“Excuse me, do you mind if I share this table with you? All the others are taken.”
You look up and see the woman of your dreams. In live color. In the flesh.
“Of course, you may have that seat. Nice to meet you, my name is…”
She mentions your name before you can even finish.
“Wow, you know my name? Have we met before?”
She smiles. “Many times. But I don’t think we’ve been introduced properly.”
She introduces herself.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Revelle”, you respond. “Would you like something to drink?”
“That would be lovely,” she answers, a shy smile on her face.
The waiter brings over a bottle of mineral water and you both watch the bubbles gleam in the light.
“If you don’t mind my asking, what brings you here?”
“I’m waiting for someone,” Revelle responds. “A long lost friend”
“Ahh. And what might this long lost friend look like, so I can help you keep watch,” you offer
She looks at you intently. It feels like she’s piercing through your soul. Your heart skips a beat.
“He’s amazing,” she finally says after a minute or two.
“You know how you can meet that one person and just know that you are the answer to the question they’ve been asking all their life?”
You nod your head in response, even though you haven’t the slightest inkling.
She thinks too highly of herself, you think to yourself
She echoes your thoughts, “I know, it probably sounds self-assured, maybe a little conceited. But that’s exactly how I feel about him.”
Mentally, you downgrade her potential from love interest to friend. She’s obviously crazy.
Instead you say, “How so?”
She gives you that piercing look again. The kind that bores to your soul and strips you naked of all your pretensions.
“We used to be childhood friends. Inseparable. He enjoyed telling me his hopes for the future, and I enjoyed listening to them.
I knew he was special from the moment we met, and that we would have a long journey in life together. We would conquer the world, he and I. I had no doubt about it.
Time passed, and our communication began to falter. First was school; he was always in school, head buried in textbooks. And when he was not in school, he was trying to live up to society’s expectations. To be the man he was expected to be.”
A slight shiver runs down your spine. You, like every man on the planet, understood all too well what such expectations could do.
“I got it. He was growing up, coming into his own, had different responsibilities, maybe different hopes. But that didn’t stop me from missing him. From wishing he would call or see me more.
Sometimes he did, and oh, what a lovely time we had together. Just us two, away from the world. Like old times, he would share his hopes, and I would listen and wish them real.”
She paused to take a sip of water and you notice tears are welling in her eyes.
Oh gosh. How did I end up with the estranged ex?
“He eventually finished school and that’s when he met her. Tuma. He claimed she was all he ever wanted in life. His dream come true.”
Her lips quiver, the way a child’s does right before a good cry.
Please, please, please, don’t cry, you pray silently, as your eyes dart self-consciously around the restaurant.
After a few moments, she continues.
“They became want we used to be. Inseparable. He was always with her, practically living and breathing her.
But why wouldn’t he? She was alluring, very beautiful, very smart. She seemed to be his good luck charm, because once she entered his life, he seemed to have it all – the money, the fame, people adored him.”
“Well, its possible people adored him because of the money or even because of her, and not necessarily for who he was,” you interject.
You knew the scenario all too well.
“Yes.” She responded. “I thought so too. But what could I do? I wanted the best for him, whatever he deemed it to be.”
“You know how you meet someone and have a strong connection with them? You want the very best for them, for them to succeed in all their endeavors, and above all, for them to be happy.
While others might give them a standing ovation on their achievements, you give them a hug. You say, “well done my friend, but the best is yet to come”.
You’re always looking to their potential. And you believe without a doubt that they can reach the heights of that potential.”
She looks into your eyes, awaiting your response.
“Yeah, I believe I recognize that. Some people would call it love.”
She smiles. “Then love it is. I loved him dearly. Even though he didn’t always pay me mind, even though he was focused on someone or something else.”
“But is that anyway to live,” you ask? “To put your whole existence on the line for someone who has forgotten you even exist? Excuse my saying lady, I barely know you, but you look like you have so much going for you. Surely there’s someone else out there who can recognize this.”
Her eyes search your face, as though looking for an answer.
“It might seem so. But you see, I know why I was birthed into existence. For him. To support, love, and help build him into the best he can be. Some would call me too much of a traditional woman, but essentially, that’s why I exist.”
You’re confused. They always did say that a woman in love could be loyal to a fault, but you never imagined such a woman would be sitting right in front of you one day.
“Forget him,” you tell her. “Move on with your life, find someone else.”
“I can’t.” she responds. Silence descends on your table, and the hum of speech from other guests seems to escape into the background.
After an eternity she says:
“It was never about me, was it? Never that I had failed you in some way or form. It was always you. Scared about what might become if we revisited what we used to be – when you shared your daring hopes with me and actually believed you could make them be.”
“Excuse me?” you say looking around. “You’re talking to me?”
“Don’t you recognize me? Look hard. Think back. Everything you wanted to do, everything you wanted to be. They say children know nothing, but that’s only because they only know what’s important. You had dreams. You had me. But you got caught up. In work. In life.”
You stare at her. The gentle contours of her face. The bridge of her nose. And her eyes. Looking at them, you felt like you were swimming in a wide ocean…of your dreams.
“It’s you,” you mutter softly.
She smiles. “I promised you I would never leave you. I’d always be here for you. And I am. Whenever you’re ready. I just came to remind you, that you can do this: chart your own course. And that you are worthy of me.
The day Allah breathed life into you, he charged me with sticking by your side until the very last of that breath escapes you. Some people call me purpose, other’s destiny. You chose to call me “dream”.”
“Revelle,” you murmur “Rêve-elle.”
“Yes. Rêve, the french word for dream. That’s what you used to call me, remember now?” she responded.
“I do, I do. I’m so sorry, I forgot all about you. How could this happen?”
“It happens. But like I said, I’m always here. While I might not be able to call you, I do send SMS reminders to your heart. That you still have me. That we’re still destined to conquer this world together.”
“But who’s Tuma? I never really was serious about any woman,” you say with a sheepish grin
She rolls her eyes, in the way that says, “You already know”
“Of course. I was always working,” you say smacking the side of your head.
“I see you haven’t forgotten your Dagbani,” she laughs. “Well, I’m sure you have a lot to think on. I will excuse myself. But remember, I’m always here for you. I always believe in us. And you are more than worthy because God thought you so.”
You look up to say thank you. But there’s no one in the seat across from you.
“Excuse me sir, your fortune cookie” the waiter says out of nowhere.
You open it up.
Two words against a white background:
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.