A lot can happen over coffee

A lot can happen over coffee

I am on my way to Cafe Coffee Day. On a Sunday evening, reading a book and sipping a cup or two of Darjeeling Tea — well, I call it a perfect life.

As expected, it’s almost a full house and it took me a few seconds to find a spot. I grab a corner table which is not-such-a-bad option, considering the fact that I have to focus on 50 Shades of Grey (yes, that’s the book I am carrying) and not on the gossips at the adjacent tables.

But…

I do want to make a confession here that I eavesdrop a little more than just sometimes. It’s a natural human tendency to sneak-peek, and being a normal person (at least I think so) with a reasonable curiosity about society, I have no regrets in doing that.

I order a Darjeeling Tea, before the waiter even bothers to exchange the usual pleasantries.

“Sorry Sir, we do not have tea today,” he replies with an innocent face, as if it was his mistake that they were out of stock.

“It’s okay. Let me see…”

I envy all the waiters in this world, for a simple reason that I find the job too fascinating. If someone wants to understand human behaviour, then I can’t think of a better job than this. Suddenly I start missing the time when I wore the same dress (and smile) in the summer of 2009, in Chandigarh.

“Sir, would you like to have a coffee?” his soft voice interrupts my thoughts. He, too, is carrying that pleasant smile.

I stare at the menu for a while and decide to order a cup of Irish Coffee. He notes it down and says in a polite manner, “Maybe you should try coffee more often. After all, a lot can happen over it,” and leaves.

“Everybody is trying to be a smartass these days,” I think to myself, “what a smartass world!”

I start reading the book, flip through the first two pages and instantly like it. You know why, don’t you? In the meantime, the coffee has also arrived at my table. I add a packet of sugar and have a sip of it.

Nice!

Although I miss the tantalising aroma of Darjeeling Tea, but I guess, I should focus on things that I have instead of those that I don’t. Story of my life, I tell you. Anyway, coming back to tea, rather coffee, more than taste, I enjoy the aroma. I close my eyes — only briefly — to appreciate the flavour, and when I open them, I see a girl entering the cafe. As the girl catches all my attention, for the first time in my life I experience the feeling of deja vu.

“Where have I seen her?” I try to remember, but I cannot. Surely, I have, somewhere. She sits on the other side of the cafe, alone — is that a sign? This reminds me about what the waiter had said earlier: a lot can happen over coffee.

I take another sip of coffee and read a few more lines before I glance at her. Even from this much distance, say around 15 feet, I can see her eye-make-up, which is so precisely (and appropriately) done. Girl, o girl, thank you for adding such value to aesthetics. Oh! she caught me staring at her and… i freeze.

It takes me a few moments to recover and pretend to be looking at the TV behind her, but, I suppose, it’s too late now. I notice, though, in that moment of childlike embarrassment, that she is chuckling. How stupid I feel in this moment, I can’t tell you.

What do I do next? Well, two things decide my next course of action. One, I have been blessed with a great deal of impatience; and two, I have been a big fan of Bollywood movies, especially those mushy ones.

The waiter initially refuses, but he gives in to the bribe I offer. The next minute… he is at her table.

As he hands over the napkin to that girl, I close my eyes. Of course, I want to see her reaction, but only if this is not going to be a problem. And I am not so sure about it now. She is about to read those lines which I have just written on that napkin.

Oh yes, I have seen you, or probably I have not
Those angelic eyes look familiar, or is it just a thought
I wanted to ask, but I am afraid to…
Here’s a simple Hello from me to you.

I could not look up until I realised that someone had joined me. Yes, she is sitting right next to me, eating casually from the plate, and I am wondering what kind of trouble I have gotten myself into. I look at her in what generations of boyhood would describe as an act of courage, still unsure about what to say. Turns out, I don’t have to. She starts the conversation.

“Good guts, I have to give that to you. But… sorry to break your heart, it’s a waste of time,” she says in such a melodic voice that I end up focusing more on her voice than the content of her words. She looks even better at such a short distance, despite those chubby cheeks… no wait, it’s because of those chubby cheeks..

“Why?” I find myself asking.

“Because,” she shows me her hands, “this finger is going to get a ring soon, next month, in fact. Now you have to be stupid to still go on with this.”

“I am not stupid. If I were, it wouldn’t be you in that case.”

“Aha?”

“And with all due respect to your relationship, a friend of mine says — and this is entirely about football, mind you — that a good striker scores a goal in the presence of a goalkeeper. Without a goalkeeper, anyone can score.”

Damn! why would I say something like that? I curse myself for being such a jerk, along with my roommate who had given me this mantra, the night before.

There was silence for the next few minutes. The background conversations and the usual chatter took over, thank goodness. The waiter has been curiously looking at our table. The excitement on his face does not make me feel any better.

“Are you serious?” she says, after I am done looking at the waiter. “Why would you say such a thing when we barely know each other?” she says. It’s a good sign, I wonder. At least, she is interested in carrying on the conversation.

“Umm,” I hesitate. “Okay tell me, if I was not being silly, would you have walked up to my table?”

“No.”

“See, in that case, I must congratulate myself.” I sound much more confident this time, although, not sure how long I would be able to carry this confidence. “You know, you didn’t have to use that being-in-a-relationship excuse. It’s a perpetual fish story girls often use.”

Now she smiles and takes my breath away. I had to smile too, in order to showcase my gentlemanship.

“I am sorry, I didn’t ask you,” I say, “would you like to have a coffee or something?”

“Yeah, sure. Thanks for asking,” she turns and waves at the waiter who seems oddly interested in our table. She asks for a cappuccino, while the the waiter and I kept looking at each other.

“What a strange thing” she says, “We are having a coffee together and we don’t know each other’s name.”

“I am sorry,” I respond, “I should have introduced myself earlier. My name is Rishi and it was a pleasure to meet you… Farah.”

She gives a suspicious look and asks, “How do you know my name?”

I stay quiet, only smiling and enjoying the hurried expressions on her face.

“Tell me, how the hell you know?” she sounds anxious. I am loving these moments of mystery.

“Well,” I say, in a serious tone, “I have been following you for a while now. I saw you a few weeks back and since then it’s just been an obsession.”

She doesn’ look comfortable at all. Her face, especially her eyes, seems to express the fear that has taken hold of her now.

I lower my gaze and say, “All I want is, your body. I don’t believe in things like true love. What I believe in,” I pick the book, “is this.”

She is definitely panicking. Her heart rate seems to have gone up in distress. What do I do?

She is about to get up and leave, when I say, “Do you always carry a keychain with your name on it?”

She stops and looks at it too.

I burst out laughing as I see her slowly coming out of the trauma. She laughs too.

“I hate you,” she says, her eyes still expressing angst. I have never seen such expressive eyes.

“But I don’t…” I say and we both laugh.

After we have got out of the cafe and bidden goodbye to each other, I realise that I should have asked her number. Maybe her full name? O dear lord! I always make such mistakes and I always curse my luck. I should get used to it now.

***

It’s Monday evening and I am following my usual time-table, i.e., going to the cafe. But the cafe is almost empty today — except that Farah is sitting on the same table, probably waiting for me, the eternal optimist in me informs. Yes, they are right, a lot can happen over coffee. And yes, this time I am going to tell her my real name.

Published by Deepak Rana

A writer, a wanderer. Keeps dreaming and aspires to make them true.

13 thoughts on “A lot can happen over coffee

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