Forty-Something Years in Ninaland

The Patient Sikh: Part Six—Coffee Talk


This is an excerpt from a novel. For reference read the following posts: 

The Patient Sikh—Part One,

The Patient Sikh: Part Two–The Wonder Years,

The Patient Sikh: Part Three–Sonny

The Patient Sikh: Part Four– Song Lyrics

The Patient Sikh: Part Five–Your Song

It may be that all the conversations I’ve ever had have led to this conversation. How do I tell the guy that I am in love with, that I am in love with him? What if he walks away? What if he doesn’t agree? What if he is disgusted, by me? Why would anyone be disgusted by me, you ask? There are things you don’t know about me, things you don’t want to know.

Sonny is waiting for me at Espresso Royale.

This is it, D-day. The day my heart might die. How do I do this? Kill myself from the inside? Maybe he will say he loves me too. Doesn’t he care about me? Doesn’t he feel connected to me the way I feel connected to him? What is love anyways? I don’t think I like this love biz whiz.

I’m late, I can’t move my legs and get up from Bruegger’s Bagel shop. It’s right across the street from where I’m supposed to meet him. My future is across the street and I cannot seem to get to it.

What do I say to him? I have a deep agonizing torturous love for you? I don’t think that’s going to fly.

I’m doing it, I’m walking across the street. I’m walking when it says ‘Don’t Walk.’ I don’t give a shit. Run me over people. A green car honks at me, I give him the finger. I have the right of way, I’m not in a car. I see Sonny innocently sitting there, reading the paper. He doesn’t know yet, he doesn’t know that the woman who loves him is going to tell him and possibly ruin her life and their friendship.

“Heya you,” he says and looks up from the Detroit Free Press. I never really pegged him a newspaper reader, he’s reading the sports section of course. That makes more sense to me. Not that he’s not exactly the literary type, but honestly he’s not exactly the literary type. My hands are shaking.

“Hi,” I say and sit down across from him, next to a huge window, a wall of windows. I can see a guy outside dribbling a basketball. There is a woman holding her baby, her cute innocent baby doesn’t know what I’m about to do. She doesn’t know that there is a person in this building who will reveal her innermost secret.

“So what’s up?” he asks and takes a sip of a hot coffee that looks like a mocha.

“I have to tell you something.” I’m not good with introductions and transitions in conversations.

“OK,” he looks up at me in my eyes. “Do tell.” He puts down the brown mug as if he knows this is important and he shouldn’t be drinking coffee while listening to this.

“I have feelings for you,” I say it and look out at the window at a man on a red bike instead of looking at Sonny

“Yasmine,” he says. Here we go, give it to me. “You are one of my best friends, but I’ve only ever thought of you as a friend. That is how I think of you.” I’m silent. There are no tears in these eyes.

“I understand,” I say with all the might in my body. Understand? I don’t understand you, or love, or this awful, jarring pain in my chest.

“I’m sorry, I just…I just…you are my friend.” If he says the word ‘friend’ one more time I vow to slap him. “I love you…” Don’t say it, don’t do it. “As a friend,” he continues.

You don’t love me, you don’t know what love is, I don’t know what love is, this cannot be all there is to love. “I am sorry that I…”

“Don’t be sorry,” he says. Why do I think he’s lying? All those late nights we talked on the phone, when he told me how scared he was of failing. The level of intimacy that we had suggested to me that this could be more than a friendship. All I am to you is a friend. Fuck you.

“I must have misinterpreted…” I couldn’t finish my sentence. What did I do wrong? Why am I so wrong about everything? Everything in this world is wrong and I knew that at this moment.

“I didn’t mean to lead you…” and he couldn’t finish his sentence. There we sat, half finishers of sentences. People who cannot speak in a grammatically correct way. I call myself literary, I’m not. I’m a phony.

I want to tell him I love him. That I’m lonely without him. That there is nothing, nothing, and more nothing without him. Emptiness, a full life of emptiness. I see it now, I will be old and empty without him.

“I have to go,” I  say and stand up.

“Please don’t go,” he says to me and stands up too. I notice his orange flannel shirt is missing a button. There is a screw missing in my head. Every one of us is missing something.

I sit down, I have to listen to him. He is in fact, the man that I love. I hate loving him. I hate him as much as I love him.

“I ruined this, didn’t I?” I said and sat down on the tiny wooden chair that creaked.

“You didn’t ruin anything. We are still the best of friends, right?” he asked, he looked worried. Like I might say no. I was tempted to say no.

“Of course,” I looked away again, this time at the barista, she was making a hot drink, the steam from the milk was rising. My insides were steaming, rising. Is it because I’m not thin enough? I’m not pretty enough? I’m not sexy enough? I want to ask him why, why don’t you love me?

He took my hand in his. “It’s OK,” he said in almost a whisper. “Everything is going to be OK.”

That is all I ever wanted to hear from him. But I pictured him whispering that in my ear. I pictured us. We are not an us. This is us.


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