The Old Cafe

We first met at this old cafe near Chandni Chowk, I still remember it was raining as the water droplets were going to pierce the land into pieces .I was wandering in old Delhi trying to find an old, famed bookstore, and some non-clichéd books. In Delhi, the time after November is the best. The winds are not so warm and there is a faded smell of heavy ghee filled sweets wherever you look, festivals are going on and so is the season of shopping. There were many things happening in city starting from my own food festivals and sales on many fashion labels which made a simple girl a Delhi girl. Then there were events as Comic-Con and the Grudge festival.


I love winters but that was a cloudy evening, and to top it all of it started to rain as well, but thank god it was not so cold. In the immediate search of someplace to save myself from the rain I found this old café with a shack, which seemed quite authentic to me but unfortunately I got drenched. So as soon I could, I ran into the café. I was half wet already and so were my new books. To my surprise this place was crowded, a lot more than I imagined. I guess all the people ran here to save themselves from heavy, yet not so romantic rain. There was not a single chair to sit and on top and I had so much stuff in my hand, my phone was ringing continuously, my projects were pending, and my editors were fed up with me, so as I was struggling to find myself a table. I looked over to the end and there he was, sipping his coffee with cigarette smoke coming out of his mouth, he was so quiet that a single sight of his made that loud cafe pin into a single sound. He had these greyish greenish eyes, the kind which are rare, the kind in whom when you look your heart skips a beat till all the nerves in our body are dancing with excitement. He was wearing a rugged shirt and ripped pant, tall I guess 6 feet, his guitar was resting on the other chair and As I noticed clearly He was reading something, I went a little closer and to my surprise he was reading  ‘The notebook’ .

It was unexpected because a guy like him, so rough and tough in his look should be listening to gangsta rap. To my luck, the table  close to him got free and I grabbed it as soon as I could, I sat there looking at him, no doubt I was attracted, who would not be for he fitted my description of an ideal guy. I was waiting for my ice cold latte, I hate hot coffees, nor do I have the patience to wait for them to cool down and they have burnt my tongue many times.


So as I was looking at him, he sighed and closed his book and started staring outside like he was going to turn those rain drops into the pain of a heartbroken poet, his eyes were so pure like a water drop on a lotus. I thought that he too might be waiting for rain to go away, or maybe a girl to arrive. I just sipped my coffee looking at him, he had a face so absolute that could not be forgotten once seen, or once loved. Rain stopped but neither did he step out nor did I, no girl arrived, I drank seven cup of coffees. Waiters were staring at me and waiting for me to leave, it was dark outside and I was here, falling in love with a unknown guy in a café I have never been to before, my phone rang and it was ma screaming at me to come back home because as beautiful this city is, it is sadly, unsafe as well. I waited for him to approach but he was still sitting there, looking at the magic of the sky and I, just staring at him .It was getting really late. As I was picking up my stuff to leave he called and out and said, “I come here every day, same time same table.” I was really happy because he did notice me. I looked at him and smiled and so did he, his smile had a roughness in it like the first octave of a piano, as he was leaving he left his rugged denim jacket at my table with a note ‘It’s cold, be careful’ His jacket had his smell, the smell of sand after rain, it was strong like the strong witty smell of cologne to blow your mind. It was amazing, I snugged his jacket while I slept, his smell lingered on me for days, and yes he did come there every day and smoked, someday with a book in his hand, someday a girl.


I waited, we did talk a few times and we went to places unknown to all, hidden behind trees and walls of the Red Fort, sat for hours in unknown parks and made love till our heart could be torn apart. We talked while lying on grass watching the stars twinkle into the galaxy of the infinite, he read me poems he wrote, but he never talked about his childhood. I told him about mine and he did listen to every word, he smelled my body like it is made of roses and daisies and caressed it like air brushes on water, gentle, yet still moving. He held my hand and that was the best time of my day, it made me feel so safe, I knew he was different and what we had was more than just infatuation. We laughed, we talked and argued but little did we know how those nights turn into mornings of love.


It has been three years till that day, that day when I first saw him at this old cafe and his eyes, they hold the same color, the same purity, our son also has his eyes, and my brain. One day while laying next time to him I asked, “Why did you sigh after completing the notebook?” He kissed me and said because writers are the best liars, and we should not believe them, I laughed at the irony of his statement, he used to write about a lot of things like his mother who abandoned him when he was five and his sister who committed suicide after she fought depression, but he never talked about this, he just wrote.


He never wrote about us, he said that if he wrote about me he would lose me, and I was way too precious, yet I never understood that. He looked at me in a way no one has ever looked, with a possession and a fear to lose ,but a security as well, that we are not just me and I, we are one, united and weaved into a love story for generations to read .He always used to say that love is like the smoke of his cigarette, the ones we love also disappear like the smoke in the midst of sky, consuming us, making us a mere addiction and then when we open our eyes one morning they are gone, we are finished and so is the cigarette .I never this understood till today.


Last night we were talking it turned into a fight, I told him he need to stop smoking and start talking about his feeling rather than just pen it down and close it shut, I told him that I was there for him. He said that he could never know when I would be gone. I cried and he just left, I should have known depression does not speak, he did not come home all night, I searched for him everywhere, every street, all his favorite writing spots, I came back home in a hope to find him here playing his guitar, but I didn’t, so I just hugged his jacket and waited for him to return, and it still smells the same. There was a box inside the pocket of his jacket, I opened it and there it was, a rose gold solitaire ring. I described this to him months ago, he was going to propose. I was so happy, finally, I had planned this day for so long, lived it so many times in my head. I called him but his phone was off and I was worried but I had no idea when I fell asleep holding that ring, I woke up to 50 missed calls, the police officers informed me his body was found in a river, he was dead and today as he lay in his grave His eyes and his skin both pale, all I want to do is kiss him for the last time, stop him from consuming himself into ink and words but I think that what writers do, tangle us into words and  just to leave us to wonder . I want him to come back, and complete our story.

And yet, today that cafe is empty and so is my soul.


By Riya Sharma (Editor, Fiction)

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