16. Instinct

“Believe that if Allah (swt) wants you to know something, someone will tell you.”

~ Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)

A decade ago, someone I know (X) saw a picture in the local newspaper. X showed me the picture and said that I should get in touch with that person. It was not someone I know. It was not even someone living in the same country. Talk about someone out of my league, one might even say he was out of this world.

I need to say this. For me, it was not love at first sight. The first picture I saw in the newspaper, didn’t pique my interest because he was just not my type. Other pictures subsequently found through my searches for an address, convinced me of it even more. He was too uhmmm … well I won’t say it because it would reveal too much.

Anyway, I dismissed the suggestion as random chatter and left it at that.

A few days later, X asked me if I had found a way to communicate with this guy. I hadn’t. I didn’t even think X was serious. I was not sure what X had in mind that I should do, but apparently I was not as innovative as another person, who went to great lengths to contact someone they had randomly met on a plane (and succeeded).

That comparison didn’t sit very well with me and I was determined to prove that I was at least as capable as, if not more so.

I scoured the internet (google is good and all, but one must know how to cast a wide enough net and then narrow the results down) using what I learned all those years in university about search terms. (I knew there had to be another purpose other than writing my undergrad dissertation :p).

It was not all that easy and the whole process was a bit convoluted, involving other individuals that I had to contact – strangers who have since become friends.

With much encouragement and gentle (but persistent) persuasion, I wrote to both the addresses that I got, not really expecting any sort of response. I had given, in my note, my email address. The guy was somewhat a celebrity back then (more so now), so why would he be writing back to me, a complete stranger and a foreign one as well?

I nearly fell off my chair, literally, when less than a week later, my “Bejeweled” game was interrupted by a pop-up on the bottom right corner indicating I had an email from Mr Stranger Guy. I laughed out loud and called X.

Intrigued that this person would even write to me, I replied to his email and he promptly returned with another message. We exchanged a few emails that night, before he stopped writing. Two days later, he sent another email, replying to whatever question I had asked in my last email.

For a week or so, that was how we communicated. The day ended with my emailing him. He then replied to that closing email the following day or 2 days after. In one of these emails, he said he was going to be travelling. For the mission, for which he was interviewed (remember the newspaper article), he was going to another country, where communication would be difficult.

It was going to be Eid and he had to go through Ramadan fasting abroad, so I sent him some home-made cookies – traditional ones that we make for Eid. I was not really sure if customs would allow them through. Apparently they did, because he mailed me a thank you card for them.

Upon reflection, it was not his looks that I fell for, nor the thousand other reasons he became a celebrity. I found that all that made him too arrogant. It was his correspondence, the way he communicated, his vulnerability … that was what endeared him to me.

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