Saturday, September 13, 2008

An Orange Rose

Today I saw a friend's photo of an orange rose and felt a bit sad, thinking of another friend way back in my high school days.

My friend was good-looking, played violin, was an incurable romantic and got the most beautiful girl in our class for a sweetheart.

One day I was with him in a rose garden, admiring the orange roses when he suddenly reached out and picked one. I was shocked then I was scared, timid boy that I was, but the guy was as cool as a cucumber. We walked out of that garden, him jaunty and me as furtive as a thief even though it was he who had stolen that orange rose.

To get back at my friend for scaring me, I tried to snatch the rose from him, so we had sort of a scuffle. He managed to run away with the rose but without his sandals, which did not stop him from walking barefoot to his girl's place to give her the rose. It sounds corny, I know, but we were just kids and in the context of our innocence it was cute.

Twenty years later I came back from twelve time zones away. My old friend's family lived in a big city but he himself was working in a nearby province. I met him at a riverside café in the city and saw a faded shadow of the handsome, debonair friend I had known. Definitely life had been tossing him around, and he told me his violin strings had been broken a long time ago. That very night he rode his motorbike fifty miles back to where he was working in the province without stopping by to see his wife and kids.

And before you ask me, no, he did not marry his high school sweetheart.

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