“She wants to style it, do something exciting with it,” Iman remarked casually, glancing at the framed photo resting amongst the tea cups. I smiled, thinking that the sombering pall of old age refused to dampen a woman’s need for vanity.
“That is, before it falls out from the chemotherapy.”
We walked outside, struggling with helmets which now acted as anachronistic relics left over from our childhood and pedalled off. An all too familiar feeling of childish exuberance enveloped me, reminiscent of my childhood.
Back then, we took advantage of the fact that the car-park was always empty on Saturdays. My mother’s cries caused me to skid to an ungainly halt; breathless and with the reckless overconfidence of childhood, yet the lure of the speed bumps which remained tangible barriers to my sense of satisfaction always brought me back.
Faster, towards the bumps. Any hesitation would only be detrimental.
A slight jolt and that was it! I flew over like a bird.
A photograph fell out of my wallet and Iman picked it up.
“They’re my cousins.”
I agonized over the disconnect which seemed to be an inevitable part of having blood relatives estranged by distance. At first, I remembered, it was a novelty for my relatives, who could hardly reconcile the young girl with the lady standing before them. I was fussed over, pampered, and spoilt like a poodle at a dog wash.
We left for the airport, the reminders to stay in touch trailing behind like balloons gently buffeted by the wind.
I made a half-hearted effort before distance overwhelmed us like a greedy, monogamous lover and cast a passive lull over any burgeoning plans which drifted back into their lazy inception.
At first, guilt seeped in, raw and forbidding – only to be replaced by a passive lull of indifference as the days passed by.
Iman stared at me, her thick eyebrows drawn into a puzzled frown and I suddenly realized that I had been standing motionless; lost in reverie. She had a new boyfriend these days, and I couldn’t help but feel slight pangs of jealousy as I mourned what I perceived to be the loss of my best friend.
“They’re doing well.” A blanket statement to cover up an indiscernible loss.
I smiled at Iman and tucked the photograph back into my wallet where it sat untouched neither by sentiment or the elements; a keepsake just for show.
I pedaled away, allowing the wind to buffet my hair into wildly improbable shapes as I glided towards what I perceived to be an uncertain future. Anything was better, I reasoned, than irretrievable moments lost in the past.