“What shall we watch?” I said to my friend, as we entered through the double doors of the Multiplex Odeon cinemas.
“Anything. I don’t mind” she replied. After browsing the film lists for about 10 minutes or so, we settled for The Freedom Writers, a film they said was based on a true story. I was in an ecstatic mood, the day was bright and the mere presence of my friend A was an added pleasure. Her company is always alleviating.
With a cloud of joviality, we left the box office and went over to the Ben & Jerry’s counter to relish in the assortment of ice creams colourfully displayed before going into the auditorium. As soon as we approached the counter, laughing and preoccupied in our own world, I caught sight of her standing behind the counter – a Somali girl, approximately 5’7, of slender build with smooth, well-defined features and a complexion akin to darkening of cocoa on a soft skin, with her black headscarf accentuating her glowing colour. The unusual radiance that emanated from her face was incandescent against her cocoa skin.
My surrounding teemed with a multitude of people, laughing, giggling, kissing, holding hands, queuing at the counters, eagerly awaiting their films in excited movement. Nonetheless, she was, by some means, very conspicuous in that crowded place, and at once our eyes interlocked in harmony -in complete accordance – for a few seconds, after which I was compensated with a cordial smile – a smile that I am, hitherto, still rummaging through my brain to find ways to describe. Her burnished lips concealed a beautiful set of perfectly aligned white teeth that glared when she smiled, hence the added radiance. To say that she had the most beautiful smile is an understatement. Her eyes – the windows to her soul – were of dark brown pupils with a bright glint in the middle. When our eyes synchronized with one look, I had, for one moment, thought I stared deep down into her soul and forged an understanding – an amicable understanding though not by spoken word. Something about her eyes uncannily befriended me and, simultaneously, attracted me. They have an unusual power these eyes. They do. A man of sanity would, with one gracious glance, find himself lost wandering in an unfamiliar territory, all at loss for words and gumption.
Our turn came to be served.
“Hi. How can I help you?” she said, upon which we ordered our Oatmeal Cookie Chunk and Caramel Chew Chew.
“Sacdiya” I said, reading the name on her badge and looking at her. She smiled. I took this as a cue to further the conversation.
“Is that your real name, or one of those names they just randomly put on the badges?” I said, my mind not finding anything else to say. I had forgotten about my friend A, still standing beside me. From the corner of my eye I can see her smiling too, perhaps at the oddity of my question or my brashness at such an inopportune a time.
She smiled again, parting her lips widely.
“No, it is my real name,” she beamed.
“Sacdiyaay jacaylkaagi, hurdadan ka salalaa, sariritiba qaban waayey” I said uttering the lyrics of the famous song. “Heard of that song?”
“Of course, Axmad Cali Cigal” she replied with a fervent urge to prove her knowledge of Somali songs. Still A stood beside me patiently, listening to our conversation, whilst Sacdiya, behind the counter, stood with a scoop and a paper cup in her hands – ready to serve us, but stopped midway as we chatted.
After a while, we received our servings of ice creams and bidding her goodbye went to enjoy our film. Throughout the film, her infectious smile lay in front of me, plastered on the extensive curtain on which the picture was projected. The surround sound echoed the few words she uttered behind the cold counter, whilst her name resonated in my ears…
After the film finished, as I walked past her, I handed her a serviette as she waved me goodbye with one of her smiles. On the serviette – the very same serviette she gave me with the ice cream – was written;
If anything has made my day today, it is your smile – your captivating smile.
…And I walked away still spellbound by her smile.
p.s Second Encounter to come soon, as it occurs.