CNF: The Neighbourhood’s Chandelier

When I was little, my older brother and I used to go to the bakery every day to buy bread for school sandwiches. There was a small shop that you can barely see from the other side of the road right next to the Bakery. We used to go there and buy some sweets, stickers for my brother’s soccer players album, and drink some coke. The shop owner was coloured, quiet, and welcoming. Her warm smile made us regulars. She never complained if we hesitated for too long because each had only one pound.

I always pass her by till now, and whenever I see her, I remember how she was always sweet. She is still as quiet as before, yet older, of course. Her wrinkles though did not change her face much. I always greet her when I stroll next to her unchangeable small shop. Then, a thought struck my mind a couple of days ago: what if this lady deceased? What if she never knew that I …. love her! Many years had passed since I first saw her, and in some time in the future, I will pass by her shop, and I will find it closed because she is now gone. The thought broke my heart. I felt like a part of my history will be washed away.

Ironically, I don’t know her name. That is surprisingly unacceptable. How could this be? I’ve known this lady since I was 10, and after 15 years I don’t know her name? I cross in front of her shop almost twice per week. That’s a shame. I blamed myself for all this and pushed all the thoughts away from my head. What could I tell her? She’ll probably never remember who I am anyway.

Yesterday, I was buying some bananas and I came across her shop and I greeted her as usual and continued my way. I realised how comforting it is to see her just sitting there attending to her goods, smiling, welcoming, warm. I decided to turn back and walk those 5 steps and tell her everything. I will tell her. What’s the worst case scenario here? She won’t remember me? I don’t remember me when I was 10, let’s be realistic here. I stood right in front of her, and I opened my mouth, but words won’t come out! She was staring at me calmly, as usual, waiting for me to talk. I gathered my thoughts and said “You probably don’t remember me, but I always came here when I was little with my brother to buy sweets” She smiled and told me “I remember you, you were too thin” A childish smile crossed my lips and I said that I love her so much and that I love seeing her sitting there whenever I pass by. Her smile grew wider, she almost laughed and replied “You can still come anytime you want. I’m always here for you dear.”

This last sentence made my mind travel hundreds of miles and come back in a one split second. How could she tell me that so easily? I’ve known people for years, and no one ever said this, no one even pretended to be. I realised that I was silent for a while now. She asked me about my name and I thanked God she did to ask her the same question. Her name is Thuraya. Her voice was remarkable, sad, and deep, but her glowing smile made me forget all that. Thuraya is an Arabic name that means chandelier. Now, this makes sense, doesn’t it? I greeted her again and thanked her for her time. She advised me to take care of myself, and I walked away from my neighbourhood’s chandelier.

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