“Look,” he said out loud while nobody was watching us. We were sitting on a park bench covered with trees. The wind was slower than ever and the chirping of birds did not sound quite right.

He put his hands on my leg, shook it, and yelled again, “Can you hear the sound of the wind, can you feel it on your skin?”

The sound of birds was like a person at the edge of his life. The sound of birds was like an old man coughing because of the cigars he had been smoking.

I looked into his eyes, moved my head back and forth, and said with a huge smile on my face, “I see you, but you should get rid of this pessimism and live your life one way or another. Love should not take away your life; it should not erase you from this world. Love is about giving; it is not about taking.” But I definitely knew that the way he perceived the world was far different and more complex than I did.

He closed his eyes for a moment and listened to nature, and although there was a dead silence between us, I was able to feel him. Silence sometimes gives you more messages than noise; you just have to listen to it.

After a while, he reached into his pocket and took out one more cigarette. He grabbed my hand and put it on his chest. At that moment, I understood that he wanted to tell me everything that he experienced, but he thought that there was no chance for me to understand him; he was partially right. But he asked me a question anyway.

“Why do people smoke so much?” he asked. “Because people like to make themselves slaves to an object,” I replied. He smiled and continued. “That is very true. People are a bunch of slaves, they are cowards and liars; they always believe their own lies. If you listen to people, they always have words to tell. They even have a definition for love itself.”

He continued with great pleasure. “A lot of people say that love should give you liberty because if there is no freedom, there is no love.” I looked into his eyes with confusion. I told him, “I agree with those people thinking in that way.” He laughed and took a sip from his beer. Again, there was total silence; he was not speaking but thinking deeply. I understood that he was refreshing his excruciating memories.

After a couple of minutes, he turned again and said, “Love is like a cigarette; you make yourself a slave to it; you become its minion. You enjoy it while smoking it without thinking about its further damage. But let me tell you something. Love poisons you; it touches your deepest feelings; it scratches them gently; it finishes you leisurely. When you finally reach the finish line, you have no idea what has happened to you along this journey. The only thing that you will know is that you have lost more than you think you have gained.” He was always talking about the bitter side of love. He was the same person when first met him; he never changed…

I had known him for about eight years. I met him at night at the dinner table. He was drinking an anisette and inhaling a cigarette. He was talking about women, life, and alcohol. I was impressed with his lifestyle, although it was not perfect.

His appearance was not that terrible, but no one could ever tell that he was a well-groomed person. His hair looked messy, his clothes smelled like alcohol and cigarettes, but his bloodshot eyes told many things. I understood that there was something peculiar about this guy, something unique.

After a couple of years passed, we became good friends, but there still was this dilemma in my mind about his nature. I was not sure whether I should help him or not. However, he was not a regular guy that I could see on the streets. He had his own path, a path he described as “dark, gloomy, freezing, and queasy.”

Although he looked like a glum person, he had a childlike soul deep down inside. Not that I actually witnessed it, but I could say that I felt it when there was total silence, especially on the days we were drinking beer at the edge of the hill.

Those days were full of terror, woe, silence, and noise. He was always talking about something, something that touches your soul; something you may think just the opposite. Still, I never saw him as a ridiculous person because his words opened a new window for me, a window through which I could observe life quite differently.

We sat on this park bench many times and shared many things, but none of them was amusing or ridiculously funny. When he called me to meet up, I directly thought that something really nasty had happened to him, something about his family or his love life. He was so pessimistic that whenever he fell in love, he chose this bank to tell me. Yet this day was different. At least it turned into a different one. Do not ever think he said something cheerful because “I am dying due to liver failure and cirrhosis,” he said with great melancholy, but not with regret. What I only thought was the bitter side of love turned him into a minion, which was the truth he had known for a long time.

Two months later, here I am sitting on this park bench again, alone and numb. I have this letter for me saying “read this at the park.” I am well aware that he has passed away, but something is pushing me back, as if I am preparing myself something much more awful than his death.

Here I am opening this letter at last, and looking at an interesting message, a message both funny and engrossing. “Quit drinking, be positive, and love your life.” I do not know whether this is advice or a joke, and I will never figure it out.