The perfect blend of coffee always made my day at the ” Hoppin’s cafe” the monsoon just hit Bombay and beside complaining about the drizzling torture of the weather I was actually admiring the blue hue gently and swiftly touching the mighty sea. I felt lonely yet a mysterious solitary beauty was hidden in this very moment something I can call peace. I took another sip of my strong coffee, and it revived me more. The parker pen was still stumbling upon my fingers thinking of fine perfect words to be penned down on my tan brown diary, while I wrestle in my pond of vocabularies to fetch a perfect word to start, a cool breeze whispers to my ears to relive this moment over a million times. But time, this particular word haunts me bringing a chill down my spine. why are certain things in life not forever ? Why is my love story not forever ?
It feels just like yesterday that I met her, ‘Niharika’ a name that can cure my soul. This body of Armour is vague and worthless without a heart. A heart that can be filled only by her. My pen tipped on the fresh paper of the diary and I started my story ” 35 days of love”
23rd March 2013, INDIAN INSTITUTE OF HOTEL MANAGEMENT ( I.I.H.M ), kOLKATA.
Final semester was over the corner and Atul decided for some beers before we finally part our ways from these two years of strategical and Mathematical studies of business that we all refer to as M of MBA a mandatory course of living a early mediocre life, Atul zoomed up with the second hand scooter that we had purchased on our second semester days. I still didn’t understand why we even bought that scooter which sometimes felt like a bicycle with no peddles obviously I could never work out with it on the other hand Atul was the only guy in the campus to actually roll it down the streets like a beast and no sooner he zoomed in the traffic and reached the New town area, he told me he knew a cool pub for us. we entered the dark room, which seemed like more of a tunnel as we reached to our tables I found it to be quite crowded, most were just mere school going kids or maybe college who were gulping down bottle of beers, few needed spots for dating and privacy so had come down holding their girlfriend’s hand. I could see young people all around me, few of them were some corporate office gentlemen who showed up with their corporate suits and ties holding a glass of whisky staring at the screen where football match was being featured. Atul dragged me to one side of the room where the lighting was quite dimmer. we ordered for a pitcher and some nuts, I included a paneer dish for the sake of recovering the brew taste after every gulp, the last time I tasted beer still left a bitter taste on my tongue . Atul after a while received a call and was artistically moving his hands in motion. I could make out that he was actually giving direction to someone over his phone, I didn’t noticed him much as I was listening to Jason Marz’s “I’m Yours” which was being played in a slow rhythm on the background.
Atul Kept the phone and looked at me with his eyebrows frowned;
‘ What?’ I inquired him out of his devilish smile
‘ Savi is coming ‘ He exclaimed in joy
I got a hint of his act to call Savi everywhere we go, the last time we went for a movie I was giving a seat across the hall while Atul and Savi cuddle on the opposite side.
‘ That’s not fair Atul, I thought it would be just us, two brothers from another mother getting drunk like shit before we let a piece of question paper decide our faith’ I retorted in his face.
‘ Hey bro, come on its okay Savi is my girlfriend please can we put down the Bro code away for a while’ he exclaimed making a pity face.
‘I guess I will be Kabab ka hadi again’ I frowned at him
‘ No you won’t that’s why Savi is bringing her roommate along with her for you’ he patted on my shoulder across the table with laughter.
‘ what? who?’ I puzzled out at him
‘ Niharika’ he gave that devilish smile again.
I was recalling the name again in my mind when Atul added;
‘ she is bong and trust me she is hot’ he broke the ice making his eyes widen.
‘ For your kind information Atul my mom had already set a girl for me back in Jaipur’ I resorted meekly.
‘ oh ! come on now don’t say me that you are a saint ?’
‘ I didn’t say that yet’ I laughed at him
I wanted to say something meanwhile Savi popes out of nowhere and hugs Atul giving a kiss on his cheeks.
‘ Hi Jay’ Savi waved at me .
I smiled strangely, ‘ Hello Savi’ I greeted back.
I noticed a woman walking up and standing right next to me wearing a peach colored salwar, I turned around to notice her straight hair was gliding down her shoulders to compliment her, she was fair as snow and innocent than the bright moon could ever have been.
‘ Hi’ she uttered numbly
‘Guys this is Niharika my roommate and also one of my favorite friend ‘ Savi introduced her dramatically gesturing her hands .
‘ Hi, hope you remember me’ Atul exclaimed.
She nodded her head with a smile and shook her hands with Atul,
She turned around to look at me as Savi introduced me this time
‘And this is Jay actually Jaideep Saini to be precise but we call him Jay, Atul’s roommate in IIHM’
our hands met, and it felt cold. her hand was gentle and beautiful but I sensed a sudden coldness down my spine. I believed she sensed my warm touch instead.
Niharika sat beside me while Atul and Savi sat across, the pitcher had arrived and had been served to our respective mugs, I could notice a distress motion on Niharika’s face which indicated she doesn’t like the company of alcohol.
‘ Niharika come on at least today’ Savi tried changing her mind.
‘No, its okay Savi I am okay, I shall order some juice’ Niharika proposed.
‘ Yeah sure why not’ Atul added to the conversation.
The waiter had been called again, and a mock-tail of raspberry had been ordered.
