Life in a broken Cup of Coffee
Life in a broken Cup of Coffee
She opened her bleary eyes when the cat, all seven pounds of squirming flesh, climbed onto her belly. Squinting into the sunlight streaming in from the open window, she discovered that she was now the weary possessor of a pounding headache, and at some point, had managed to lose both a tooth and a spouse.
She turned to her left, making the cat jump off her and the bed, to have a look at the clock placed upon the table by the bedside. Through her partially opened eyes she saw it is ten to eight, which is a little late than her usual time. And she wanted to sleep for a little longer today.
It's been four years since her husband left her. And ever since, she had been doing everything to make sure that her son gets to live a happy and successful life. Sameer was a sophomore engineering student at a college in Bengaluru, far off from his home town, when his father left him. And Sujata made sure that her son finishes his education without any difficulty and gets a good job.
Sameer would visit his mother only rarely, mostly on special occasions. It was hard for Sujata to live alone all by herself. But she was determined to fulfill every wish of her son. The motivation that she would finally go and live with her son forever once he gets a good job kept her going day in and day out.
Sujata had been a house wife for her entire married life. But after her husband's death, she had to take responsibility on her own. The meager amount of pension she was getting from her husband's office was not enough to have a good life. Therefore, with the assistance of some of her friends, she started a small café from her own house. A couple of tables, pre-existing sofas, soothing music, no waiters only self-service, and lots of books and magazines arranged in shelves at opposite corners. With only a little investment she had created a place for people to relax, enjoy the delicious coffee, read books as they please, and enjoy the music. It was a lovely place. People would spend their entire afternoons, sometimes reading books, sometimes just enjoying the ambience, and at times they gather there for having small parties. 'Suji's Café' had become popular in not much time. Soon she got a helper for her, and they are now also serving sandwiches too along with coffee.
In her lone and monotonous life her café had been the only thing to look forward to. And she has also made a couple good friends to spend some good time with. But in her heart she had this firm belief that all this is just a temporary phase of her life, and that she would one day close 'Suji's Café' for good, and go and live with her son forever as and when he stands on his own two feet.
It had been two years now since Sameer finished his studies and got a good job. Sujata was so happy when she got the news that she served free coffees to her customers that day, letting them know the reason for her happiness.
But, it was two years ago. She was still running her café, living her life all by herself which would be occasionally brightened by her son's arrival for a couple of days. Sameer told her mother to wait for a couple of months, reasoning that Bangalore is a big city and he said that he had to first settle down with his new job, and then he would take her with him. And, Sujata was so overjoyed with the prospect of going that a little waiting didn't matter.
It was Saturday morning. Sujata had no intention of waking up that day.
Sameer was about to come this weekend to spend a couple of days with his mother. And ever since she got the news, she had been so happy and all too excited looking forward for this day, until yesterday.
She had been looking forward to meet her son. And this time she had decided to tell him that she would now like to come and live with him. In her mind she was already reliving all the dreams she had been weaving all those years in seclusion. And she believed that it was only a matter of time when all her dreams would turn into a vivid reality.
Last night she got a call from Sameer. He said that he wouldn't be able to come this weekend as he was going on a trip with his friends. Although she was sad, but like every mother a little concerned too and inquired about his trip and his friends going with him. But, Sameer was in a hurry and she couldn't get any answers from him. It had become quite a normal affair for past few months. Sameer would cancel his trip home at the last moment.
Sameer is her closest family who only cares just as little about her.
She had already got over her husband, who was now only a thing of her past.
And Sameer, whom she wished to love and remember forever, was becoming a thing of some distant future, which was going farther apart from her with every passing day.
But one cannot give up on life and upon happiness that easily. And Sujata, for one, was way stronger.
She wanted to sleep for some more time. But that insolent fire-spitting blazing sun wouldn't let her. Reluctantly then she leapt out of bed, took the cat in her lap and went straight to the kitchen, to make herself a cup of tea, and a cup of milk for the cat. She put the milk in Tiny's mug and cuddled for a while before leaving her to have her drink in peace (Tiny is the name of her cat.).Pouring the tea in a cup she came out to the veranda.
