Melancholy is a funny thing. It drags you to some certain memories which never occur they would become ones. I was sitting at the Gloria Jean’s café that morning. Sipped my dark mocha and a memory of Perth. Every single sip reminded me of tons of coffees which I have consumed throughout Victoria Park and university’s cafes. The baristas’ accent, the smell of the grounded coffee, the quiet road in the morning.

How long a painful memory will be remaining still? Is it an unreplaceable creature?

I’m in East Timor and still drinking Gloria Jean’s. Such an irony.

I texted my friend. I locked my phone and breathed deeply. I took my yellow notepad, tried putting some unwritten thoughts. I haven’t even started writing when someone came approaching my table.

“Waiting for someone?”

“Excuse me?”

The barista asked it again. He was wearing a black café apron, a dark hat enveloped his curly hair. Those smiling teeth were the only bright tone of his silhouette. If I was in Australia, I would smile at him and start talking about the everlasting summer or the blue-sky ocean across the cafe. But we were in East Timor where no one wasted chit-chat and stuff with strangers. Eventually, I nodded, and asked.

“Is something wrong?”

He shook his head and smiled.

“I just don’t like working here.”

One question mark to let him revealing the story. That tiring ten hours and seven-days shift. His grumpy bosses. His preference to work for Indonesian. And so on. And so on.

“What kind of work are you doing? I can drive kareta (car).”

I gave him a brief explanation. Two sentences which contained the words of ‘survey’, ‘geology’ and ‘Jakarta’. He was not the first Timorense who asking a job at me. Two weeks ago a guy asked if our office still required an office boy. He would even bring someone else if we demanded another one. I tapped his shoulder and asked for some time.

I became an expert in giving an uncertain promise.

“Will you let me know if you need an employee?”

After seven minutes and three sips of mocha, the barista asked my number. I gave him my notepad instead.

“No, give me yours. I’ll call you.”

I left the café afterwards. After checking his tremble handwriting, I drove my car and promised to myself to not come back for a while. Someone needed to perfect the art of rejecting.

##

Later on, from a way down there in Queensland, my friend replied my text. She just brought the melancholy back. The baristas’ accent, the smell of the grounded coffee, the quiet road in the morning. I could even hear her voice through the words.

“Still missing Aussie I presumed?”