They say time heals all wounds. They didn’t say that these are the wounds that can be reopened in a heartbeat, even after being closed for years. And this was one wound — of a great many others — that I never wanted to touch, or look at, ever again in this and all my other lifetimes to come.
It was a perfectly normal good Sunday; I had found the black Charles & Keith shoes to add to my collection of Shoes For Work, and at a reduced price at that, and I had managed to buy the dress from Warehouse that I had been coveting for a while now. I was about to watch G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and had been able to procure tickets without fighting the unwashed masses. I was content.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone walk a step closer towards me and say, “Hey, hi!”
My brain didn’t tell me to ignore him. It didn’t tell me to walk away. It didn’t tell me to give him — or the girl walking a foot away from him — one of my nasty looks and say something scathing. It told me to be polite and reciprocate his greeting; after all, the man had already slowed his walk to a stop to speak to me. So I obediently said, “Oh, hello.”
And then I kept on walking.
I knew it had been rude of me to do that; I might as well have pretended I hadn’t seen him, instead of doing a lofty “Hello” and sailing right by even though he had clearly meant to follow up with perhaps a “How are you?”. It may have been because he was with someone whom I can only assume was his girlfriend, and I didn’t want to detain her by making small talk with her boyfriend. It may have been because I had resolved long ago never to set eyes upon him again for as long as I lived, and I had lived up to that resolution faithfully for the past four years. It may have been because, even in those two seconds my glance had fallen on him, I could already feel the sting on my cheek that always lingered for a while whenever it pleased him to raise a hand to my face. Whatever the reason, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stand there and hold a conversation with him and live with myself.
Admittedly, there are moments when I feel a smidgen of shame for how I behaved. I could have been the lady I always try to be and said, “Oh, hello. How are you?” I could have smiled at the girl with him and shaken her hand. I could have introduced the man I was with to them. Instead, I chose to give in to the memories of the pain, the anger and the fear — the memories that still make me flinch whenever Afham lifts his hand to touch my face or hold my chin. And with the memories came the realization that the wound had never fully closed in the first place.
The upside of this is that the dinner invitations that have recently surfaced have now stopped.
I suppose some cuts run too deep.