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The Temple Walk

As I strolled past the iconic shopping mall, the city's tallest hotel, and several bustling arcades that lined the city's busiest street, I couldn't help but notice the indifference of the crowd around me. In this chaotic urban jungle, personal space blurred, and the distinction between a casual touch and a snatch was nearly impossible to discern. Everyone appeared charming, emotional, and intelligent on the surface, but beneath their facades lay hidden depths.

Dressed in a maroon T-shirt adorned with white and yellow flowers, I thought I looked rather dashing. Little did I realize that I had unwittingly become the subject of amusement for some passing girls. They found it amusing, thinking that the flowers on my shirt were meant exclusively for them. It was a bit awkward at first, I must admit.

I once read a tweet that stuck with me: "Travel is more about courage than money." It seemed people were on a quest to find reasons to be melancholic. Did they relish their own sorrow? Were they losing their minds? I couldn't fathom it.

One courageous girl among the crowd decided to put me to the test. Her friends peeked at her from behind a shop's curtain as she approached me. With a mischievous glint in her eye, she asked, "Hey, can I draw a flower?" Before I could respond, she burst into laughter and rejoined her friends. While I had encountered plenty of girls before, there was something endearing about her. Her laughter, with lips curving downward, was a delight to behold, a moment I was grateful my eyes didn't miss.

I had forged many friendships with females in the past. These bonds took time to develop, whether it was a week, a month, or even a year. People needed to realize that life wasn't confined to the past or future but existed in the here and now. There was no need to be overly cautious about every action or to constantly weigh right from wrong. If an action didn't harm those around you, it was probably the right thing to do.

I yearned to approach her and strike up a conversation, to make her my friend. Her friends wore smiles and shared laughter, but my gaze remained fixed on her. All my senses were captivated by her presence. She clutched a black bag, and as the waterline above the shop began to leak, she gazed at it much like a peacock beholding the rain. It seemed as though she longed to dance in the rain, to liberate herself.

Perhaps she, like me, was a victim of narrow-minded family members who sought to suppress her dreams under the weight of societal stereotypes. Maybe, just maybe, she too wished for our friendship. Her words might have concealed it, but her eyes betrayed her. Eyes were indeed the windows to the heart. Emotions couldn't hide, not from a writer's discerning eye.

She was a good girl, and I considered myself a good boy. So, what stood between us? Should I blame the world for this invisible barrier? No, there was no obstacle except for the approximately twenty steps that separated us. She would linger there for at least five minutes, and if I didn't seize this opportunity, I would forever regret it.

Her friends started gossiping about something, and she turned her gaze toward me. She beckoned me with her eyes, blinking twice. It couldn't have been any clearer.

I had a mere 100 bucks left, and I needed 20 for the bus ride home. I had kept them separate. To buy a flower, I needed 50. The flower shop was conveniently to my right. In haste, I purchased a white rose for 50 bucks—a symbol of friendship. It brought a smile to my face.

I spotted a bus approaching, but it had to pass them first, obscuring my view. They halted the bus and climbed aboard. I sprinted towards the bus, attempting to catch it, but it slipped through my fingers. There I stood, clutching a flower with tears welling up in my eyes. I felt foolish, stupid, and utterly insane. I wished I could disappear. But the flower, inexplicably, continued to bloom. I wondered why.

I made my way to the bus stop and sat down. My shoulders were soaked with tears, but I couldn't let my inner turmoil become evident. I had no desire to end up in a mental institution. The flower, remarkably, was still in bloom. I tucked it safely into my bag.

About ten minutes later, another bus arrived, and I boarded it. The bus had two doors, and I chose the rear entrance, taking the nearest seat. When the ticket collector approached, I handed over the 20 bucks, and he gave me a ticket. The bus was packed with passengers.

Suddenly, I remembered a temple a few kilometers away. I approached the conductor and requested that the bus stop at the temple. He agreed, and after a twelve-minute ride, the bus reached the temple.

I stepped off the bus and walked briskly toward the temple. I found a quiet spot to sit and collect my thoughts. My body relaxed, but my mind raced with anticipation. I couldn't return home looking like this.

As I stood and headed toward the priest to seek blessings, a girl stood beside me. But, frankly, I didn't care anymore. The one I had yearned for had vanished. I had no interest in any other girl. I wasn't a deceptive boy with an angelic facade; what was within me was now reflected on the outside.

I turned to leave, acknowledging that it had been a woeful day. But as I turned to my right, I saw her face. Tears welled up in my eyes again, though not from sorrow this time—it was her.

Once again, I found myself rendered speechless in her presence. She said, "Oh! Boy, I think your T-shirt needs a flower drawn on it." It was my turn now. I switched to Sigma mode, opening my bag and presenting her with the flower I had bought. I asked, "Could you draw this?"

Tears flowed from within me, but this time, they were tears of joy. Beauty stood before me, unlike anything I had ever seen before. Everything around us seemed to glow.

She accepted the flower from my hand and said, "See you tomorrow at NFC Coffee Shop near Charles Arcade." It brought a smile to my face. She knew it was an affirmative answer. She had orchestrated the entire situation. The next day, I met her at the coffee shop, and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. She was a renowned social media influencer, a talented writer, and a skilled sketch artist.

With her sketchpad in hand, she revealed a portrait, not of a flower, but of me. She loved me, and I loved her. Together, we bridged the gap of those twenty steps.

Sometimes, trusting the destiny, fate or the almighty is the better than pursuing what you’ve asked for. Having faith in one’s actions can also yield positive results. Nothing is unattainable, and with a change in habits, everything becomes achievable. Just as problems knock on your door every day, so too can happiness, wealth and positivity, if only you attract then the right way.

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