I was bored. There wasn’t much to do but wait for my friend who was supposed to be here half hour ago. I can’t complain as I make him wait most of the time myself. This coffee shop was usually busy, but today it was not so much. As I sip my extra hot sugarless cappuccino, I leaned back in my chair looking out the long glass wall that oversaw the street. There was an elderly couple sitting on the wooden bench in front of the supermarket across the street. The woman might be in her early 70’s and the man must be more or less the same age. They both had their walking sticks leaning on the bench next to them.
The woman was wearing a simple grey dress that had seen better days. The color was complimenting her silver hair that fell from her hat. Her face looked so soft even to see, wrinkles flowing down her cheeks and her neck. She had a light pink lipstick on that made me smile. If one has to dress up at that age, you got to really love yourself and I like that spirit. The old man was well dressed too. Neatly tucked in shirt and pressed pants with a belt. He was wearing a sleeveless brown sweater and a flat cap that went well with his sweater and his brown boots. I was imagining what their early life must be like. I thought the man loved the woman and wooed her into marrying him. That must have been a task, since the woman looked much like she was a tough nut to crack. They must have had a great life together with lot of love. The way he looked at her even now with that crinkly eyes and that smile on his face is a proof that he still is in love with her. Their kids must be away and they have a simple cozy place in this town. A grey bedroom and a green couch in their living room. I am not sure why I thought of green couch. But, that is what I think they have. They must have come for a walk and taking rest here for a bit before the last leg of the walk. They must do this regularly or at least 3 days a week, just for something to do. I wonder how many couples will last that long now a days and even if they do, still feel that love for each other. I mean so much that, he could make her blush even now. I sighed and looked away as a bus passing on the road cut my view and scrutiny into the old couple’s life.
I was sitting at the far end of the café. I looked into my phone for the 100th time in the last 30 mins, still nothing. While I took another sip of my coffee, I saw the people at the café and the serving staff. Though there were not many customers, these guys were still busy. There was a guy taking the orders with the plastered smile on his face. There was a pretty girl fixing the coffee, there was another girl fixing her pony before she got to her computer to take the next order. There were a few more in the back serving, cleaning, calling names of the ones ready. I could only imagine how hard such customer facing jobs are. I think these guys are good actors, coz no matter how crazy your customer is or how irritating , you always will have to be in the character that is always smiling and polite and not show your irritation whatsoever. Even if you are having a hell of a day yourself in your personal life.They must be bachelors, none of them looked married. So, they must be staying in hostels or shared flats while also doing something else in addition to this job at the café. I went into another imaginary train. I shook my head as if to change the thought channel in my mind and looked out the window again. The elderly couple was no where to be seen. They might have walked away while I was musing about the staff. I saw a flower seller who was sitting on the bench then. He had mostly roses in all colors, each separately packed in a transparent plastic covers, neatly cut stem and shining bright leaves to go with the roses.
“Ahem, Hello” a beautiful unusual voice pulled me from my reverie. I looked up to see a girl maybe in her mid twenties , tall and lean with big brown eyes staring intently at me, her full lips forming a small curve in the ends. She had her one hand on the satchel she was wearing and the other in tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. I did not know her for sure, but was she talking to me?
“errr, yes” yes? Was I an idiot? I stammered
“I am waiting for my friend, I see that you could be too. Would you mind if I join you for a few minutes? I really hate sitting and waiting alone.” She said with a shy smile and debating whether to sit with out my permission or wait for it.
“umm, Sure. I guess that is not a problem” I gestured for her to take a seat in front of me.
“thank you very much” She smiled and sat down, taking off her satchel and keeping it on the chair next to her.
She had very long hair, that reached until her hips. Brown hair was complementing her fair complexion. A waitress observed the new addition to my table and arrived with a menu card.
“I will have a cappuccino please. “she said without looking at the menu. “please make it extra hot” she insisted.
I smiled, I had asked for the same.
“so, Am I right? ” she asked resting her chin on the heal of her palm.
I was lost looking at her , that I did not understand what she meant. Had she said something while I was busy studying her? Did I miss anything? It didn’t seem like it.
“err, about what?” I asked like a stupid. She must really think I am an idiot. All my answers have been just two words. I must correct my image before it is spoiled beyond repair in her eyes.
“oh about waiting for your friend” she said slyly
“that, yes. I am the one to keep him waiting usually. I guess he’s taking a revenge today. He must be here soon. And what is your story” I asked sipping my coffee.
“Well, I am always early. My friends told me they’d be here by 12, but I was in the neighborhood for some other reason and I got things done earlier than expected. So here I am at 11.30. I called them to see if they could hurry, but no luck.” She pouted as she shrugged.
She had a very expressive face I had ever seen. I have seen beautiful, sexy girls, prettier than her. She was not the most attractive but there was something about her that was quite soothing. She was average looking in my assessment. But I was really taken aback when she approached with such confidence to sit and talk to a total stranger. Not many girls do that. She must not think she’s pretty as ever other girl does. Coz , if they think highly of themselves, they definitely don’t strike a conversation with strangers for sure.
“And you don’t like to wait alone.” I quoted her.
“yes, I hate to sit alone and get lost in phone. I would rather talk to someone real. I saw from across the table that you were sitting alone. You looked like you were waiting too, I thought I try my luck. Hope I am not irritating you.” She made an apologetic face.
Right that time, the waitress arrived with her coffee and placed it in front of her with a practiced smile.
“would you like anything else to go with your coffee?” the waitress asked.
“No thank you”. the girl answered with a smile.
