It was the summer of 2004, the end of the year which meant the end of the academic year for students all over South Africa. Making the most out of the weather and their youth, Waseem and a few of his closest friends packed as little as they possibly could and went on their first ever hiking trip.
It was the longest two weeks of Aasia’s life. Days dragged without the presence of her best friend or classmates. It didn’t help that a lot of people she knew were also travelling. She had little to do and so she threw herself into what she loved most: journalism.
Her internship had kept her busy for the past few months. She had moved up the ranks ever so slightly from coffee maker to copy maker. But she had a good feeling that if she stuck around and worked up the nerve to pitch her own ideas to her supervisor, she could hopefully be taken a little more seriously.
And it was in those two weeks when Waseem was off being at one with nature that Aasia worked up the nerve to speak to her supervisor, who gave in and agreed to a casual meeting.
“So, what can I do for you Aasia?”
“Well, the past five months have been incredibly eye-opening for me. I have learnt so much from the department and I understand we all have to start somewhere, especially in the world of journalism. But I was hoping to take on a bigger role. I want to write. I want to pitch ideas and if they get rejected, so be it. It’s all part of the learning process. But I do want to get better. I have big hopes and dreams, and I won’t be able to achieve anything if I’m limited to making coffee and photocopies.”
“You’re right about how everyone starts somewhere. Everyone starts at the bottom. But you’ve been a great sport so far. Maybe, in the next few weeks, you could write something and pitch it. Does that sound good?”
The supervisor nodded his head. “Yes, really. Were you expecting me to say no?”
“I mean, I expected you to make me persuade you at least.”
“You have, over the past few months. You have a great work ethic. You’re never late. Everyone thinks you’re incredibly mature and you got this internship for a reason. Keep it up.”
Aasia felt a warm sensation spread through her. There were only a handful of people who believed in her, none were her family and all were her friends. It felt good to have someone who was much older and more experienced to give her that boost of confidence she desperately needed.
“Listen, I’ve got a meeting to get to but I meant what I said. Give it a few weeks, and in the new year you can start pitching ideas.”
Aasia was about to thank him but he was already out of his seat, heading towards the door.
She sat in the conference room bathing in her happiness, her enthusiasm plastered all over her face. She reached for her phone, about to call Waseem when she realised he left his phone at home. He claimed it was ‘part of the experience of being at one with nature’.
She rolled her eyes, thinking back to the day she waved him off with the rest of their campus friends.
“Seven more days, just seven more days,” she said to herself, anticipating the return of her best friend. In the meantime, she switched gears and focused on her writing.
She spent days travelling between her house, the public library and on the rare occasion, the beach to spend time with her friends. Ideas flowed, she wrote and days passed by until it had been a week since she had her meeting with her supervisor, which meant it was the day her best friend returned.
She knew the group would be tired, no doubt. Hiking was not exactly something they did regularly. They would surely need a few days to sleep off the trip, and so Aasia didn’t expect to hear from them for a while.
But when she glanced at her phone after a full day at the library, she was shocked to see over twenty missed calls from her campus friends. A dozen more unread text messages were there too, but she was too anxious to read what any of them said. Eager to know the reason as to why everyone was trying to get a hold of her, she redialled the last number who had called her.
“Hello-” She began, but Amaan cut her off.
“Aasia thank god. We’ve been trying to get a hold of you for ages!”
“Yeah, sorry I was busy. Whats wrong?”
“Waseem’s in the hospital. It’s a long story but I just thought you should know.”
“Yes, yes. I’m here. What happened?”
Amaan let out a long breath. “We were on a cliff and- well he fell. It was a shortfall. He hurt his arm so we bandaged it up because he said he’d wait till we got back to go to the hospital. But then he started to slip in and out of consciousness in the car on the way back, so we drove straight to the hospital. The doctor said he’ll be fine, so don’t worry.”
A sigh of relief left Aasia. “You scared me. I saw a million messages and calls on my phone and- I thought the worst.”
“You weren’t answering any of our calls. And if Waseem knew that you were the last to find out… well, when he comes around I’m sure he’ll make a big deal out of it.”
That earned a laugh out of Aasia who went on to inquire about how Waseem’s parents and brother were doing.
“Ishaaq is being, well, Ishaaq. Sorting out all the paperwork and stuff. His mother, I’m pretty sure, thinks we pushed him off the cliff and his father hasn’t said much.”
“They’re probably thinking about how idiotic their son is! Thanks, Amaan for calling and stuff. One last thing, when Waseem wakes up tell him… nevermind. Just tell him to call me please.”
The call ended reassuringly and Aasia put her phone away. Shaking her head, she wondered how on earth someone could be so clumsy as to fall off a cliff.
Only Waseem, she thought. Only Waseem.
Happy February yall!
I hope everyone’s January was filled to the brim with positive vibes.
Here’s to February bringing even more love, happiness and positivity into your lives!
Hope you enjoyed the read…