The Denim’s Restaurant, following the same annual pattern, is set in red. Everything, from the curtains to the table cloths, flowers, and even the aprons worn by the waiters, everywhere is dominantly coloured with red – different shades of red. You walk into the restaurant hugging Cindy’s photograph which you are holding tight to your chest, not minding the ridiculous stares by all and sundry. You simply walk straight down to the sixth table, your favourite table, and take a seat on Cindy’s favorite chair, the chair she so much adored when she was around.
You and Cindy had dated each other for three years before Cindy went into perfect solace the year before, exactly that day. She fought very hard to battle breast cancer and struggled in pains every single day; periodic chemotherapy, radiations, and then bone-marrow tests, diverse tests that you tried not to remember. It occurred, at that time, to you that cancer does not affect physically as much as it does emotionally. Still, she went through all these with a smile on her face, making conscious efforts to hide the pains from you.
You knew what she was going through, and the thought that you couldn’t help this sole love of your life, weared and teared you, piece after piece. You cried in solitude while keeping a brave face whenever you were with her. However, with each passing day, her condition deteriorated.
Last year’s Valentine’s day, she had her last chemotherapy session. Immediately after the session, she led you to your favorite eatery to have lunch. She could barely walk, but that smile on her face remained, like a stamp. Oh, how you loved that smile! At Denim’s Restaurant, the waiter handed you a customized menu. The menu was printed in pepper red colour, with golden linings and it had your pictures together with all of your favorite foods on it. The best part of the customized menu was the prices of the food items on the right side of the menu.
Chicken Crisps – 20 kisses
Chinese delicacy – 10 kisses
Periwinkle sauce with ham – 15-minute hug
Potato chips with chicken sauce – 1 promise
As you ordered your favorite potato chips with chicken sauce, she was glad. She looked at you and said, “Scott, promise me that you’ll be happy after I go.” You couldn’t hold the tears in anymore, all eyes fell on you in embarrassment as you sobbed loudly but you didn’t care. You were quite sure that Cindy cared less either. Nothing really cares to a dying woman.
Later that evening, Cindy passed away, leaving you broken, yet relieved at the thought of her suffering that had come to an end. You always remembered her as a happy girl who liked to smile, and who fought till the very end. You could have sworn that you saw her smile in her beautifully furnished coffin. Only that, at that time, you couldn’t smile back.
You are bound by her promise to be happy, you have tried and failed and will try again.
Today is another February 14th, Cindy’s memory pinches your head as you settle down in your favorite corner at the restaurant decorated red, reading her picture and sobbing like you did, exactly a year ago.