He played along with a spoon, sitting alone by the corner table. Using the spoon as an imaginary drum stick he played along, listening to the Smokie song from his playlist. Like always, he was waiting for her.
“Happy Anniversary my darling.” he whispered softly to no one there.
They made a beautiful couple. Everyone thought so. And he felt it himself too. They did make a beautiful pair. He fell in love with her the day he saw for the first time at the library. She was returning a Philip Larkin Anthology and he was paying a late fee fine for his Ted Hughes Collection. One look at her hazel eyes and he was floored. There was a sweet perfume around the air she walked. Her wavy streaked hair softly bounced as she walked away, looking at him smilingly as she went. He kept holding on to the Ted Hughes open mouthed. Staring at her till she was out of sight.
Their courtship was as whirlwind as it could be. He could be charming when he wanted to be and he charmed the life out of her. He swept her off her feet and soon they were a couple everyone was talking about.
The waiter came and kept his cappuccino in front of him and the espresso for her. He didn’t say anything to him but interchanged the cups as he left. The espresso was his and the cappuccino hers. He kept playing with the spoon as he looked at the empty chair on the side of the cappuccino cup. “She will come, I know she will,” he reassured himself.
Their marriage happened all of a sudden. One day as they walked together after a romantic dinner the rains came all of a sudden. They both ran, holding hands, as they took shelter under the arched building by the street. It was the library where they had met for the first time.
“Will you marry me? ”he said looking right into her eyes, still panting from the running.
“Marry me, please.”
“Ohh you know.”
“I said yes.”
It was a quick and sudden marriage. Too sudden for some of their close friends who couldn’t make it in time for the big day. But there was a lot of flowers cakes champagne and laughter that day. Everyone was happy. The world seemed a sunny place that day.
The rain kept falling steadily as he looked outside the window of the coffee shop. “Maybe this is delaying her,” he thought as his eyes looked at the washed out streets outside. He hadn’t touched his espresso.
The trouble started after the first few months. The gap between their expectations and reality widened rapidly. Communication was at a premium as they both slipped into their respective silent hells. Their silence fought battles with each other when a word of understanding or care could have made things different. They didn’t.
Eventually the separation too came rapidly. Just like their courtship and marriage.
“This cannot be the end,” he tried to tell her.
“This cannot happen to us”
But they couldn’t deny reality. They had to part their ways and knew it would be hard on both of them.
“Let’s meet whenever we feel we can get over the past,” they promised each other.
It was six years now and the attempt at forgetting the past still seemed futile.
Like every year, he waited for some more time. Hoping. Expecting. Praying. But she didn’t come. Like the previous years he left the money on the table along with two untouched cups. He left the single red rose he would bring every year for her on the table. He walked away from the table with a heart slightly heavier than the previous year.
And like every year, she stood by the side of the coffee shop as she watched him walk out and walk into the streets till he got lost in the crowd. Like every previous year she didn’t have the strength to overcome the past and enter the coffee shop.
“Happy anniversary darling,” she whispered softly as she wiped her face and turned away.
Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar