“Alif, she is my roommate, Risti.” Andrea.
We smiled at each other. Like what we used to do. I tried my best to hold my tears. He did not even remember me. I wanted to go home as soon as possible. My eyes could not hold it anymore. I felt broken in my heart.
“I’m sorry Andrea. Can we leave now?” me.
“Why Ris? We just had fun here and btw what is it in your eyes?” Andrea asked me.
“Nothing. I felt sick, I wanted to get rest, Andrea. Can I go home now? But, you can stay here, maybe Alif has so many things to say.” me. 
“Are you okay Ris?” Alif. 

Finally, he asked me.
“I’m okay Alif. Thank you. But I just felt broken in my heart to see someone did not even remember me.”

I took my jacket and run from there as fast as I could. He was just too cruel. But, it was not his fault though. We were strangers, still. 

Note:
Abang: A call for a young man in Malay society.
Dek: A call for a young girl in Malay society.

This short story was published in Universitas Tanjungpura UPT Bahasa Short Story Anthology 2018.

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