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She ran her fingers through her hair. “You have been one crazy boy!” Image Credit: Unsplash

Rita flew around the ice rink, enjoying the sunshine. She’d left her bag, with the library book in it, at the kiosk. Music boomed out as she looked at barges on the river and shoppers laden with boxes and bags passing by. It had been a few months since Rita had last skated, but she’d learnt as a child.

Ever since an aunt had given her and her twin sister a pair of ice skates, a joint present for their tenth birthday. Never mind that they had different-sized feet. The skates were too small for her.

I thought of her this week. Rita was my college friend in the UK back in the day.

This weekend, I was hoping to go shopping. I didn’t expect a sudden encounter. I was looking shabby and grungy. And then a special friend called up. We need to meet, I was told. I couldn’t say no. I am glad I didn’t say so!

Dubai’s food scene

We went to a restaurant built upon aesthetic woodwork in Dubai. The emirate has a brilliant food scene and is home to several Michelin star restaurants. We settled in the cosy place. The food didn’t matter much but the environment and the company was lovely. I could have hung on for ages. The crooners and the music they made was sensational.

Most of the songs they sang were my favourites. For a while my pallet forgot to function. It was astonishing to hear them sing in so many different hues. It was a shame that the two hours of dinner ended as quickly as a cat can blink her eye. This was one of the most enjoyable times I had after such a long time!

I must add that it is so important to find good friends — friends good at heart. And my newest friend has been quite comforting that way. We seem to have clicked so well and I hope I go on like this.

The bond has none of the artificialities of the parties I usually go to, none of the gloss of the company I keep, and none of the affectations of my professional rigour. This is different. It has none of that fakeness. I could feel the warmth, one can warm by and those stealing glances.

There is something my friend said to something I must have mouthed.

“You are crazy, Ahmad”.

Hard as I tried to, I couldn’t quite remember where I had heard that expression before. For a while I became distracted, trying hard to recall where and when I heard that expression — said to me in more or less the same tone.

My mind was agog

At night blue-brown images of the evening flickered in my mind as I lay on my bed reading ‘Clash of Fundamentalisms’ by Tariq Ali, the last great leftist intellectuals of our times. He dissects various fundamentalisms in his book. It is an interesting take on global politics, but was mind was agog.

And then my thoughts meandered back to Rita — 1980s, UK.

That sunny day she took in my curly black hair and tanned skin. “I’m at Queen Elizabeth’s College. I want to go to uni next year too. What are you doing there?”

“Oh, me, astrophysics. I guess you think that’d be boring?” I must have said.

“Oh, er, not really.”

“Well, it is!”

Rita, I recall, took out her library book. “Hey, look at this.”

“Wow, The Encyclopaedia of Witchcraft and Magic. That looks really old … and scary!”

“It was an assignment. We have to make a time capsule, you know, stuff to summarise our era and society.”

“What, then blast it into space?”

“Ha, no, bury it. That’s the idea.”

“Nothing would give me greater pleasure! … Rita?”

Rita ran her fingers through her hair. “You have been one crazy boy, Ahmad!”

Ahmad Nazir is a UAE-based freelancer writer