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  • Kshitij Shokeen

“I still go to the coffee shop.”

A letter to the guy who left me before we met.

"It was an odd time of the day and a strange thought which led me to that coffee shop. But you know, weird decisions make a fabulous story.

I had always imagined my love story to be visually cinematic. With dark clouds and breezy winds, that makes us feel the need to be close to someone, to be around someone who is warm and comforting. Sudden rain perhaps. Where I and you would have gotten out of a peaceful bookstore, having forgotten my umbrella at my home, you would offer yours. Dropping me till the very end of those narrow lanes where I’d thank you and you’d have asked my name.

But none of that happened and still it felt so wonderful. Even more than what I imagined.

The day was shining bright with sun just above my head and the air conditioned coffee shop was the best place for me that noon. Don’t know what brought you there, but you never visited that place ever again. Which is why I think you too went there just to beat the heat.

I was alone there with my coffee and you came, you did not notice me then and crossed me and sat two tables away. Apart from that coffee our solitude was in common. I did not want to bother you, but could I have taken my eyes off you? I had not met someone so perfect till then and since then I haven’t. You saw me once. Just once. I saw you when you saw me. And your ways, your eyes, your gaze pulled me. My body could not gather enough force to walk up to you and sit next to you. I don’t think anyone who is truly in love with someone could do that the very first time?

Because when you’re in deep love, you’re also in very deep fear. Fear of change. Fear of losing what you love. Losing is death. So, I did not move, I could not move. But I started talking to you, you did not hear but I talked. You told me stuff that I hadn’t heard before. You told me, you read Virginia, your gentle gaze told me that. You also said your coffee was pathetic, and how your favorite time of the year was fall. I wish I could have told you a bit about myself that day.

You remained there even after your coffee. Was it patience or some kind of contentment within yourself that made you sit there with such ease or was it simply your time off from your regular chores? Talking to you for those few moments was liberating and enslaving at the same time. But then you had to go home? Or some other place? you didn’t tell me. But I would never forget this conversation I had with the most perfect man I ever met.

And, not everything about our conversation was imaginary! Maybe some of it, maybe you never read Virginia, maybe your coffee wasn’t that bad, maybe some part of this conversation was imaginary but you? You were real. And you were the most significant part of that conversation.

I did not want this meeting to be our last one and I came to the coffee shop the very next day, same time, same place with same coffee, waited till it was the same time when you had left but you did not come. I don’t know how much time has passed since the day we met, it must be years now. I can live the rest of my life in absolute joy of that one noon I met you but I still go to that coffee shop. Not for the air conditioned ambience, for you.

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