From “Kissing all the frogs” series.
I pour two cups of tea, and bring out the cookies my sister brought me from Iran.
My friend is not himself today. He moves too fast and talks even faster. It’s as though his mind is on fire. He rattles off thoughts and sentiments and questions, barely waiting for me to get a word in edgewise. He says:
“You know, everything in this world is upside down and out of order! I love someone and she doesn’t care for me. Why can’t it be that I love someone who loves me, too?”
“I’m so sick of feeling rejected all the time. I know she doesn’t want to be with me, that she doesn’t care for me, but I keep pushing forward, trying harder and harder, and feeling more and more unwanted every time. I know I need to stop, because I’m falling only nominally short of stalking her, waiting for her to tell me off at every new attempt, which of course she hasn’t yet. But I just can’t stop myself! I feel so disgusted.”
“I don’t want to be like this. I want her to love me and let me show her how much I love her and how good things could be when two people love each other. To make things worse, this other person in my life does exactly the same things for me as I am doing for the woman I love. She calls and writes and comes and stays and lingers and follows me with her eyes, but I’m not stirred, I’m not moved, and so I push her away, all the time knowing exactly how she must be feeling. I am disgusted, desperate, and really lonely. Can you tell me what to do?”
I say to him: “No.” He says: “That’s it?!! ‘No?’ You need to help me. You need to tell me what women think! You need to show me how to win her heart! You have to tell me what to do to make her love me!” I say: “I think I can help you love a woman who loves you. But I can’t help you win the love of someone who doesn’t want you. I don’t know how to play those games, so I can’t teach you how. Sorry, I wish I did, but I don’t. I can teach you how to see and hang on to what you have. I don’t know how to go looking for what you don’t and can’t have.”
My friend picks up his car keys and his cell phone and starts for the door. His shoulders are tense and his eyebrows are knotted into a frown and his lips are pushed together into a thin line. As he heads for the door, he turns toward me and says: “I love her and want her to love me, did you get that?”
And as I start to tell him: “Yes, Einstein! I did and I already told you I can’t help you,” I see the flash of tears in his pained eyes. I say: “Come sit down, you! Tell me again why you love someone who doesn’t love you?” He comes back reluctantly, pulls out a chair and sits down to first cry the tears of hurt and pain that have been building up inside him for months. We cry together.
* From Hafez’s first ghazal: “That love seemed easy at first, but happened difficulties”.