Meeting a stranger had never had such a profound effect on me. Until I met him.
“Hey,” he said to me while I was trying to figure out why I chose this department. I could be performing in Pit Theater instead of struggling with that damned white house.
Scowling, I looked up, and then, I saw him.
His hair was ruffled, and there was this relaxed aura about him. Was he a medical student?
“Hello, are you here to see someone?” I asked.
He smiled, said nothing, and just sat beside me. He brought out his IFUMSA 50th anniversary notebook. Wait, he was a medical student!
Almost like he read my thoughts, he said,
“Uhm… I’m just here to see my friend. She promised to be here by six. Do you know any Lois?”
Is that a British accent? So he’s not a medical student after all. British accent requires lots of effort, and we certainly do not have time for that. Definitely not a medical student.
“It seems like you don’t know Lois,” he said.
Hold up. I hadn’t replied to his question.
Now he thinks I’m an idiot.
I decided to answer him and salvage my first impression image in his mind.
”Sorry about that. I have a weird habit of getting lost in my thoughts. I don’t know any Lois. I’m a part-one student. What level is she anyways?”
“No problem. I don’t think I mind as long as you’re thinking about me,” he said with a smile and flashed his dimple.
Why must he assume that I’m thinking about him? I’m not drooling yet, or am I?
Lord, help me. He had a dimple and a cute smile. And did he just use a line on me?
Maybe this is a sign that you’re ready to take me off the singles street.
“She is in her final year, 500 level. She has a similar eye color as you, you know.”
I didn’t know what to say; he was like those boys who knew their beauty and play their cards well with a lady.
Deciding to play along, “What do you think my eye colour is?” I said with a smile. Two can play the game.
He chuckled. ”What’s your name, I didn’t catch that?”
“Grace,” I answered.
He said it again like he was testing the sound on his lips. “Beautiful name for a beautiful lady.”
A comfortable silence fell in the room. I continued struggling with my notes and left him to his business.
“What are you doing at IFUMSA secretariat by the way?” He asked after a few minutes.
“In case you missed it the other time, I’m a medical student, and I have a place here,” I told him.
“Ohh, that must be nice. How is it going?” He asked again in an attempt to keep the conversation going.
“Usual struggles, you know.”
If there’s one thing I believe in, it’s that you can sit in comfortable silence with someone. You don’t have to fill every moment with words. With my answer, I think he should get the message. Silence can be comfortable, everybody should know that.
He left the room to receive a call outside at that moment. I couldn’t be more relieved. The break was needed before I did something stupid again.
He came back in, and he smiled at me.
“Hey, Grace, do you believe in fate?”
“Uhmm, why do you ask?” I answered
What’s this stranger up to?
“Do you know where the Med rehab Secretariat is? I made a silly mistake. Lois just called me now and said she is at her secretariat. I told her that I was at the IFUMSA secretariat. Then she said she was a med rehab student, not a medical student. IFUTSA not IFUMSA.
How do you cope with all the similar names? I mean, it’s already hard to pronounce, and y’all are still choosing similar names?”
“Wait till you hear IFUDSA, then,” I replied and chuckled.
“Which one is that?”
“That’s for the Dentistry department. We are all sisters here in College.”
He’s here by mistake.
I didn’t know how to feel about that. I just shared a hearty laughter with someone I met by sheer mistake.
Who was this stranger? Why was he looking for Lois? Was he a student?
The situation dawning on me made me more curious about him.
I wanted to hold on to the moment and appreciate the fleeting feeling with a stranger. Lowkey, it felt like a miracle meeting with this interesting stranger. Like a breath of fresh air after dealing with med students day after day. No expectations, no whines, no lies, no stuff. Just two random people in a room who met by chance.
Guessing my shift in mood, he asked, “do you mind showing me to their secretariat?”
“Of course, I don’t mind,” I answered. Dropping all my materials and picking just my phone, I followed him out of the room.
For some reason, I tripped and fell forward. I suddenly felt his arm around me, steadying me to my feet.
I felt like a character in those Korean movies. Those scenes where the guy walks into the girl, and her books fall from her hands. Helping her to pick the books, they look into each other’s eyes and they find love.
I didn’t feel like I’d found love, but I’d found something. I was trying to focus on getting this stranger to his destination and returning to my books.
“Thank you, I guess I’ve been in the air-conditioned room for too long,” I said with a shy smile.
“No problem. I’m with you,” he answered.
I wonder what he means by ‘I’m with you.’ Falling in step with me, we walked together to the secretariat.
“This is the Med Rehab secretariat. Don’t make a mistake next time. Remember, it is the one with T.”
“I don’t regret making such mistake. I met you, Grace.”
He took a step closer and took my hand in his.
“Do you believe in fate?” he asked again.
He took another step closer and pulled me in a hug. Softly he whispered,
“If fate brought us together today, we will meet some other time, and I’ll tell you my name.”
The softness of his breath was still on my neck when he pulled back. He winked at me and disappeared into the room.
The stranger was gone, and it felt like I had imagined it all.
Read other original stories here.