It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever.
Meeting Paul was a bit awkward for Mona. Being the kind of girl who grew up in a home where the man of the house, her father, ruled them with an iron fist. She grew up being the only female child amongst three males. Her mum said she had lost two baby girls, both during childbirth. Her father believed it was an ideal thing to train up children in the 'so-called way they should grow, so they don't depart from it'. A portion of the Bible he sang like a song to their ears till they grew up.
They lived a comfortable life. Her father was a lecturer at a local science college, whilst her mum worked in a bank. Life to them would be fair enough if, they could be allowed to go out and play with the kids in the neighborhood, a luxury they could not afford.
Their life had too many repeated routine that made it boring. And her Mum was too much of a vitreous woman to tell her father to ease up on the children.
So when Mona passed her twelfth grade in 2009 and got admitted in Modern College of Arts, it was a relief! To be free at last, and to breath a different air. She couldn't have asked for more. Despite her father's convictions, that she should study at a local college, she insisted Modern College was her choice. The college was real far from where they lived and so, she had to live in the college hostel.
When she got into college, it was more amazing than she had imagined. From the main college gate to the hostels, it felt like home to her. She knew she'd love it there. After her registration, which turned out to be a little stressful, she resumed lectures.
Mona's first day at the English department was not that exciting, but she was still overwhelmed about being in a college which was far away from home. So it didn't really matter.
When classes were officially over, she decided to take a self-tour around the college. She walked from her department down to the auditorium. Just as she was walking past it, she heard someone whistle.
She had being taught from an early stage, never to answer people when they whistle. That's why she turned a deaf ear and pretended she didn't know the gesture was made at her. She was walking faster, and cursing whoever was whistling, under her breath, when she felt a hand grab her tightly and pull her with a force that nearly sent her sprawling on the ground.
When she gained balance, she looked up, gathering the best look of disdain she could muster, hoping to see the good for nothing that had the audacity to pull a lady in such manner.
"What is the meaning..." Mona's speech was cut short. Not because she didn't know what to say, but because she couldn't possibly say what she wanted to, to this particular human being.
Standing before her was a beautiful guy. She used the word beautiful because that was the only description she could find for a guy, with all these qualities.
He had a square shaped face, complemented with a little-pointed nose that looked as though it could not take in enough air for the bearer. His eyes could be best described as what Nikita; her secondary school friend would call 'Dreamy eyes'. She'd immediately add, 'those eyes that look as though the owner is at the brink of falling asleep'. His lips were the perfect 'kiss me lips', with its pinkish color. The color of his skin was glossy as if he was soaked in sunscreen.
Mona nearly gagged on her own thought. She forgot she'd stood there looking at him for over 35 seconds.
When she recovered from the brief beauty trance, she found her voice and demanded, almost in a screechy tone that made her sound like someone who wasn't sure if she was offended.
"Why did you grab my hand?"
The guy smiled at her, and she nearly gasped for air because truth be told, she'd never seen anyone with such an amazing smile. Then he spoke, and she managed to stop herself from falling. His voice was the sound of slightly splashed water. It was not too husk, but it had that cooing sound, that makes you want to listen.
"I'm sorry if I grabbed you too tightly. I just wanted to get your attention; I didn't mean to upset you. I'm sorry if I did. I was actually..."
That was where Mona stopped listening because she drifted into another trance.
But then his voice brought her back, "And you are?"
"What? Sorry. I'm Mona, and you are?"
Her question was met by a heart-wrenching laughter. He laughed so hard that she had to look around, to see if she was actually the cause of the laughter. His shoulders shook as he laughed, and she noticed tears at the edge of his eyelids. When he was done, he looked at her, smiled and said he was sorry for laughing. That he only did because he'd said his name twice and she nodded to each time.
Mona was totally embarrassed. She imagined the look on her face when she was drooling over a guy! She felt ashamed. But then he smiled and told her his name was Paul. A Psychology Major, in 300level. He asked that they went to a canteen to at least sit and talk.
"That is if you don't mind", he added with such grace that made Mona want to shout, Mind? How can I mind?
But she held herself because she didn't want to give herself away like a girl who can't control herself in the presence of a fine guy.
They talked and talked till they were completely out of things to talk about. They said their goodbyes and promised to meet up after exchanging phone numbers.
That was the day they first met and that was the day when everything started. A month after that, they decided to stay as live-in partners.
A year had passed and here they are. Not 'they'. Just 'Her'. Every morning she woke up, in that apartment, she felt her heart would break into thousands of pieces since he left. She could still remember that day when she had discovered the truth.
A young couple was walking on Maddox Road. It was a beautiful morning. The traffic was sparse and the people minimal. The two crossed the road when the signal turned red and walked briskly to the next lane. She followed them.
They held hands, their fingers entwined. She supposed they were talking about something interesting. Every once in a while, the guy bent to whisper something in the girl's ears to which she giggled and at times made grunting sound only to smile again. From their attire, Mona guessed they were on their way to the office.
She saw them turn at the next corner. She knew it was an old lane and a secluded one. There wouldn't be any office in that lane.
There was a tap on her shoulder at that very moment.
"Mona, what are you doing here?" She turned to see her colleague, Sarah, staring at her with wide eyes, demanding an answer.
"Aren't you coming to work today?" Sarah frowned.
"I'll be there in five." Mona answered and with that, Sarah left the place.
Mona stood looking at the turn for some time and then stepped towards it. She saw them in the empty lane. The girl's back was to the wall and the guy was pushing her back, kissing. There was wildness and hunger in their kiss. In between, they would pull back, look at each other, whisper and kiss again, eacj time, more wildly.
She retraced her steps. Tears rolled and she ran back to their apartment. Her feet hurt in the high heels. But she couldn't stop; she kept running, sobbing, unaware of the glances people threw at her. Only when she closed the apartment door behind her, that her feet stopped and she collapsed.
Now she could only cry and wish he comes back.
Her heart sank when it went over and over the last days, the day when he left. There was no reason! Why? There was no reason!
She sobbed and repeated the words to herself. Can I change it? How much she wished the old golden days return. But she cried for hours and nothing had changed.
She knew it wouldn't change...ever.