I sighed…..a breath of relief; it’s been a long, hard walk uphill here. I looked up to the new and improved signboard of my favourite bookstore. It is my favourite bookstore, given the fact that there are only two good bookstores in my small hometown and this being the only one having a café along with the store.
I enter with a gleeful smile like an eager child entering a toy-shop, whilst receiving the warmest smile from the owner of the store. I head towards the counter of the café; “How would you take your tea?” – asks the café lady. “Seriously, very seriously” – I replied. We both had a good laugh and I order my favourite Chamomile Green Tea and head towards the book shelves.
I grab a book and hand my old and tattered reading card to the owner (Reading card is a special privilege for the regular customers. The readers can sit and read without having to buy it…just like window shopping of the books).
He smiles again, “long time, huh…!” he says. “Yes, sir” – I said. “Where were you?” – He asked. “Calcutta.” – I replied. “Hot place it is.” – His reply.
I laughed. His voice brings back countless memories.
“Ma’am, your tea is ready” – the café lady said..
“Thanks”. I take my tea cup and sit on the couch next to the entrance doorway. Having tea is my favourite thing to do. I contemplate many things while enjoying its presence and taste. Tea for me is like a good friend who listens and ultimately becomes a part of you.
I take a sip. “Heavenly” – I say to myself.
The place is heavenly, the atmosphere, the warmth. It’s undeniably beautiful.
Home is the place where you find the pieces you lost in the crowd of the big city and fix it and tea…well, it just seals the deal.
Being here after such a long time brings back a flood of memories. From school to crushes…to giving names to teachers…well the list seems endless. Just then a bunch of teenage girls enter the store and head straight away to the fantasy-romance section.
I smiled looking at them and read the first line of the book I picked up.
“Happy are those who have friends.”
I repeat the last word, “friends…” It took me to the time when nothing else mattered more than friendship.
Somewhere between juggling college life, college friends and career we fell short on our friendship. I miss them. My other three soul mates with whom I spent 14 years of my school life. Who knew time could be jealous of our love and friendship….?? Who knew….??
I take another two-three sips of my tea and my gaze is drawn upon a traveller looking for travel books.
“Hate travelling” – I muttered to myself. Having travelled to and fro between two cities has really diminished my idea of travelling and what travelling meant to me when I was in middle school. Travelling wasn’t carrying dirty clothes of your college to make the maid wash it at home…as it is now. It was more like preparing; preparing for vacation, preparing for fun. A preparation of happiness..!!
While at my deepest reverie, I notice an old couple outside. A wife…helping her husband up the stairs whilst moving fast and teasing him how fit she still is.
I laugh (loud enough).
This brings me to the thought…will it all matter in the end…will I be able to stay happy with the limited amount of time and resources…will I be lucky enough to have a partner, who will be with me through thick and thin…like that old lady?
I see something shiny inside my cup while drinking my tea. It looks like a ring maybe..!!
I look up to call the café lady and I see him…with yellow daisies in his hand and beaming at me.
I got up from my couch. He walked towards me and hugged me. As we are about to leave I look back at the half empty tea cup and think to myself…
It’s not just a drink..
And I took the last full sip……