The intimate insets of a lunchtime cafe, brewing with steaming rays filtering from the French pane alongside the sparse procession of bean coloured tables. Ron, Sheena, Sanjay, the waiters, stacked up behind... the counter, chatting lifelessly, their unwelcoming eyes fixed at the door.
The cafe is occupied fairly, most of them couples, along with the usual bunch of exasperated B-Grade film makers who are narrating their future epics-to-be to one another, in a faint hope to intimidate somebody who will pay their cappuccino bill. And, on the rear end, behind the pillar fixed with the vertical plasma, that is playing the latest Beyonce video, the only hot thing in the cafe, sit Kamal and Samara. Love pouring out of the kettle of their eyes, as they look in opposite directions grinning at each others’ fate. Samara is wearing a black knee length cocktail dress scattered with white polka dots, her hair provokingly set pointing her cleavage. While, the tiara in her left middle finger dazzles, as if taunting Kamal who is in his office blues and black, with a maroon coloured tie folded in his shirt pocket.
The picture shakes as Sanjay, one of the three waiters, slams their order on the table. A black forest cake with two glasses of Oreo shakes. For the first time, they look at each other, smiling loudly to hide the grin. The love is still there, but.
Kamal runs his finger over the cake, carving a heart around the cherry icing. He then brings that chocolaty finger near Samara’s lips. Waits! Samara grabs the finger and puts it down on her plate. She then takes out a fresh wipe from her matching mini purse and wipes the cake off his finger. Without looking at him, she takes her glass of Oreo shake and takes a sip.
“Oh I forgot... Cheers. To me!” she says as she touches her glass to Kamals’ and takes another sip.
Agitated, Kamal takes the plastic knife and butchers one half of the cake on his plate noisily, almost spilling his shake as he slides it away from him. Samara lets out a mild laughter.
“Well, Cakes, Shakes, Tissot... someone is getting rich by the day it seems”, she says.
Kamal looks up, forgetting how Samara snubbed him, appeals, “I am earning well now. As good as Mukesh... have booked a new flat in Lakshyachandi’s also. I will be moving in next month.” He waits again, beaming.
“Don’t do this please”, she says. Both look in opposite directions once again.
They stay silent for the next few minutes, their eyes fixed at each other, occupied in a relentless conversation. Then Samara says, looking away from Kamal, “I just love cafes. Sitting here, watching other people, their lives... I just find it so interesting. How every table has a story to tell! Thousands each day...” “All hues and genres”, she adds.
He remains silent.
Pissed, she taunts, “Clearly you don’t have the taste to appreciate.”
“Tell me about it...” he retorts immediately.
Another mild laughter from Samara! Kamal grins back this time. Encouraged, Samara begins, “Look. There beneath the screen. That couple, they just had a fight. Let me guess, from the actions they were doing, it is so evident she caught him red handed. Look. Look. She hit him on his dick. Ooo... That must have hurt. But, good, set right the unfaithful bastard!”
“And that bearded man with that girl...” she says in disgust, “must be her boss. Trying to get all hanky panky... Oh! And look at that baby... with his papa... ooo cho chweet must be just two days old. I really want one. I think kids are the best thing to happen in a married life”
“One thing I will agree”, says Kamal flaunting his conviction. “Look behind, now, this should make you happy. Those two girls near the counter, in green and yellow! They are a couple”, Samara hisses animating her brows.
“... and how do you know that?” says Kamal, almost shouting in excitement, and making a full round turn to get a clear view. Amused, Samara says, “Let’s just say, the ladies room... it has its own revelations!” winking. Her thick upper lashes bouncing off the lower ones.
“Oh just look around...” with flooded eyes she says, “I can write volumes of stories from in here...” she gasps finishing her last bite of cake from the plate.
Kamal takes his first Oreo shake sip. He looks at Samara who is still concocting stories about other tables in her head, says... “And what about our story?”
Samara freezes, her eyes fixed at the table she was making another story about.
Both remain silent for a long while, until Samara’s phone rings. She takes the call, not saying anything, just listening. She puts the phone back in her purse. Once again they look at each other. “Our story begins when I enter this cafe...” she waits to see if Kamal interrupts. He doesn’t. And then says, “... and ends as I step out.”
“I have got to go now... the car is outside”, she says getting up, her eyes fixed at the lesbian table, enviously.
Kamal holds her hand as she takes her first step. And says, “By the way, Happy Anniversary once again. Wish Mahesh too... I will see you tomorrow.” And he lets go of her hand.
“I am waiting to wish you the same”, Samara says as a tear drips from her left lashes, cascading elegantly down her distorted face. She stands there, as Kamal pays the bill and leaves the cafe. Then she leaves too... leaving the table alone, for another story.