Ananya sat in the corner of a coffeeshop, weeping, hidden from the gaze of others. She did not want others to see her in such a precarious position. She held her head down, her eyes fixed on the table, and her phone balanced on her lap. Aman, the coffee shop manager, saw her but did not want to intrude on her privacy. So he turned his attention elsewhere, but Ananya had caught his eye. Therefore, she became a little alarmed because she didn’t want to seem like a five-year-old.
She looked depressed, with dull brown eyes and heavy bags under them from a lack of sleep. Her dry hair flew everywhere as it emerged from her hurried messy bun, which stood embarrassingly over her head. She wore a crimson wrap-around crop top with cream palazzos, supported by a dandelion-coloured belt that complimented her ivory skin. Aside from her glum expression, she looked stunning.
Aman was saddened to see her depressed state. He wanted to do something to comfort her, but it was against his rules. He didn’t know what to do because he didn’t know her name, she hadn’t ordered anything since the time she came, and it would be impolite to demand her to leave. She was weeping, she was clearly in a vulnerable state, and the least he could do was leave her alone.
But could he? Any tear that Ananya shed drew him closer to her. He couldn’t look away from her or her pretty face. The coffee shop was almost empty and there weren’t a lot of customers to serve. With nothing much to do, Aman made a tasty ‘Hot Chocolate.’ And with that, he went and placed it on Ananyas’ table. She didn’t look up, maybe she was trying to hide her face, or perhaps she didn’t notice Aman, or maybe she didn’t want to look up because she was embarrassed. Aman thought it was best to leave her, he had already done his job.
Aman returned to the counter, but he kept staring at Ananya out of the corner of his eye. He wanted her to drink the coffee so she might feel better. But Ananya was busy staring at her phone screen with dull orbs, struggling to hold back her tears that threatened to fall from her eyes which would create rivers on her cheeks and waterfalls into her cup of coffee. Just then, the steam from her coffee swirled above the mug and stuck to the coffee shop window, obscuring her view from the world beyond the glass. She was still lost in her phone. 📱
From the 8-10 customers that sat in the coffee shop, some had started to leave. Aman was still waiting for Ananya to drink the coffee, but realized it would have become cold. Just when he was going to clean her table, Ananya glanced up, surprised to find a cup of coffee on her table. She hadn’t ordered anything. She wiped her tears and, on instinct, turned to look at an approaching Aman, who had stopped midway. Their eyes met for a split second, after which Ananya returned her gaze to the cup of coffee. Without saying or asking anything, she slowly drank the now cold coffee, left money on the table, and hurriedly walked out of the coffee shop. Aman was perplexed. Perhaps something was seriously wrong in her life. He wished to see her the next day, but she was just another customer, and he was just another regular, working in a coffee shop. So he let go of the possibility of seeing her again. But was she ‘just another customer?’
There she was, exactly at 7 pm, at the same table. She wore a lovely red colour long skirt that flattered her white button-down shirt very well. She wore a scintillating choker that enhanced the beauty of her overall look. She was gorgeous. But only if she removed this gloomy look and smiled. Still, Aman was very happy to see her. He hadn’t expected she would come. Yet again, she sat staring at her phone. Aman still didn’t know her name, and there was no way to ask her. He decided to do what he was best at: making and serving coffee. He prepared another cup of coffee, this time a ‘Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino’, set it on her table, and left.
From her peripheral vision, Ananya saw a pair of legs walk past her table. The urge to look at the coffee shop guy was intense, but she didn’t want to look up and meet his gaze. So she did what she was best at: ignoring and pretending. Just this time, she curled her small slender fingers around her cup, lifted it to see its wet condiment through the transparent lid, and took a long sip with the help of the straw, the sweet taste of coffee overwhelming her taste buds. Once her coffee was finished, she got up, put the money on the table, and left. This became her usual routine.
She came everyday. Same time, same table. Often she would sit silently, other times her fingers would drum along to the soft music playing in the coffee shop, and now and then her head would bop in sync with the beat of the music. But she was always alone, troubled and distraught. She never ordered anything, but Aman always brought her a fresh cup of coffee every day. He had her try everything, from ‘Vanilla Latte’ to ‘Caffé Mocha’ to ‘Choco Java Chip.’ But they still didn’t know each other’s names. There was an unspoken agreement between them, unspoken words that they exchanged, an unspoken relationship that they didn’t know was brewing between them. A lot can happen over a cup of coffee! ☕️
Ananya liked coming to this coffeeshop now. This was one of the best coffee shops in the city. The air here was always overflowing with a dizzying array of coffee aromas mixed in an unforgettable blend of nuances. There were sounds of people chatting, cups being picked off plates, and assistants working, all of which contributed to the vibrant and enthusiastic atmosphere. Baked foods were always neatly arranged on the transparent glass cabinet, ready to be served. There were also a variety of cakes like Blueberry Cheesecake, Loaves, and Cookies. The walls were decorated with vintage photographs, encouraging coffee tasters to admire the photography techniques, and remember their past. The nine-foot-high ceiling of the coffee shop was always lit up with low lights that were bright enough to reflect on the chestnut-coloured furniture.
Ananya enjoyed coming into this mini art museum and sitting in her cozy corner, silently staring at the pictures in this hushed setting, sneaking glances at Aman. It all seemed to combine so well with each other that Ananya thought she was a slacker in such a beautiful setting. But who would tell her that it was her, who was the beautiful setting for Aman?
