His Blue Door
Mr. Aziz was the old man who lived a quarter of a block from our house. I fell in love at the same time he did. Every Friday evening, my mother would pack snacks in a wicker basket and I would head over to Mr. Aziz’s house. His blue door would be open just a crack and I’d walk through it and into the kitchen. He would smile at me over his newspaper, his cheeks folding with soft wrinkles, and he’d wait for me to set down the basket and arrange the snacks neatly onto a plate. He would stay silent until I had completed this task, and then he’d ask, “How are you doing, young man?”
My face brightened at this, and I detailed my week’s events from the moment I got out of bed each day to the moment I returned to it. I’ll admit, sometimes I added a few details here and there to make my account sound more exciting, but all I really wanted was for Mr. Aziz to nod approvingly and for him to respond with something witty. I knew what would follow; an enthralling narration of the magnificent experiences he’d had in his long life.
One comfortable fall evening when I was meant to go visit Mr. Aziz, I went to visit someone else instead. She was called Leila, and from the first “Salam” I was mesmerized. I tripped and fell head-over-heels for the long dark hair, the serene smile, the glistening green eyes, the gentle, melodic laughter. I needed it all, and at once. Leila became the stars I gazed at as I fell asleep, and the sun that woke me up.
The next Friday I went to Mr. Aziz’s, all nerves and smiles. I wanted to tell him everything about this peculiar, remarkable feeling that made me think of Leila incessantly. And so I rushed to his house, out of breath, and rushed to place the snacks onto his kitchen table.
Mr. Aziz finally asked, “How are you doing, young man?” I didn't even notice he was all nerves and smiles, too. I spilled everything captivating about Leila and I needed not to add a few things here and there.
Mr. Aziz cleared his throat after my jumbled rant, and he too spoke. In a much calmer tone than mine, he described precisely what I was feeling. I was in awe. Mr. Aziz said I was in love, and then he said he was too. My jaw fell wide open to have something in common with him, finally. He said I could call his love Miss Banafshah. It was incredible. We were in love!
And so it began. I would go to Mr. Aziz’s house bursting with the latest news of Leila and he’d patiently wait for me to finish. I talked of the time Leila and I first held hands, and the time she finally yielded to a hug — how warm she was and how with each moment spent together I fell further in love.
Mr. Aziz appreciated my tales, agreed wholeheartedly with the perfection that was Leila, and then acquainted me with his own love. Instead of gesturing his way through his tales as I dumbfoundedly did, hed adjust the pillows behind his back in the rocking chair, intertwine his fingers neatly, and encompass exactly what I was feeling with the right words, the right phrases, the right expressions.
I gazed at him in wonderment, forcing myself to stow away each word, each phrase, and each expression safely in my mind for when, I too, was old.
As a result of these Friday evenings, I came to expect the same response from other adults to being in love that I got from Mr. Aziz. Yet, I was tremendously wrong. I soon realized that the reason I hadn’t recognized the feeling of love when it overcame me was because I wasn’t meant to feel it.
On a chilly spring day, before heading over to Mr. Aziz’s house, I finally built up the courage to tell mother that I was in love.
At first, she laughed. “You can’t be serious! You’re only thirteen. You don't even know what love is. Love is what happens after you get married.”
Perhaps my silent tears implied I might be serious, so mother threw me out of the house and said to come back when I was normal, and not in love.
It was all a horrendous mess! I rushed over to consult Mr. Aziz, needing his thoughtful nods and his purposeful recognition. How dare anyone try to prevent me from loving Leila? How could I not love Leila?
I shoved open his door and hurried into the kitchen only to freeze. Mr. Aziz sat in his rocking chair, his pillows strewn across the aged wood floor, his shirt disheveled, and tears streamed down the wrinkles in his face. I sat down across from him, and asked, “How’re you doing, Mr. Aziz?”
He shook his head, clearly distraught.“I lied to you. You should hate me with all your heart. Take all the love you have for Leila, turn it into resentment, and shed it onto me!”
I was confused. What had happened so suddenly?
“Miss. Banafshah is mine no more! I left my family for her. She promised me love, but she broke me. I built this home for her and I, I waited and waited...but what did she do? She married some man her father believed was better for her than I. She betrayed me. It is futile to be in love, young man. And I am so sorry I made you love being in love.”
How dare Mr. Aziz take my mother’s side? Oh, all those times he preached to me love like I was his friend. He knew best how much I loved Leila.
I stormed out of his house, slamming the rusty, peeling, blue painted door so hard it shook from its hinges. This door, like Mr. Aziz, reeked of tiredness, of antiquity, although once both were beautiful.
And for once I wished to have never loved, for what if I too lost?