Komitas stepped out of the hotel, raised the collar of his coat, put his hands in his pockets and walked fast and flexible. It was in the middle of December. The streets of Paris were surrounded by the cold. And the Parisians shut their doors and closed their windows during the day. Few people passed by. Komitas noticed a wallet by the turn of the street. It was shabby and worn-out, its content was poor, with only 10 francs in it.
“The poor man has lost it,” he sadly thought and looked around. “He lost the living he made for these cold days, he will look for it, he will come back… He’ll come now,” he convinced himself and looked at his watch. It was quarter to 12, and at 12 o’clock he was invited to dinner at Margaret’s.
“I’ll wait a little,” he decided and started to walk calmly back and forth to the turn of the street, carefully looking at the few passers. And he was convinced that the man would come and immediately recognize him. “It’s a sad thing for a person not to have the living of the day,” thought Komitas.
He recalled Berlin.
It was in 1896, again during winter, it was his first winter of him studying in Berlin’s Supreme Music School… The monthly pension that the fund sent them was over, he was waiting for the next one, but there wasn’t any. He came out to borrow some from an acquaintance, but his conscience wouldn’t allow him to knock the door to ask money for food, so he aimlessly walked around the streets of Berlin. Suddenly he noticed a half mark by his feet, he took it and he was confused, what could he do with it? With a half mark he can go neither to a pub, nor to a shop.
And with that half mark he bought a lottery ticket and won one hundred marks.
Then a great idea shone in his eyes, he was happy as the owner of the wallet hadn’t shown up yet, it was good that he hadn’t arrived yet, or else it would have been too late. And he took out of his pocket one hundred francs, exactly one hundred, quickly opened the wallet and put the hundred francs in the depths of it under the 10 francs. Then he smiled, rubbed his hands, took a deep breath, he breathed as a person who just got free from his heavy debts and with his breath he realized, that 10 years ago the hundred marks he won from the lottery, secretly, he considered it as debt.
“Why?” he tried to understand. “Why a debt?”
“Because one hundred people were disappointed by the lottery, but I won, and now that hundred mark is mine.”
“He’s late,” he said in such tone as if he wasn’t waiting for a random stranger, but an acquaintance, who he made plans with to meet him right there, at the turn of the street, at that exact time, but who knows why he’s running late, not coming… But he would definitely come, and he has to wait, he is obliged to.
“Maybe he doesn’t even realize he has lost his wallet. He’ll find out, he’ll come, it’s cold, if only he’d come sooner.” That winter day would host one million and one people in the world, it had one million and one dinner invitations (one being Komitas), one million and one people have bought theater tickets, one million and one people are working, one million and one people are thinking, cracking their heads, one million and one people are dying, one million and one people are born… On that winter day and time there’s a man in the world, just one, and only one man, in that cold-breath street, is waiting for a stranger to return his loss, 10 francs. The minute the owner would come, and he would hand over the wallet and continue his way to Margaret’s home, he would be the one million and first invited person to dinner. And he came…
“He” was a young woman, with a man’s jacket, and a man’s leather boots. There was complaint in the young woman’s eyes, and hope was hanging from her lips like tears and she was shivering.
“Mademoiselle, have you lost something?”
“Yes, I have lost my wallet,” she murmured.
Komitas reached for his pockets.
“Here, take it,” he sadly smiled, “But why did you come late?” The girl reached for the wallet and took it and tried to open it with her trembling fingers. It was automatic, it had nothing to do with the situation. Komitas took her hands in his palms.
“No need to open it,” he said and added to himself, “It’s cold…”
Then he put his hands in his pockets and lightly bowed down.
“Tomorrow evening there is a concert in the Armenian Church, I am inviting you. Just come with no specific reason. Goodbye.”
And he nodded again and left.