Ok. So get us a cup of king sized cappuccino, a mocha latte, two blueberry frappes and an Irish coffee. And add in a slice of your Devil’s cake and some crispies.
Make it awesome. Ok.
So buddies. It’s been a while since we all met together. Two years? What say?
Yeah. Nearly two years. I met Tango once though, few months back for a function.
And I met Xulu one year back for that conference.
Yeah. But it’s been quite a while since we joined together for some caffeine doses.
Ha ha. Yeah. So wassup? How’s everything going?
Most conversations start this way only. When you meet people after a while, you are curious to know their whereabouts, their earnings and all. And you quietly compare it with your life and see who is better off and who the miserable one is. But since this is a global phenomenon ones brain has been fine tuned to give answers pertaining to the surface of reality. Any deep answers and you become the centre of attraction for that round of coffee. So all the answers are rounded off. Oh I am earning ok. She is good. We have two great kids. Parents are fine. That’s the surface for you. Inside he must be undergoing turmoil but the pretentious mask of a better to do life should be worn out at all times. We do take it off for our close aides from time to time when it reaches the tipping point, for their valuable suggestions or simply their sympathy. But this is the typical human nature we all know of. We all love to put up a show. And get a nice round of applause.
So at present, all of them are doing well. Tango is busy with his small scale business of toys and stuffed dolls. Charlie is busy tending to his farm that he has in his hometown. His is a peaceful life. He married early and has two kids. I visit them sometimes as their home is near to mine. He is in peace, I think. Xulu is working in this MNC and is earning quite a buck. He has flexible timings and all but he is far away to the north. He hardly gets any time to visit his own parents. They do complain from time to time but he has no choice in that matter. Mike is also working in a reputed company. He had bought a house three years back and so the burden of its loan still hangs around his neck. At the age of twenty eight, marriage is in the cards for us but we keep on stalling it. Mike might get married soon, the first among the rest of us. I might be the last. Xulu has no idea. I can maybe hire him as a babysitter in the future.
He he. Xulu thinks that marrying for the sake of making babies is absurd.
Yeah. It is. You guys don’t see the big picture. No kids mean no weight. And that’s the way to travel. Travel lightly.
Ha ha. Charlie can hire him as his babysitter. Nice idea right.
Remember the old times when one used to complain of having not found the one we would like to spend the rest of our time with. Charlie took it to heart and look where he is now. Two kids. I have no clue what your take on family planning or nuclear family is. Ok.
Ha ha ha.
That round of laughter is followed by the arrival of our coffees. Coffee has bound us through time eternal. And it still does so cheers to coffee. And suddenly I have this strange feeling that I am being gazed by someone. I don’t know. It’s a creepy feeling. I look around. People are busy with their coffees. A lady just went into the washroom followed by this man. And the TV is blaring about the football match that is to follow in around twenty minutes. It’s getting crowded. But we have our sofas to us. So that’s what matters.
So where are we heading from here. I mean about or futures. Anyone has any clue to it.
I guess I will stay with my farming and all. It’s going good. And since organic farming is gaining in popularity, I guess u can make a break in it. But that will require some investment and for that I look towards you guys.
Nice try Charlie. We work our asses off to give you interest free loans eh. Tango is the person to ask for.
Hmmm. Let’s see. It’s into the future right. Now that’s a long time. And all will be good if my business can stay up to it. I need to expand and diversify. Staying put in this square will not do any good.
Yeah. That’s true. My home loan will be over in a few years and then maybe I can make a good switch from this company. The charms of the States once allured me but know I want to settle here.
That’s what I feel. No place better than your own home and land.
And from the corner of my eyes I glimpse a white clad lady slithering off. I turn but find no once. I think she was the lady who used the washroom. Never mind. The coffees were finishing and we were mentally focusing in the nest beverage. The cake was finished the moment it arrived. We attacked it like the savage beasts we were in college, raiding all those Tiffin’s brought by students who stayed with their parents in the city. The day scholars. And when I think about this later on, I guess it all started from here.
Mike received a call from his parents and they wanted him urgently at home. Someone had fallen ill and the condition was a bit serious. A visit to the hospital would be an apt gesture to love and kindness to the family.
