Dhruv walked into the café around 6 in the evening after a busy day at work. He ordered a black coffee with no sugar. This café had become his favorite since the time he had moved into this city. He had his reasons when asked why this café was his favorite. First and foremost- fine coffee, finer people and finest ambiance. Another reason why Dhruv loved the place was the songs they played in the background. The café had a perfect coffee house play list which created a good vibe. This café was one of the few book cafés located near Dhruv’s workplace. When asked, Dhruv often calls himself a ‘bibliophile’. He loved to read books and had a passion for collecting them. Dhruv has a well maintained library at his home; a dream of every book lover.
Dhruv collected his coffee and walked to his usual spot- the table at the corner of the café. He placed his satchel on the table and pulled out a book from it. There were a lot of people in the nearby tables having their coffee and reading their books and most of them were reading from an e-book reader, which Dhruv hated the most. Dhruv was of the opinion that an e-book reader can never, ever give the joy of reading from the book. That feeling while holding the paper jacketed book, the aroma of the printed pages; an e-book reader can never give you those. So wherever he went, he always kept a book with him. As he dived deeper and deeper into the book, he lost himself. There was no café, no people around him, but only his coffee and the book.
“Dhruv, is that you?” a question accompanied with a touch on his shoulder pulled him out of the book which he was reading.
The girl came and sat across him, smiling. “Don’t you remember me? Please don’t tell me you don’t!” she said. Dhruv couldn’t recognize the face except to notice how beautiful she was. Dhruv nodded his head in a No.
“I am Abha, your batch mate from college. Still doesn’t ring a bell?” she asked.
Now it dawned on him. Abha was his batch mate at college. A beautiful, dynamic girl who was active in all the college programs, be it literary or cultural, the program was incomplete without her. Dhruv had also participated in various inter college competitions with Abha as his team mate.
“How could I possibly forget!” Dhruv mentally kicked himself and started talking. “Oh yes I do Abha, how could I forget my team mate. How are you?” He asked.
“I am good Dhruv. I just moved into this city and I had some shopping to do. It was then I remembered I didn’t have my cup of coffee in the evening today. My friend suggested this café and I should say this is pretty good.” She stopped.
“Ah, old habits die hard.” Dhruv winked raising his ‘almost-empty’ mug.
“Just a moment.” Abha stood up and walked towards the counter to get her coffee. While on her way back, she stopped at the book shelf to get a book for herself. Dhruv was closely watching her. She looked the shelf and finally pulled out Paulo Coehlo from it. She came back to the table and said “Old habits die hard.”
“You always had a thing for Coelho right.” Dhruv said.
“Always…” She replied.
Dhruv liked how she suddenly brought up Harry Potter reference. She took a sip from her mug and started reading. Dhruv couldn’t read; at least not with Abha in front of her. Dhruv couldn’t do anything but to sit there and admire her beauty. The way she had dressed in a sky blue top and a jeans, the hair which fell free from behind her shoulders, the way she moved away that pane of hair that often fell on her face, Dhruv felt a sudden urge to take her in his arms.
“Behave yourselves Dhruv” he cursed himself and tried to dwell back into his book. He constantly looked at her face and she had to ask him not to freak her out, quite a few times. Dhruv felt a sudden rush of old memories, the debate club, the book review sessions in the evening.
The clock kept running and it was almost 8. The café was still busy. Abha had come back after keeping the book back into the shelf.
“So Dhruv, I need to leave. My friend will be waiting for me. I had promised I’ll join her for cooking dinner.” Abha said.
Dhruv never wanted to let her go. He could sit twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year watching Abha’s beautiful face. Abha wasn’t always the perfect girl, but she was perfect in her own way.
“That’s ok. I’ll drop you.” Dhruv stood up putting his book into the satchel. They got out. Dhruv brought his black sedan to the café lobby and Abha got in. Abha kept talking about her friend in the city, how her parents were, but the only thing Dhruv payed attention to was the fact that Abha- his beautiful batch mate was sitting besides him.
“Stop, stop! It’s right here” She said on reaching her friend’s residence.
Dhruv lowered the passenger side window and waved a bye. The car hadn’t reached a few meters when Dhruv suddenly stopped the car. Abha was calling him from behind.
“What is the hurry Dhruv?” She laughed.
“Oh, that laugh!” Dhruv felt his heart racing.
Dhruv got out and walked towards her. “So that was a fine evening for a first day in the new city.” Abha said. “I got to meet you after a long time. So thanks Dhruv.” She shook hands with him.
Dhruv walked back to his car and Abha was waking towards the front gate.
“Abha,” Dhruv called.
“Yes Dhruv.” She turned back and looked at him.
“What are you doing tomorrow, uh not tomorrow, day after tomorrow evening ?” he asked.
“I have to join the work from tomorrow and day after tomorrow evening, I’ll be free after my work. Why ?” She stopped.
“Why don’t we catch up for a coffee at the café we met today?” He asked.
“Sure. I’d love to.” She smiled.
“Ok then, day after tomorrow evening, coffee shop. Take care.” Dhruv said, walking back to his car. Abha waved him a good bye closing the gate.
Dhruv drove to his home. He felt a happiness inside. It was a new beginning, beginning of something good, something wonderful, which is to be loved and cherished.