Paradox


Tasnia Shahrin


Bartending can be a tedious job, but the liveliness of all the tourists helps mitigate the dullness. It’s another day of work at the Green Lounge bar, one of the most popular tourist spots in town. As I begin to prepare my first drink of the day, I notice the customer’s face to be familiar. I pause for a while, and observe his details. He looks like a typical tourist with his hat, and tote bag with binoculars sticking out of it. After staring at him for some time, I realise that he is  not reading the menu at all. He is just pretending to read it. He hasn’t turned a single page in the past ten minutes. It does feel shady, but I blame my over thinking on my lack of sleep.

The man ordered a beer, bourbon and barbeque cocktail. I wonder who drinks that amount of whiskey so early in the morning. As I bring him his drink, I take a peek behind his glasses. There is a very big injury right beneath his left eye. Even his right eyebrow has a cut mark on it. I still cannot recognise him, but I know with full confidence that we have met before. I just cannot recall where or how. His face seems weirdly familiar but the memory of his identity seems blurred out. I remember those eyes, but the vision is hazy. I am now one hundred percent sure that my lack of sleep has taken over me.

I am so lost in trying to remember who he is that I bump into another customer and she accidentally drops her drink. As the glass shatters into pieces and the bloody mary spills, my memory finally loses its blurriness. I remember who he is, and how I met him. It came to me in a flash that he was the kind stranger who pulled my bloodied and unconscious body out of the wreckage of the car. Had he not been there that day to save me, I would have lost my life in that car accident. I wonder why it took me so long to remember him, because the trauma of the accident is still very raw. Even though it has been more than ten months now, it still feels as if the accident happened yesterday.

As the woman whose drink I spilled stares at me with her eyebrows crooked, I rush to his table. I wanted to look him in the eye and thank him. I need to tell him that it is because of kind people like him the earth still manages to be something more than just a mere planet. But he is gone. I look around, but he is nowhere to be spotted.

When I lift his glass, I see a big tip and a letter that says, “On the day of your car accident, I had planned to kill myself. But saving your life made me realise the value of my own. I will be grateful to you forever.”

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