The Unfinished Coffee
"What would you like to have sir?"
"One caramel mocha would be fine and no whip cream please. Here is the six dollar for the mocha and could you please serve it on that table near the window."
"Not a problem. Make yourself comfortable", I said.
It was the first day at my new job.
It's been nine years since I've reached this country. The beautiful land of Europe has given me and my family a home away from the gun fires and war. It was pretty hard for the first few years. The nine year old boy with blue eyes and a 60 year old grandma in the refugee camp were terrified by the boot sounds and the foreign language. But now it is all different. I live with my grandmother now in our own small home. I am enrolled in a university as well as doing part time jobs for living. I miss my parents whom I lost in the war back in my home country. But this is a new journey and my grandma is my only family left.
"Here is your caramel mocha sir."
"Thanks boy. Are you from Syria?" I hated that question because it was a part of my life which I was trying to erase from my memories.
"Yes...I am from Syria..." I tried to get back to my station to avoid further questions about the war and riots.
"I am also from Syria."
That was something pleasant to hear.
"I am Wahid. I came here nearly 40 years ago. I live in the next street. Are you here with your family?", the old man asked in an excited voice. I don't know why but the moment he told me he was from my home country, I was also excited. May be because we shared the same pain and wounds in the heart.
"I am Ali and I live with my grandma. We reached here a few years back."
The friendship started there and he became a regular customer. We talked about many things...life back in Syria, how Europe had changed our lives, the Syrian cuisine, our lives and lots and lots...He was becoming a part of my daily routine and I would wait for those evenings when I could simply sit and talk with him in the not so busy café. He cared for me and I realized that our relation was growing. He brought me Syrian delicacies which were mere memories for me and took me back to those old days.
One evening raindrops were hitting the windows and I served him hot coffee. He seemed to be lost in thoughts. The coffee aroma must have woken him up and he asked, "Ali, have you ever fallen in love". I smiled and said, "Not yet." He had a childish smile on his face then. He took out his wallet and showed me a photograph. "This was taken when I was 14. Do you see the girl with blue eyes standing next to me? She was my neighbor. I wanted to marry her. I fell in love with her blue eyes when I was ten. We were so close but the war separated us. I am not even sure whether she is alive now. Your blue eyes remind me of her." He stood up. I realized he was weak. "Goodnight Ali." He left and the coffee was still steaming.
By the time I reached home, it was raining heavily. My grandma was cooking hot soup for me. "Can you get my glasses from the table dear?" Her table had some books and some old photographs. There was the little me, my parents and some other pictures. In the midst of those pictures were a blue eyed girl smiling and a smart boy...the same picture Wahid had in his purse. My grandma had blue eyes which I completely forgot. There were butterflies in my stomach. The world seemed to be more beautiful. "What if they still love each other? What if I can reunite them? Love will find its way", I thought.
I was never ever excited to be at work ever since I'd joined. I had a clear plan. I would take Wahid for dinner at my home and see if they recognized each other. I had seen a smile when I asked grandma about the picture. "That is Wahid, a friend of mine". That's all what she said but I could read a story of teenage love from her blushing face. The clock struck 6 and Wahid was not there yet. It was closing time and still he didn't come.
"Ohh...Ali...I forgot to tell you" my colleague said. "That old man...friend of yours...he passed away last night. Poor chap. He was a good customer."
I looked up in the sky, "I will not cry." Two streets away, grandma was making mushroom soup for my unknown friend. Wahid's favorite dish.