She took a long deep breathe, of whatever remained of that fresh air in the scintillating heat of that summer morning, a sip of that magical potion from her cuppa, and finally came back to life fully revived.
Sujata is a skinny middle aged woman whose charisma defies her real age, and for a woman of 43, she looked younger and beautiful, only of course if one doesn't count her one missing tooth. And she is now quite famous in her neighborhood because of her café, and often someone would greet her passing by.
'It's a fine day,' she thought to herself, forgetting the events of last night.
Then out of the corner of her eye she saw Mariam appear in view, a short and plump woman who always ties her hair in a bun which looks like an antenna over her head and who always wears white color sport shoes with two pair of socks. She was carrying her regular jute sling bag with daily supplies of bread, vegetables and milk packets for the café.
Mariam was the woman Sujata got as another helper for her café, and she was also her best companion to share her things and laughs and sorrows with.
Sujata turned in time to look at her, and with a smile on her face she said, "Oh hell Mariam! I was just thinking to myself that 'It's a fine day'. And then you appeared. Honestly woman! Can't you let me have even a tiny moment of peace?" And then she burst into laughter.
Joining her in laughter, Mariam replied, "Not gonna happen Suji. Not unless you fire me out… Or one of us kills the other."
Suji and Mariam were usually like that most of the times and together they share a good laugh.
"Poor woman! You are horrible." Sujata retorted back and moved closer to hug her.
It was 10:30 in the morning now. Suji's café was already bursting with regular customers who were all too busy enjoying their delicious coffee with the delightful music, while some of them were hidden behind their magazines and books and newspapers. Everything was just as usual as any other normal day. But the afternoon today was booked for a small party by Mrs. Gupta and her gang.
"Mariam, it seems we are going to have a spicy afternoon today," Sujata said to her, "the ladies are having a kitty party here."
Mariam groaned under her breathe, "Oh! Those women are going to spoil my weekend."
Mariam hated their gossips so much, which were usually always about the things Mariam hates. Sujata would always tell her that, party is just an excuse these ladies find to take a little break from their otherwise lackluster and monotonous lives. She always felt happy for them.
The cat, in her cheerful mood, was now lurking in the café as the ladies arrived for their party. And in no time café was bursting with sounds of their chitter-chatter and cries and laughter from inside out. Mariam felt sick and kept cursing the ladies under her breathe for the entire day.
In all the uproar Sujata heard her phone ringing somewhere and went out to her room to take the call in time. When she returned, Mariam found her lost in her thoughts and there was a mysterious smile on her face.
"Now what's the matter with you Suji?" Mariam asked in her bad temper, "Why do you look so happy, when I feel only sick?"
Only when she realized that she had been lost in her own thoughts, she replied, "Oh, it's nothing Mariam." and shirked away across the café to avoid the piercing glance of Mariam.
"Was it Sam?" Mariam continued prodding, "He is coming today, isn't he?"
This made Sujata stop at once and her smile faded away from her lips. Without turning back to face her, in her longing voice, she replied, "He is not coming this weekend dear. He is out on a trip with his friends somewhere."
Mariam asked no further. She knew all about her son. It was the third time Sameer cancelled his trip home, in last couple of months.
After that both of them got busy serving the orders for the ladies and sharing a laugh or two with them, while the cat, with her overfull belly, had already left for her afternoon nap.
The day passed so soon.
It was six in the evening. Mrs. Gupta and her gang had only left a couple of minutes ago. It was now only three of them, Mariam, Suji and Tiny, each enjoying their evening snacks, with a cup of coffee for the ladies, and a cup of milk for the cat. And while they were lolling around, it hit Mariam again and she asked, "Hey Suji, but you didn't tell me who was on the call then?"
