It was a sunny December morning in Islamabad. Cool and crisp, usual for this time of the year. The sun felt good. This wasn’t a day to stay indoors. I grabbed the book I was reading and headed to Kohsar Market for a cup of coffee. Sipping coffee in the winter sun while reading a book — and watching people around me — is my idea of having a good time.

At the café courtyard, I settled down in my favorite spot, partly exposed to the sun and partly covered by an umbrella.

She appeared, as if from nowhere, and slowly walked towards my table, studied the empty chair beside me, and then looked at me as if asking for permission to sit down. I stopped reading, smiled at her and said a tentative hello. She kept looking at me impassively, said nothing, and then quietly slipped into the chair facing the sun. Without a word, she closed her eyes and seemed to doze off. I tried not to stare, but couldn’t help sneaking a peek at her every now and then. I could see her body heave gently as she breathed. I continued reading and sipping my coffee.

Finally, as I got ready to leave, she opened her eyes, looked at me quizzically as if wondering why was I leaving. I chose not to say anything. She yawned, stretched lazily, got to her feet, and slowly — almost reluctantly — started to walk away. After a few steps, she stopped, turned around, looked at me briefly as if to say “goodbye, my friend!” and continued on her way out.

Even though we remained in our respective worlds while we sat together, she brought a sense of calm to an already beautiful morning.

To see her picture, scroll down the page

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