It wasn’t everyday that I would wake up early on a Saturday to meet someone who I had never met before. But that morning was different.
I was new to the city and in an attempt to make friends, I had created a Whatsapp group of a few women who I had met on Facebook. I was clearly desperate for company.
I groggily shut my alarm at 8:09 am and got dressed. My favorite black leather jacket from Zara and black scarf with roses scattered across it was my go-to outfit last winter. With my black and gold rimmed Rayban aviators on, I was ready to go.
I walked into Mews and was thinking about how European the look of the cafe was. The wicker chairs outside and soft music playing in the background was reminiscent of 2007, the summer I had traveled across Europe.
When I opened the teal colored door and scanned the sun-lit cafe for a good table for three, I noticed him. Automatically, I chose the table directly across from him. I was almost blinded by the piercing sunlight that was falling directly on my table, but it was worth it.
I tried to act nonchalant and kept my sunglasses on just so he wouldn’t be able to see that I was looking at him too. Fiddling with his phone, he absentmindedly fixed his black blazer sleeve.
His silver watch was glinting in the sunlight as he checked the time. His tall physique was not only attractive, he was wearing my favorite combination. Jeans and a white collar shirt. His short, neatly trimmed hair was perfectly styled. Who was this man?
My heart skipped a beat and it felt like my entire insides shifted as he glanced at me. A menu suddenly slid in front of me and I snapped out of my reverie. The waiter was staring at me expectedly. Not now – I will order when my friends will come, I told him.
When I was about to die from the heat emanating directly on me (with black clothes on, which wasn’t helping), I decided to move to another table behind me. It was further away from him but I didn’t have a choice. My new friends were clearly late. I couldn’t care less.
He shifted in his seat again and looked at me, this time with a small smile. I returned the smile and looked down, pretending to study the menu. It seemed like gibberish to me at the time. I couldn’t think straight. I wanted to talk to him but it felt like my feet were glued to the ground. His friends were clearly late, too. Maybe this could be a great conversation starter.
I think 20 minutes had passed. Or half an hour. I had completely lost track of time and was hoping they wouldn’t show up. I was secretly praying that he would come up to me.
We would hit it off immediately over coffee and laugh at shared coincidences. I would tell him about my experiences as a newbie in Karachi and he would be intrigued. My job as a journalist would surprise him, but in a good way. I wanted to impress him so badly.
I saw a flash of yellow and orange outside the large window beside me. One of the girls was here. I sighed in frustration and faked a smile as she said hello.
As she talked nonstop about her heartbreak and told me how her marriage ended in divorce, I could only think of him. From the corner of my eye, I looked at him again. I was relieved that he hadn’t forgotten about me. He was still stealing glances at me, too.
I wished I could make this girl disappear. Her incessant chatter was driving me crazy. I made expressions of amazement and concern. To this day, I don’t remember what her story is. But I certainly did appear to be attentive. My acting career would flourish if I ever had one.
Suddenly, I saw him getting up. He was on the phone with someone. As I watched him walking out of the cafe, my heart went along with him. I hurriedly looked out the window and saw him pacing back and forth. It seemed as though his meeting was cancelled.
I felt like kicking myself. We were in the same situation for HALF AN HOUR. I had the chance to talk to him. And maybe even have a great time. I could even imagine what he smelled like. A citrusy, woody perfume. Maybe even Tom Ford’s Oud Wood.
He began to walk out of the cafe and I felt my heart sink. I had the chance. But I blew it. One year later, I still regret it. That sunny, cool winter morning is still etched in my memory.
I went back a few months later with my sister and a friend for lunch. I couldn’t help but get butterflies in my stomach as I sat there, conveniently at the same table. I was hoping I would see him again. As if he was sitting there for months in wait of me. The cafe was completely packed that day, but all I could think about was him.
This stranger had pulled and tugged at my heartstrings in ways that I couldn’t even imagine. Who he was, I’ll never know. But the fact that I could still feel this way and wasn’t totally numb because of my past experiences made me feel human again. Thank you, my perfect stranger.