And this made Suji jump off her seat, as if someone pricked a needle in her pants. Mariam and Tiny looked surprised. She twisted her wrist to look at the watch only to exclaim that she was getting late and thumped her fists on the table, making the cat jump off and scurry away into Mariam's lap.
Mariam took suspicion in her behavior. She narrowed her eyes and twisted her jaw just to give a dramatic look and with her questioning glance she almost shouted, "Getting late for what??"
Mariam had a hunch and she was proved right only when Suji told her that, "You must already know dear…" while trying to hide her coy smile in vain.
Mariam shrugged and burst into laughter, and pushing the cat out of her lap she retorted, "Better get ready for your dinner then… Or you would blame me, you wicked woman!"
Suji was already on her way in, to get ready, leaving Mariam standing there who now exchanged a look with Tiny. But Tiny was too busy licking her back, and had no idea that Mariam was looking at her.
In her bedroom Sujata fiddled anxiously in her cupboard for too long, deciding what to wear, until she finally settled with her favorite light cream colored dress. When she was almost ready she looked at herself in the mirror. A skinny middle aged woman of fair complexion, dark brown hairs with a few silver colored strings peeking from here and there.
She thought to herself that she looked good. She wanted to look good tonight. From the drawer she picked her red lipstick. And then she looked perfect… Even with her one missing tooth.
It was eight, by the time she got ready. The car had arrived at the gate to pick her up.
A middle aged man, built strong and looked too long with a height of 6 feet or more, was standing at the door, waiting for her. Sujata came out just in time to find him there. He was a retired military officer who now runs his own business, and often comes to 'Suji's Café' to have some good time. The two of them had grown a fondness for each other by taking some time out of their forsaken lives.
Rajveer was a man in his early fifties who had never married before, and who was now looking handsome in his dark maroon suit with a hard-lined smile on his stern face.
Sujata had given it a lot of thought. And she decided to move on with her life, to leave behind her misery and loneliness, and seek happiness again. And she liked Rajveer's company so much.
It was Rajveer who called her in the afternoon which made Sujata all too happy and lost in her thoughts. He called to invite her for a dinner tonight for which the two of them were now on their way in his car.
Suji was so elated and kept on blushing every time she stole a glance at Rajveer, who himself was smiling while trying to keep his focus on the road ahead, as he was driving.
The two of them were having a good time, discussing the ordinary stuff of their lives, laughing at trivial things, and enjoying their dinner.
Life seemed quite easy in his company. She forgot all her worries for the time.
Rajveer was telling her how he makes his chocolate coffee in a different way when her phone began ringing. She looked at the screen and her expression turned abruptly into that of confusion and worry.
It was Sameer. But he never called that late before. Especially when he was on a trip or in a party, he wouldn't bother to call at all. Rajveer read the uneasiness in her face and told her to pick up the call.
"Sam beta?" she asked in her slow voice, "Is everything's alright?"
"Everything's great Mom!" replied Sameer. He sounded too excited. "I just got good news Mom," he continued, "and I thought I would share it with you first."
This put a tiny smile on Sujata's face again. She became a little hopeful and asked him about the news.
Rajveer was looking at her expressions intently which turned in a moment from that of happiness into an expression of grave sadness, and by the time she replied back to her son in her now shattered voice that, "That's very good news beta. I am happy for you." she was already in tears when she hung up the call.
Through her tearful eyes, cracked voice and a pretentious smile on her lips, she tried to weave her words together in a sentence and told Rajveer, "Sam just delivered the good news that his visa had just been approved and that he would now be going to work in US for atleast three years. But he says that he is positive that this period of three years would be extended even further." With her moistened eyes and blurry sight, she now looked at Rajveer. "And he said that he wanted to deliver this good news first to her mother only."
And then she broke down completely. Uncontrollable strings of tears falling down her eyes. She buried her face in her hands when Rajveer came closer and tried to console her. She felt glad that Rajveer was with her. And in his company she found salvation and a little peace. Maybe a little peace is all she needed.