I’ve been watching her. No, I am not a stalker. I am just a lonely man who has nowhere to go or nobody to talk to. I used wander around this area until the sun had set and there was nothing left to do but to go back to the room I call home. If it hadn’t rained that evening, I would have never walked into the café, drenched, longing for something warm to calm my nerves. It rarely drizzles in my hometown, and the splashing violence of the Mumbai rain was too much to take.
If it hadn’t rained, I would have never wrapped my palms around that steaming cup of coffee. If it hadn’t rained that evening, I wouldn’t have seen her, soaked to the bone, and yet unfazed by the lashing rain.
Thank God it rained.
It didn’t rain the next day. And instead of strolling about, I made my way back into the café. I ordered myself an Americano and I waited. She came back, this time with two other girls.
It didn’t rain the next day either. I found my way to the café. I ordered myself an Americano. I waited. She came in with a bunch of papers and buried herself deep into what seemed like work.
It didn’t rain the day after. I still came into the café. I ordered myself an Americano. I waited. She came in and lit a cigarette as she smiled at something on her cellphone phone.
It didn’t rain. I still came into the café. I didn’t have to order an Americano. The barista got me my cup with a smile. I sheepishly smiled back. And I waited. She came in with two guys. They gathered their heads around a laptop.
The monsoon had gone. I didn’t need an excuse anymore. I continued to come into the café. She occasionally looked my way and smiled. The barista brought me my coffee and sometimes stayed for a little chit-chat about the traffic and the weather.
I often sat there, sipping my coffee, imagining what it would be like to go over to her table. Would she storm off angrily? Would she move her papers aside and make place for my lonely coffee cup?
I never got past the imagining. I wondered if she would notice my absence if I didn’t show up one day.
Today, I look at the ripples in my coffee cup instead of watching the entrance for that moment, when she walks in. There are no empty tables today. The café is busy. And then I feel a shadow over my coffee cup. It forces me to look up.
‘Do you mind if I sit with you?’ she asks in a soft voice.
‘Sure,’ I say pulling my backpack off the empty chair next to me. She sits down and looks at me with gratitude.
‘I could use a friend this evening. And in this crowd, yours is the only familiar face,’ her hand slightly touches my arm. I try not to smile too much. But today, there is a storm in my coffee cup.
Photograph by: Kaurwakee: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaurwakee/