I sat at my usual table with a newspaper in front of my face, waiting for the second protagonist of my story to arrive.
The two-seater table in the corner just where the window ended was their usual table. Probably because he could see everybody from there but nobody could see him-especially when he smoked and doped. He was there alone yesterday, much to my surprise. She never missed a chance to be with him. But, well, she was there today, waiting for him.
I have been coming to this cafe for my lunch for the last two months and so has this couple. From what I have been able to decipher from their conversations, they have been going out for half a year now. How, I really don't understand, because the boy is absolutely obnoxious while the girl is just too nice. He seems just short of being abusive sometimes but still, the two of them seem to like each other's company.
I noticed some changes if my first protagonist today. Anyone knowing her would probably say she looked the same. True, she looked like one of those 'cool' teenagers of today-baggy pants, t-shirt, jacket, sneakers, headphones in the ears, the absence of spectacles and a slightly careless, flyaway look about her. But they say old eyes are experienced and I observed |hat today, she didn't have that soft, vulnerable look she usually wore. She didn't look out of the window once either. She looked confident and set as she scribbled away at her notebook-and slightly indifferent, which surprised me greatly.
The café door opened and in walked, correction: stumped, my second protagonist. Wearing a baggy t-shirt, baggy jacket, baggy pants (which ran over his sneakers and to the floor, taking up more dirt than the shoes), a cap and cigarette smoke as cologne, the boy looked towards their table, almost smiled and walked towards it. She didn't hear or see him and as he slid into the seat opposite her, he snatched the pen out of her grasp. Swiftly, she snatched it back, along with her notebook and CD-walkman and stuffed everything into her bag. He gave her a disdainful smile. She looked back steadily. His look softened and he looked at her a long time before placing an order for a pizza, fries and cold drinks, for once, not jeering at the waiter. He sensed the change in her as well.
writin'?" he asked her.
He tried to look bored and blew cigarette smoke on her face. She just blinked in response. Not her usual self at all. He tried very hard not to look surprised.
Several minutes later, two boys walked into the cafe talking excitedly about an ongoing India-Pakistan cricket match. "Yeah and you know when Tendulkar hit that..."
"Sachin Tendulkar! That bloody country." He suddenly growled. "After we'd fought nine whole months and lost half our people in that war did they decide to pop up and act like heroes. And the suckers also celebrate their Independence Day on t he 16th of December. Such..."
"What're you talking about? You're mixing up our war with a game?" she retorted, with raised eyebrows. "And yeah, who told you that they celebrate their independence on 16th December. Their Independence Day is on the 15th of August. What..."
"Oh, I'm sorry!" he zeplied in a mock, apologetic tone. "I forgot who I was talking |o! You love those monafiks, don't you? But those aren't the only things they did-they are still trying to conquer our country. Corrupting our people, dumping their low-quality goods on us."
"God, you are so confused!" she exclaimed. "They helped us win our war and you're saying they want to conquer us? Why would they want to do that? Look at us-we're at least fifty years behind them, let along any developed country. And why should I love them? Anyway," he was interrupting, so she snapped, "Shut up! Why the hell are we talking about something about which you're practically ignorant? I've not time for this, so-"
"Yeah, yeah, you know when you're a loser..." An impatient look from her made him change the topic. They talked about his last concert and some new movie for a while. He tried being his usual funny self but he just couldn't force a laugh out of her today.
Finally he burst out, "What's wrong with you @&&*$%&? Look, if you're pissed at me for insulting you at the party the other day and expect me to say sorry, get this into your head-I AM NOT SORRY! The way you talk and dress up, I swear," he suddenly stopped, probably realizing that he had said too much. But he still glared at her, as if daring her to reply.
She shrugged and stood up, reaching for her bag. She looked bored. "Well, I guess you're done ," she was saying, but he interrupted her.
you gonna do, huh?"
underestimate me. Saaaad mistake!" She replied, in a mocking tone,
looking back at him steadily.
She didn't look back and harlly seemed to have cared about the fact that he was bleeding.
He left immediately
after that, without looking at anyone.
It was a fresh new story for my column in the weekend magazine. This was the most interesting couple I had seen in my 69 years and I had this soft spot for them. The girl interested me the most, as she seemed to have transformed overnight and I still found it difficult to believe that she had hit her boyfriend. So, even though my story seemed to have ended, I found myself being drawn to the cafe for the next few weeks for some grand finale. Although, I was sure that both of them, especially the boy, had moved on.
But I was in for a surprise. They boy actually started coming again everyday for two-three hours during their usual time and sat smoking and looking out of the window. He called and sent sms.
But there did'nt seem to be any response. He didn't look anywhere but out of the window, possibly because he was aware of the many stares cast at him. He hadn't changed and his expression was inscrutable. But anyone could tell that he was missing her. Only, she never came again.
Saved by the nick of time
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