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Credit: I don’t know how to thank Sensuous website who gave me this beautiful idea for a story, and inspired me to write once again. I hope you girls like this shorty story.
She was anxiously looking at the door again and again. Her anxiousness was evident from the way she would pick up her dupatta which would slip down from her shoulders. And then, she would take a sip from the cup of coffee which she would hold using both her hands. She was beautiful, and yet lonely. This city and this coffee shop was not unfamiliar to her, and yet, this city seemed to have changed a lot to her.
Amidst the crowd in that cafe, she would look at the door as if expecting someone to appear. Though she appeared lonely, yet another coffee cup sitting on the table told that she was waiting for someone who should have been there by now. May be that person won’t come now. She looked at her delicate watch on her dainty wrist to check the time once again. May be she should not wait anymore. May be she should leave.
“Hi!”, said the woman as she put her big purse on the table. She just came. Finally, she was here. She was still the same like before. She still had big smile on her face, her eyes were wide and lined with kohl as always. She was wearing a synthetic saree accompanied with an old fashioned katori-style blouse whose design defied all the new fashion diktats. She was still the same. She had a dozen of glass bangles on each of her hands. It was as if she belonged to a different era. She had been always like that. But her big simple smile would tell that she was a simple woman with a clear heart.
“Hi!”, Ritu smiled as soon as she saw Shilpa. Her wait and loneliness was finally over. Unlike Shilpa who was loud, Ritu’s voice was sweet and delicate. Ritu was happy.
“Sorry, it took me a little long to get ready. You know how it is!”, Shilpa said as she tried to manage her saree pallu while trying to sit elegantly on the chair in front of Ritu. She sat, folded her legs, and adjusted her pleats below her waist like any elegant woman would do. Seeing Shilpa sit and fiddle with her saree was a funny scene in itself. And as soon as she sat, her pallu slipped down her shoulders which she again pulled up and tried to keep it in its place. While she was adjusting her pallu, her eyes fell on Ritu who was intently looking at Shilpa with a big smile on her face. Looking at Ritu, Shilpa forgot about her pallu and she kept looking at Ritu. Ritu never understood why Shilpa would wear her saree with open pallu spread over her arm when she always struggled to manage it. Who knows what pleasure she derived from that struggle. But girls have their own idiosyncrasies. For Ritu, it was her love for her dupatta.
“You haven’t changed a bit!”, Ritu said laughingly. Shilpa continued to look at Ritu for a while, and then she flicked her hair on one side, and said, “Hmm.. I have become a little fat. That’s all. Otherwise I am still the same” She chuckled.
“Drink this coffee. It is the kind you like. May be it has gone cold by now.”, Ritu said as she pushed the second cup on the table towards Shilpa. Shilpa was still smiling and looking uninterruptedly at Ritu as if her eyes were saying, “You still remember my choice?” Shilpa’s intent look made Ritu a little aware of herself, and she tried to cover her top body with her dupatta though there was no need for that.
“How many days are you here for?”, Shilpa asked as she took a sip out of the coffee cup.
“Two days. I am here for some office work. I plan to meet old friends in the evening. That’s it.”, Ritu said. She was feeling more relaxed now. She didn’t realize that she would feel comfortable with Shilpa so quick. She found no reason to feel shy or uncomfortable in front of her.
They both sat their silently for some time while sipping their coffee. “Did you marry?”, Shilpa broke the silence with a question. She was a little nervous asking that question, and was fiddling with her bangles as if she was not ready to hear the answer.
“No”, Ritu answered after a brief pause. She was looking down. “And you? Any man?”, Ritu adjusted her dupatta on her shoulder as if trying to appear stronger in front of Shilpa.
Ritu’s question made Shilpa to look away from her. Shilpa smiled in a disbelief at that question and she said, “No.” She paused briefly and continued in a struggling voice, “I had told you about that even then.”
There was once again silence on that table. The hustle bustle in that cafe could not pierce the silence that was disturbing them both.
Shilpa finally mustered courage to say something to Ritu. “Let’s go out from here.”
“Where?”, Ritu bent forward with excitement in her eyes, as if she was waiting for this moment to go out with Shilpa.
“That same place … where we would go to eat gol-gappe (paani puri)”, Shilpa said. Ritu was touching her own arms. Her eyes were happy but her look had something naughty about it. “No … we had never been to that place together.”, Ritu said as she boldly corrected Shilpa. Probably, Shilpa’s memories were wrong. That’s the problem with memories. They get faded and jumbled with time.
They both got up and walked out of the cafe. They were walking next to each other on the street. It was clear that there was a common desire in both these girls. They wanted to hold each other’s hand. But none of the two made the first move to do so. Both girls continued to walk slowly and silently. Soon, they were at the gol-gappe stall. They both started eating something they both loved. It was pretty evident that they loved this stall. They both were smiling but didn’t say a word. And the silence was broken only when Ritu began to cough. Shilpa began to pat over Ritu’s back to make her feel better. She even moved Ritu’s long hair on one side to help with her coughing. It was the first time she was touching Ritu after a long long time. As soon as the coughing stopped, Ritu looked at Shilpa. She could feel something.
“You should not eat anymore.”, Shilpa said. “No, I am going to eat 4 more. Where else I would get to eat this delicious gol-gappe“, Ritu said adamantly as if it was her right to refuse Shilpa.
“Oh bhaiya… at least put a little more of that sweet chutney.” Shilpa said angrily to the person who was making gol-gappe for them. And Ritu continued to look at Shilpa. It seemed as if there was some kind of regret in her eyes.
After they were finished eating, they both started strolling once again. The weather was getting colder as the evening progressed. Ritu tried to cover herself with her dupatta to protect herself from the cold. But her thin dupatta was not enough to protect her. Shilpa looked at struggling Ritu. She opened her purse and took out a shawl, and used it cover Ritu with it. “You will feel better now. I knew that you wouldn’t be prepared for the cold weather. You have always been like that.”
Shilpa was really sweet with her gesture. She was always sweet like that, Ritu was thinking to herself. Feeling the warmth of that shawl, she was reminded of her old memories. But sometimes old memories with a lot of sweetness in it can still bring a little pain with it. Somehow Ritu controlled her thoughts. She turned towards Shilpa and said, “I think I should leave now. My friends must be waiting for me. I am supposed to be there in 5 minutes.”
So soon? They had barely met, and it is already time to separate. They had barely talked to each other. Shilpa got a little emotional but she tried her best to hide her emotions with a big fake smile on her face, and said, “I felt really nice seeing you.”
They both looked at each other. Ritu grabbed both of Shilpa’s hands in her hands. She loooked down and said, “I always loved you.”
“I know.”, said emotional Shilpa in a shaky voice. They both turned away from each other and walked in different directions. There were tears and memories in the eyes of both. Ritu continued to walk with moist eyes while feeling the warmth of love in that shawl. Only she knows how much courage she had to muster to meet Shilpa like this. If she hadn’t asked, Shilpa would never have come like this to meet her.
After a short drive in her car, Shilpa was back to her home. She sat on her sofa. She gave a brief sigh before she began going through the pictures on her phone to find a particular picture from 5 years back. In that picture, there was Ritu standing next to some guy. They both were eating gol-gappe in the same stall. They both looked really happy. After all, they both were in love.
“I am sorry, Sudeep. I was wrong. Can we be together once again?”, the typed message on Ritu’s phone said. But would she dare to send that message?
Image Credits: WebFab.in Cafe Latte Salwars
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