Blue Bench at Regent’s Park – 2

Except for Azhar, there was not a single soul at Regent’s Park that day. He had been waiting for her at the blue bench – their blue bench. Where was she? She should have been there over an hour ago. Only the ambient city sounds coming from faraway Marylebone Road and the cold biting wind of the London winter cushioned his sense of desperate desolation. It didn’t make him feel any better; only less alone. Azhar fought the cold, but more than that, he fought the feeling – an ugly foreboding – that she would not be coming. He missed her so much that he would have easily given up breathing forever rather than deal with the thought of not seeing her again.

She could be down with a cold. That’s it! A cold would not be surprising given the severity of the winter. Or, her work could have called away from London – like it sometimes did. It could be any one of a million things. But there was no way he could know for sure.

Azhar told himself, “It’s not time to worry yet”; a line from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird”, a book both of them enjoyed immensely. But deep down, a persistent uneasiness steadily gnawed at his very soul; an uneasiness that was slowly but surely turning itself into cold, stark terror. He shook his head to clear his mind of the thought. It refused to go away. He tried again, only harder. But it refused to go away.

The darker the sky grew, the deeper the cold bit into him. But his fast descending core body temperature was the least of his worries. His hopes of seeing her again began fading with the dying remnants of light in the horizon. Deep in him, he wanted to believe that Sarah would appear, if only he held on for a few more minutes. But his mind told him that it wasn’t going to be.

Azhar slid the unopened flask of coffee into his jacket pocket, stood up and walked away. After a few steps he turned to look at their blue bench, half hoping Sarah would be there with her beautiful smile – the most beautiful smile he had ever known. All he saw was a blue bench, empty and barren from the cold. Defeated, he walked away with steps so heavy he could hardly move his feet.

Could this be how it was supposed to end? Though they had often talked about the possibility that his day could come, he wasn’t ready to let go – not yet. Simply having discussed the possibility, no matter how often hadn’t prepared him or helped make it any less painful. She still ached for her. He still yearned for her. He knew he always will.

But in his heart he also knew that even if they had to go their separate ways, they’d find each other again – someday.

—— / / / / / ——

From where Sarah parked her car, she could make out Azhar in the distance. He was there, at their blue bench, waiting for her. She wasn’t sure if she could pull off what she wanted to do. Every fibre in her body rebelled against her conscious decision to stay in the car. Her heart tore itself to shreds, her mind losing its tenuous hold on sanity. There was nothing in the world she wanted more than to be with him, to hear his voice again and maybe even gently run her fingers across his cheeks. But she knew she had to stay in her car.

It was that stupid kiss, wasn’t it? That blasted kiss: the kiss to end all kisses – the kiss that changed everything. If he kissed her like that again, touching her soul like no man had ever done, or ever would again, there could only be one outcome: she’d end up sleeping with him. Though everything in her cried out in anguish for that to happen, she knew she would not be able to pay the price. Guilt was the worst thing any human could possibly be made to endure. It was perhaps, even worse than not having him at all. She knew she had to stay in the car.

Even if they were meant for each other, it remained – in this reality, at least – that they both belonged to other people. There was no changing that. If only they had taken a different turn, a different decision, they probably would not have met the way they did – a tad too late. Even so, deep inside her, she was glad that they had met. In a world that was fast turning on its head, Azhar was a beacon of hope; a reminder that she was still capable of love and being loved – for who she truly was.

Watching him from the distance, her heart cried out to him. How betrayed and disappointed he must be feeling right now. It broke her heart seeing him all alone in the cold, waiting for her; and hoping. But she had to stay away; it was her only hope of hanging on to her world as she knew it. After all, if he loved her – if he really and truly loved her – he would understand why she had to do what she was doing. If anyone could love her like that, so completely and so unconditionally, it would be Azhar.

She felt a tear fall down her cheek as she fought the need to be with him with everything that she had. Wiping it away, she saw him walk away from their bench. When he stopped to look at the bench again, she could not hold back any longer. She unbuckled her seat-belt, unlocked her door and burst out of the car. But when she looked up again, he was gone.

As she stood trembling in the bitter cold, with tears in her eyes, she began to smile. An unexplainable primordial knowing enveloped her very being: No matter what happened, no matter how bad it got, she knew he’d find her again.

Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow – but someday – he’d find her again.

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12 thoughts on “Blue Bench at Regent’s Park – 2

  1. After reading this I feel tempted to go to Regent’s Park to see the Blue Bench that has been witness to such a beautiful story, but it is nearly iftar and my lambchop is burning under the grill.