We bade him good health and said our farewells. Suddenly coffees didn’t give us the charm they had offered moments ago. Tango ordered for a bottle of water. Our throats were parched. I took up my cup of cappuccino and was finishing it off when that lady appeared near the counter, chatting with the waiter. My peripheral vision couldn’t make out her features and all but the white dress was unmistakable. I put my cup and turned to look at her but she was gone. Maybe her order came in fast. She aroused in me a curiosity I hadn’t been familiar with. I scourged the café. No sign of her anywhere.
Hey. Who are looking for?
Uh, no one.
Ha. You are always a slimy pervert. Always on the lookout for ladies.
Oh come on. As if you were better off. Remember the tea stall in front of the college. We used to fight for getting a good spot there.
Ha Ha. Yeah. And maybe that’s why he charges everyone a rupee extra for his tea. Entertainment tax.
Hey guys, its seven thirty. I should leave now.
But you said it was ok for you to spend the whole night with us here. What about the match man.
Well the match can wait another day. I have to leave now. Have some matters to look into. Sorry I had to lie that I would wait and all. But I had no choice mates.
And thus Xulu left us. MNCs and their workloads are well known of. I think I just witnessed that. Thank god that I am stuck in a government job. Its sucks but still its ok. Hassle free truly. And I saw her again, this time when Xulu opened the door and left, she entered the café. That’s really odd you know cause I can swear I had spotted her here in this café only.
Now the three of us are sitting about, munching on the last of crispies left. Stories have ended. I occasionally do drop in on Charlie and Tango and so I know what’s going on in their lives. They are good. And the TVs loudness was shadowed by the ringing of my cell phone. I picked it up to see Charlie’s name blaring in the screen.
Hey Charlie. Why are you calling me?
What me. Na. I have my cell here.
Well then who is this calling me?
And I pass him my phone. He checked his pockets only to find that he had skipped his mobile phone. He took the call and I could see the pleasantness die out of him in an instant. He looked worried and that made us worried too. He kept the phone, took a huge bite of the crispie, dashed that glass of water and got up.
Hey guys. My daughter. She fell down from the swing while playing with her friends and has got a minor sprain. She is crying a lot for me. I must leave now. It’s a two hour drive from here. Sorry guys.
We didn’t want to prolong his pain and bade him farewell and told him to drive safely. I dropped him to the door of the café, searching for that lady that has been eluding my gaze for a while. She was not there. And as I turned I saw her walk past my table towards the kitchen. I rushed behind her but was denied admission into it. Sigh. She must have walked passed Tango so I thought of asking him whether he had seen her.
Hey. Did you just see that lady that passed right in front of you now?
Come on. The one in white dress. Long black hair.
Nope. I didn’t see anyone of that sort. I was paying attention to the match. It started ten minutes ago. Its nil nil.
Hey, just look up something to order. I will just use the washroom and come. Ok.
So Tango left for the washroom. I picked up the menu and looked for something interesting to sip on. Cold coffee with a shot of espresso and thick cream. Hmmm. That’s a variety. And that will be my order. Tango will finally come down to one of his blueberry fantasies. I kept down the menu only to find her sitting in front of me.
That’s all she said. She was her. Yes. I was aghast. She was her. Her. In a long white gown, with her hair grown long and all. She looked stunning. Absolutely stunning. And she was wearing a Ruby necklace. The stone was huge and might have cost her a dime. And in the low light, the ruby flickered and the red came to life. The redness with it was unleashed and all was being consumed by it. The café, the people, the chairs and posters, the TV and all. And soon I was too sucked into it. Into the different planes of glass encasing the red inside it, bouncing and being reflected like a joke. And then all was red. Red.
The sunlight was striking hard at me. Mom and aunty were looking puzzled over me. I was in the car, on the way to the airport to pick my uncle. They said I had been dreaming something for a while now, since I doze off an hour ago. And I was murmuring something about a red ruby or so. I said I have no idea of what they were saying. And why would I murmur something about a ruby and all. I have no interest in these matters. So I just stalled them. I took a big gulp of water and asked how far it was. Half an hour’s drive more. So time to remain awake and put up a smiling face for my uncle.