The pub was chattering with in distinctive sounds and music, Atul and Savi were busy being a like some college couple cuddling with each other while Me and Niharika had a inch of silence between us, I stared at the mug of beer as it seemed more appropriate rather than watching Atul and Savi cuddling and make love with their hands being played under the table. I noticed Niharika from the corner of my eyes staring at the dim lighting placed above us with lost and silence on her lips. All i could think was miraculously making this beautiful woman a part of my life, which felt impossible as she seemed out of my league.
The waiter arrived in a while holding a delicate glass filled with something in red and on top mint leafs where added for the sake of decoration complimented with a white umbrella straw.
‘Here you go madam’ the waiter placed the glass on the table and left.
An hour had passed and Niharika just hold the glass without a level of the drink being decreased while I, Atul and Savi had gulp down the jar leaving a small quantity of beer as a sign of token of achievement. Atul and Savi tried making feeble talk with us out of their intoxicated minds while they were feeble so was mine and Niharika’s response towards them, we both could see the intense make out of the two love birds and either it was disturbing for us or we didn’t just wanted to be (kabab mai Hadi) .
After a while, I intentionally asked Niharika if she wanted to get out to which I knew the answer quite well, so we left the two love birds to their work and gave our share as we walked back sorry crawled back out of that tunnel. as soon as we reach the roadside, suddenly Niharika started laughing as loudly as she could, which made me quite puzzled the worst part was my puzzled expression towards her made her laughter instance, Was something wrong with my face ? I wondered or is she more drunk than me without taking a sip.
‘what?’ I asked her
‘nothing’ she continued laughing
very soon we started to get noticed among the crowds as we walked towards the bus stand.
‘okay Niharika listen you have to stop laughing okay please ! its a public area so please..’
‘Oh Jay it was so funny… ‘ she continued louder
I looked across the group of people staring at us assuming us drunk most probably on a afternoon time, the fear came when a police officer across the street gave a stiff glance at us .
‘Niharika, please for God’s sake calm down’ I exclaimed her politely holding stiff at her shoulders.
‘okay sorry Jay’ her smile still continued with tears and holding her stomach cramps due to her laughter.
‘okay calm down now, people are finding us weird’
‘so?’ she inquired
‘so, its not normal to be weird’ I frowned at her.
‘ Than why don’t normal people laugh’ she frowned back at me.
‘because they are normal and they don’t laugh without any reasons’ I exclaimed firmly
‘ Then why do when certain things happen for a reason they criticize it and laugh at it with a very bad intentions?’ She blurted the question like a bullet.
‘ God I don’t know Niharika’ I sighed with a heavy breath.
‘Can I drink a coffee?’ she asked politely as we walked across a small tea stall.
‘Out here?’ I inquired looking at the stall
‘Yes, why you were expecting CCD ?’ she twisted her mouth.
‘No, its fine here I love this place’ I agreed without trying to make any arguments with her.
‘ Dada, two coffee’ she went in like a boss and placed the order.
The tea stall was aside the traffic signal attached to a banyan tree, it had a small counter and few jars of cakes and biscuits, the tea-maker was placed next to the counter where he poured the tea at a distant height and juggled the hot liquid from red tea to tea, and from milk to coffee was being make from one suspension of the cup to another, some old “Bangla” songs where being played at the background over a small radio and the stall had few small benches inside the shed.
As soon as the coffee arrived Niharika ordered for two cupcakes along with it. I could notice the anticipating blow she was giving to the hot cup placed on a table to make it cool down, she looked like some small child waiting for the tea to cool down enough to dip the cake and take bite from it and that’s what she did. After a minute or two Niharika dipped her cupcake on the coffee and took a delicious bite out of it, I could feel the utter happiness on her face it felt as though childhood had been preached inside her for a while.
‘You know when I was small, Dad used to bring me here and I used to love this moment’ She looked at me with Joy chewing the last piece of her cake.
‘so you where born here?’ I asked the most obvious question.
‘I am Bengali so yeah’ she nodded taking a sip from her coffee.
‘okay’ I took a sip too.
“you, where were you born ?’ now her interrogation had started.
‘Oh! me well I was born in Jaipur studied in Delhi and now here’ I answered that one proudly.
‘Delhi’ she made a ugly expression.
‘Why did you do that?’
‘What I did?’
‘You just made that ugly face saying Delhi?’
‘No, I didn’t ‘ she protested.
‘Yes, you did’ I was determined
‘ Well I find Delhi guys too cheesy and vulgar’ she dropped the bomb.
‘What?’ I looked at her recalling her statement.
‘Yeah! don’t you feel so ?’ she questioned me.
‘And you think I am cheesy and vulgar too?’ I confronted her.
‘No, I didn’t mean that’ She twisted her mouth.
‘ well see you must admit for a second you did thought of being in a relationship with me; Didn’t you?’ She had turned the tables now.
‘No’ I questioned myself knowing the truth and firmness of my denial.
‘okay doesn’t mind’ she took turn of the conversation.
After a moment of silence I asked her;
‘So why were you laughing for back there ?’
‘oh! actually back their between Atul and Savi someone had farted’ she tried controlling the laughter.
‘What ? really’ I joined her this time in her laughter.
Few hours passed by and Niharika and me were talking and drinking our 9th glass of coffee by now, the beautiful sunset had just kissed lovely Kolkata and we decided to walk back.
‘Okay, wait let me book a cab?’ I tried booking one but none was being available near to us.
‘Let’s walk’ she smiled as the sunset kissed her glowing skin.