The time it took a cigarette to burn ll Snapshots in time

I don’t think that the person who this piece is directed to knows the existence of this blog. But if he does, then… I’ll pretend that you have not read this anyway.

The day before I left Stuttgart, I went to see F one last time. I mean, sure, I really wanted to bring him out for dinner but I knew he had things to do. So I went to where I knew he would be studying to say hi and stuff. I asked about his work quietly- we were in the library. We chatted for a little, then he told me that it was time for a cigarette, and he could spare that time.

On the way down, I did ask him about dinner. Sure enough, he was going to study for the whole day. He was rolling a cigarette in his hands as we walked down, chatting about mundane this and that’s.

It occurred to me that he might have been merely using the cigarette as an excuse to chat before I left Germany.

We chatted about his work; about him doing 2 pages per hour of questions. I asked him what his specialty was- partial differential equations.

I talked about dinner first- I wanted to go to Calwer Eck Brewery before walking about Stuttgart, the city I think of as a second home before thinking about home and the people and the things at home.

I sat beside him- a concession towards cigarettes even though I was allergic to the smoke. Because this might be all the time I had together with him.

We eventually talked about all the farewells we had to say to everyone else in the past few weeks. And the silences between us made it clearer than ever that I too, would soon be gone. A mere passer-by in his life as he had been in mine.

Eventually, we parted outside the library after that cigarette was done. I promised to visit if I visited Milan, ever. He promised to tell me if he ever went to any part of Asia. There was a long pause before we said goodbye. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him lost for words.

I waved goodbye to him through the glass doors before he went to his work and I went to eat- my last meal in Stuttgart.

As I walked to the train station, I could finally taste salt from all the goodbyes we had to say and would have to say.

At that moment, I wish I could have lived in the last 2 days- a haze of parties and alcohol and the beautiful lie that somehow we could live like the last 5 months, again.

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