    Kak Teh

    It’s been over 20 years since I was there last, ma’am. I remember it was painted blue. I wonder if it is still blue. In any case, it was near a pond, not too far away from the mosque.

    Have a good iftar, ma’am.

  2. i dont want to rush to the blue bench. i want to know whether azhar looked back again and rushed towards her and they locked up in embrace.
    promise if i ever want to read non fiction, yours will be top on my list.
    best regards

    Ariff Sabri

    You are too generous with your compliments, sir.

    However, I am glad you dropped by for a visit.

  3. i’m glad sarah made that decision. (want to write more but i’m in the lrt)

    Azlin

    You approve of Sarah’s decision, eh? But in your hearts of hearts, do you think Sarah and Azhar can ever be separated? Should they be?

    Glad you dropped by, ma’am

  4. i think they’d meet again, after years being apart, in casablanca.

    Scout

    You know what, Scout? I think you are right. But it wouldn’t take them long to find each other again… not by a longshot!

  5. The romantics will lament endlessly at the conclusion, but it`s classic Zen.To most of us, love is all about having someone who makes us feel good.The Zen way is radically opposite.Never try to use others(including the person we love),control events,or demand that life fulfill our dreams,for that is the ultimate in selfishness.We must heighten our awareness and accept all that is given, and learn to take care of this world we live in,and in doing so, grow in compassion and simplicity…all that we truly need,including love and compassion, comes naturally and the more we release,we become more and more fulfilled.

    Yessir, Azhar and Sarah…relax your grip on each other,for what you are both seeking will be there,ultimately.By stepping back, and allowing the primal wisdom of the universe which runs through all things and beings,which we call harmony, to take over, your lives will be enhanced,your heartful renderings and woeful moanings at the impossibility of your situation healed .Zen promises that which is right for the both of you will come naturally, because ,when we honour and uphold life as it is given, then inevitably, life definitely responds to honour and uphold us.

    Azhar & Sarah…Bless the both of you!

    And Mat-san… another classic,when Part-1 was already deliciously enticing !Bless you too!

    Higashi-san

    How right you are, Higashi-san. Flow like water and be the receptacle; destiny will be shaped.

    If Sarah and Azhar were meant for each other, by yielding to their environment, they will become one. Once thus united, they will never be apart… ever again

  6. Bogart-san,
    What a delicious continuation (from part 1)… Kalau buat movie, sure meletup 🙂

    Ku menyusuri jalan berliku
    Membiarkan hari-hari berlalu
    Tiada salam tiada pesan
    Memaksa diri untuk melupakan
    Namun wajahmu bermain di mata ku
    Tiap waktu…

    – part of Merisik Khabar by Sudirman-

    By the way bro, let have some scones @ Teapot Cafe SS2…

    Bro

    I have always liked “Merisik Khabar” – brilliant song from a brilliant lyricist (Habsah Hassan, I think). And of course, very apt, given the circumstances.

    Darjeeling and scones at the Teapot it is then!

  7. sheesh.. I had waited for so long for another ‘nukilan hati’ from you, that I completely missed this installation. Next time don’t leave us hanging by a thread lama-lama sangat..

    Puteri Kamaliah

    Sorry about that, ma’am. There was a lot of twisting and turning going on before I finally went ahead with this. Hope you enjoyed it, tho

  8. Is it blue? I walked past the park on the way to the mosque last January. I dont know whether its worthwhile to ask Lizzy to take the trip from South London just to check the color of the bench.

    The Last Gig

    I guess you’re right. Doesn’t really matter what colour it is now. BTW who is Lizzy?

  9. If Sherlock Holmes is still around he should be able to go and snoop around and check the colour of the bench since he lives nearby…. was it Baker St?

    Who is Lizzy? Maybe one day I’ll tell you.

    The Last Gig

    OK

    In any case, Mr Holmes needn’t bother; the colour of the bench has long since ceased to be of any import

  10. Good one.

    Life is like a good bento lunch.

    You have to eat up everything in the box – sweet, sour, savoury or bland.

    If you don’t … well, you wouldn’t have really had lunch then, would you?

    Sir Cipan

    Good to hear from you again, my friend. How true! One can’t just take the good that life has to offer and filter out the bad and the ugly. Bet you, though,if you had such a filter, you’d be rich overnight!

  11. I too, am glad with what Sarah did. It was the right thing to do. Am sure her heart was shorn to pieces by a sharp piece of glass, so was mine as I read this. But I have hope for them, .. which I will hopefully get to read in future entries??? Bravo good Sir, bravo.

    Blabarella

    A third instalment is forthcoming, ma’am. I just haven’t figured out certain aspects to it yet. Glad you like this.

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