She took a sip of her coffee before she lowered the cup and looked at me again.
“Coffee is the best thing in the world. I do not understand when they mix it with so many other things that alter the taste if the real coffee, like chocolate, hazelnut , oreo and what not and call it coffee. That is not coffee, that is a disgrace to coffee. What do you say?”
She asked causally. Taking another sip. I observed that she too had not added any sugar like me. That made me smile again. I had a thing or two common with this stranger girl after all.
“I can’t agree more on that. Plus the sugar is a killer” I said raising my coffee cup to her.
“ugh,, absolutely. I think it is underrated what a simple coffee can do to a person” she went on. I did not try to stop her. At least she was keeping me busy. It was not irritating either. If I had to listen to some random talk like this any other time, when I had better things to do, I might have just walked away. Not turning back to her.
“it can uplift your mood when you are sad, it gives you company when you are waiting, it can be a reason for new relationships to start, it can be like a hug when you need something warm. ” She smiled as she went on.
Her smile must be contagious, my lips smiled too.
“Don’t forget the feeling when you have coffee when it rains and is cold outside” I reminded her.
“oh yeah, that must be the most comforting feeling one can have. No one can replace coffee. Coffee should be awarded Ms. Congeniality ” she concluded
“I vote for it” I said agreeing to her. I felt silly. I have not said anything to make an impression so far. Then I thought, she never gave me a chance to begin with.
“There could be so many simple things like this coffee in our lives that we miss giving credit to, that we take for granted. Isn’t it? ” she asked a bit smug now.
I wondered where this conversation was going. But I gave her point a thought. So many things in life we take for granted, like the toothbrush we use, clothes that fit, shoes that are comforting, food we eat. But we never feel gratitude for any of it.
“yeah, I guess. I think we are too busy moving on to other complex things that our brains might be so trained by itself to ignore all these little things that happen on a daily basis. ” I mused with her.
“I think we should train our brains to be a little more considerate, to be a little more grateful.” she said
“some brains may be so very full to have this redundant information in them. ” I was not sure why I was playing along at this point.
“we should have some telepathy that each brain sends a signal to another nearest one, to be grateful to at least 10 things in a day. What do you say?” she sat up right as if she had just cracked a Bermuda triangle mystery.
I like that she had so much sense of gratitude in her. Some appreciation for simple things in life. I kinda like this conversation to my utter surprise.
“I think you should be made the president of brains to manage that task and to ensure all the brains obey you” I smiled crookedly. I have to admit that I am smiling a lot despite the conversation I am having with this stranger girl.
“I think I will handle it very well. I was a student president in my high school. I was even awarded the best student president the school had in the last 5 years.” she beamed proudly.
Hmm, a responsible girl, I thought.
“wow, that is impressive. Congratulations. Then we have a very suitable candidate for the job” I replied.
“no doubt about it” she said pinching the collar of her shirt.
I had not noticed what she was wearing until now. She had light blue torn jeans on paired with white v neck blouse that was just deep enough, like a tease. She had brown heels on. I was wearing brown shoes too. I felt like a hopeless schoolkid trying to find similarities between us. She took another sip of her coffee, closing her eyes, savoring the taste. As my eyes started wandering a little bit on to her slender arms and long fingers that were surprisingly not painted, the waitress made another entry to clean up my empty cup while asking if I needed anything else. I politely refused anything else, I was not in a mood to eat anything now. I just realized that I also had not looked into my mobile since this woman came to my table.
“Oh my friends are here” she cheered as she saw a bunch of girls crossing the road through the window.
“oh” was all I could manage. I did not know if I wanted her to go or continue the meaningless rant. In any case, I did not have much of a choice. So my response was minimal. She had started collecting her things already.
She got up “alright then, it was very nice talking to you. Thank you for entertaining me. Until I meet you next time, you can keep this”. She said with a warm smile as she gave me an envelope.
I had very less time to digest and react. What? What does that mean? What is in this ? Why is she giving me this? Does she give this to all strangers she talks to?
By the time I looked at the table and back at her she had walked out the door without a glance.
I got up from my chair as if to call her, half raising my right hand.
“oh shit” slipped from my mouth as I realized I had not even bothered to ask her name. oh but she did not either.
I tore the envelope open to see a small card that read
“The moon lights up the world even in darkness, it is not a million stars, You are that moon, Keep shining bright for the world!!”
I also found a keychain that had a moon in it. The most beautiful one I had ever seen. It even depicted the scars exactly like you see in a full moon.
Now I was blown away. She knew my name. Who was she? How will I ever find her? Why has she given me this? Aarghh there were a zillion questions more in my head. I had never experienced anything like this before. It was a suspense, surprise and thrilling all at once. I was angry at myself for being such a hopeless bait, but also pleased to have met her and thrilled to have received the gift with such a beautiful verse written for me.
I held the key chain in my hand and turned it over, Sure enough it had my name engraved on it. I was never more surprised. Instead of being so many things, I felt a sense of excitement.
I was laughing a myself for no reason.
My friend came huffing and puffing to the table where I was sitting.
“okay, I know you want to kill me ….coz I made you wait. But wait a sec before that, coz I have a .. ” He started to apologize holding the table to support his body. He looked like he came running from the parking.
“What are you talking about?. I just came a min ago” I said stopping him before he could go on as I silently and ever so gently put the envelope into my pocket.
I got up and put my arm on his shoulder to turn him around. I could not sit here anymore now, not with him , not after talking to her in the same place, not without thinking about all those questions.
“I know a better place, lets get out of here” I said as I walked him to the door.