Beyond choppy waters, there is calm
“You seem awfully quiet today, something on your mind?” Saeki asked between her small sips of steaming soup. Keats, suddenly brought back to the real world, looked at her with an apologetic smile.
“Am I? I don't feel any different though,” he said.
He had been staring at the little green plant beside the windowpane.
“How is the soup today? It looks different.”
“No, it's fine”, she said with her usual benign smile.
They always had lunch together, sat by the window at the café on the second floor. He had his spaghetti and an extra plate of fries while she had her soup. They had initially experimented with different orders, but with time there were none left to try. Keats did not mind, the food was not that bad, even if it had lost some appeal.
“One of these days, we should really order something else. I have had this for so long they should probably name the spaghetti after me!”
Saeki looked at him with a quizzical expression, “But they won't - because no one would want to have spaghetti named after you.”
“But I was only joking, no need to get serious”, he retorted.
Keats was fumbling with the spoons. Perhaps the joke was not that funny. After all he never had much forte in humor when it came to Saeki. All the while he kept twisting the spaghetti with the spoon into one large ball, letting it loose and starting all over again. He was not very hungry today. Actually, he never had much appetite for lunch. Not so long ago, lunch was an excuse he had created to spend time with Saeki.
He looked across the table. She was one beautiful woman. Not like a magazine cover girl, but more like a beautiful girl-next-door kind. It was her smile that really made her stand out. Somehow it had the habit of lodging itself at the back of his mind and materializing randomly between his thoughts. Saeki suddenly noticed him looking at her, and nodded with the same smile that he loved so much.
“You look really beautiful today.” Keats blurted out, suddenly realising that he had been caught.
Saeki's smile broadened with her little cheek dimples turning red. “Yeah right! I couldn't sleep all night , I've got dark circles.”
He had hardly noticed them. Dark circle or not, she was still beautiful. But he decides against telling her, trying to avoid an unnecessary argument.
“C'mon, you don't have to give me fake compliments!” she said rolling her eyes.
“I do it because I love you.” He replied inadvertently.
“I knew you were going to say that.” She said.
And he knew she was going to say that. It was about time he learnt not to make such blunt gestures. Hunching forward, he went back to concentrating on the meal. He was pondering on all the other things he could have said that would have been more believable. A charming young couple walked into the café and Saeki looked up from her table to catch a glimpse. Looking at them, one could guess that they were very much in love. The man lightly touched the girl's cheek and she responded with a faint smile. They were young and looked great together. The young man leaned over to her ear and whispered something that made the girl giggle. With a quick glance at Keats, Saeki went back to concentrating on her food.
“I really think we should go for a holiday this year, it really has been so long” said Saeki. Keats nodded in approval. “Sure, I will be getting a few days off at the end of the month, perhaps we can make it then. You should probably let Oshin and Sakura know ahead of time though.”
Saeki was about to reply but trailed off.
She started again, “Don't you think they would be busy this time of the year? After all it's not like you can just leave everything behind and go off on a holiday.” She said.
“But you always insist on bringing your friends along, and I know how bored you get,” said Keats.
“Well I just feel that it's more fun with more people. But it's not that I absolutely have to.”
Keats smiled back at her and gestured the waiter for the check.
“You know you can just admit that you don't want them around.” Saeki suddenly blurted out.
“In fact you don't even have to pretend to be interested in going.” And there she was. Keats wondered why he was so deft at annoying her.
“If that is what you believe………”and Keats trailed off.
The waiter was here with the check and it was time to leave. As they waved their goodbyes they knew that the conversation had ended abruptly. Yet there was some solace there, because in all honesty there was so much to say, but none could figure out on what it was. Tomorrow would be like any other.
(The writer is a student of Media & Communication, IUB)