I received a phone call from a cousin and he wanted to see me in just an hour’s time. My first instinct was to say it was too short notice but there was something in his voice that made me decide to see him in the time period he requested. I did not want to regret later that I should have been there for him but was too consumed with my own schedule that I could not. I also assumed the topic he wanted to discuss was important to him. So I obliged and met him at a coffee shop. Actually, I was there 15 minutes before he arrived. He gave me a quick hug and that was strange because he never did that before. Out of curiosity, I tried to find something I could read from his mind on his face to determine what was bothering him.
There was no clue in the expression of his face. There was a small talk between us for the next five minutes and I wondered what the meeting was all about. However, I did not pressure him to reveal his “urgent” request to see me in a short notice. The “small talk” went on for an hour and to my surprise, he got up and said he must go. I had only seconds to decide whether to ask him the reason behind of our coffee chat or just drop it. I decided to just drop it and let him go.
I think he dictated the puzzled look in my face. He patted me on the shoulder, smiled and said thank you before taking off. He left me scratching my head but I was not angry about it, just curious. I decided to forget the whole thing and move on with the rest of the evening.
I went to get another coffee and settled back at the same table and watch the crowd going past. Just a few tables away, there was a middle-aged man who was sitting alone looking very miserable. He just stared into the empty space in front of him. It was at the moment the whole mystery was revealed to me.
The man was fighting internal demons in his head. His thoughts obviously were running wild and it reflected in his body language. Then I put the pieces together. My cousin did not want the demons in his head to play havoc with his brains. He wanted to flush them out so he could find peace in his thoughts. I was a phone call away. I was a channel of distraction and a bridge for his demons to use to leave him. What I assumed was a small talk, to him was an important strategy. He knew exactly how to solve the problem.
If not for me, he would have ended up sitting somewhere in the corner of his house, feeling miserable. Just like the man who was sitting next to me at that coffee shop. A funny thought entered my thought then. Maybe I should join the man and engage him in small talk? Maybe that would help him fly away his demons. Perhaps he would not appreciate it and it might be interpreted differently. The thought must have split my face into a mischievous smile. The man saw me and thought I was making fun of him. He immediately got up and left.
I was left there to ponder about it further. My cousin used an old technique that some of us never think of using when we are faced with dead ends. I was a tool to settle his conflicting thoughts. I was glad I did it for him without questioning him about it. I also left when I had no further use of the coffee shop. It served its purpose. Not just for my cousin but knowing I was there when he needed me.
Saleh Al Shaibany