Everyday Aman waited for her, to give her a new coffee, expecting her to smile once. This continued for a month. Suddenly after that, she stopped coming. Aman waited for her, he hoped everyday she would come. But there was no sign of her. He felt sad, but what could he do. He didn’t know her name. Maybe everything went back to being normal in her world, now that she had shaken his world. Nature’s equilibrium was preserved. 💔
After about 2 months, Aman heard a sweet voice when making entries in the register. His heart had a feeling it was her. He didn’t want to believe it, but something compelled him to tell her it was her. The unspoken connection.
He didn’t want to look up. Was it her?
“Hi,” Ananya said. Aman raised his head, shocked to see her. He may have died just to see her again. ‘Happy’ didn’t even come close to describing how he felt at that moment. He couldn’t express himself verbally. Suddenly, everything in the universe felt small in comparison to that moment. He couldn’t believe it. He thought he was dreaming when Ananya again said, “Hi, my name is…”
Aman was so engrossed in her that he didn’t even hear her name. He just stood there, admiring her appearance. Today, she was smiling. She looked happy. Gorgeous. Lovely. Stunning. Aman could use all the good adjectives to describe her today. Even that would be less. Ananya was wearing the same dress she wore the first time she met Aman. Indirectly. But she looked her best today because she was smiling. She’d let her hair down today, and it was cascading down her back. She’d let an unruly smear of hair fall down her forehead, which Aman wished he could tuck behind her ear. Her silky black hair matched her well, and this was the first time Aman had a good look at them. The caramel highlights in her hair offered a nice contrast of shade, which reminded him of decadent desserts that are hard to resist. Ananya had never let her hair down everytime she came to the coffee shop. They were always tied in a sloppy bun or poorly drawn back into a chignon.
Today her chocolate brown eyes met Aman for the first time. How long he had wanted her to look at him like that! Her cherry red lips added a pop of colour to her skin. Her delicate hands terminated in painted, polished butterscotch nails. Did he mention charming and attractive? 😍
Aman’s reverie broke when Ananya spoke again, “Hi for the third time, can I please have a Hot Chocolate?”
“Sure madam, Short, Tall, Grande, Venti?” stammered Aman. He was mentally kicking himself for not reacting the other two times Ananya spoke to him.
“Much like the first time you gave it to me”, replied Ananya with a blush. That Hot Chocolate worked like a charm.
“And what name do I write on your cup?” asked Aman.
“Ananya”, she replied, and went back to sitting in her cozy space in the coffee shop. Finally!
Aman prepared the coffee, went and set it on her table. He paused for a moment to speak with her, then realized it would be inappropriate to speak to a customer in this manner, so he turned around and was about to leave when Ananya said, “wait, I am sorry.” For shaking his world upside down?
“I am sorry mam, I didn’t understand you”, replied Aman, as he turned towards Ananya.
“Please don’t call me mam, and will you please sit down so that we can talk? Can we not pretend Aman?” Thanks to the nametag on his apron.
“Yes sure, but…how do you know my name?” asked Aman, completely forgetting about his nametag. Ananya pointed towards it. Aman felt stupid to have been pointed out such an obvious thing.
Ananya signalled Aman to sit on the chair opposite her. He hesitated for a moment for there were other customers, but he didn’t want to miss this opportunity. Once both got comfortable, Ananya spoke again, “The first time I came here, I was crying. I’d had a bitter breakup with the guy I dated for 6 long years. He called me that day to tell me he fell out of love and didn’t want to continue our relationship. That day was the day he had proposed to me first. I couldn’t believe it. It broke my heart.” Life doesn’t play fair, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart.
“I came to this coffee shop to sit alone and do nothing. My phone was open and displayed the text from him, the text I was constantly looking at – Please live your life and let me live mine! We are done! I wanted to throw my phone across the coffee shop and scream, but I didn’t want to create a scene.”
Before Aman could respond, Ananya added, “I want to thank you. Before you ask why, please allow me to finish. I came here every day to sit and contemplate what I could do with my life. How could the one I cared about the most leave me in such a way? I wanted to slit my wrists and die. But then your coffee came along, and shook my world of lost hope. Your coffee gave me a different reason to get up in the morning. I started looking forward to different coffees everyday.”
Aman made a gesture to speak. He wanted to tell her he was happy he could help, he wanted to tell her so much more, he wanted to show her he could do anything for her love, fight anyone who made her cry, but sufficed himself with the thought that he was just a coffeeshop guy. Ananya kept her fingers on his mouth to prevent him from speaking, and said,
“With different coffees everyday, you showed me that there are flavours, that I have options in this world, and that I don’t have to settle for one. If I didn’t try new flavours, I would have missed out on the best. You saved my life. I was scared to invest in any kind of connection in my life after the break up. I was afraid, not to commit, but to surrender myself and place my heart ❤️ into hands that didn’t know how to hold it. But you rekindled my faith in love, it took me 2 months to realize my feelings. Those 2 months when I didn’t come to the coffeeshop, I realized I missed your coffee, I missed you, so I finally have the courage to accept some thing. And I am just going to say it.”
Kneeling down on one knee, Ananya sat down and took his hands in hers and confessed, “So I am back in this coffee shop for you Aman, to tell you that I have fallen for you, and it’s not the best pick up line ever, but I want to tell you, you are just the way I like my coffee.”
“You mean different flavours everyday?” asked Aman, hinting at the possibility of different men in her life.
Ananya laughed and said, “I meant, I like my coffee just the way YOU make it!”
“I love you Ananya!” replied Aman, as he pulled Ananya in his arms. Love me like you do, la-la-love me like you do, touch me like you do, ta-ta-touch me like you do…plays in the background.