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Meant To Be

by Puja Chakraborty
(Guwahati, India)

There was a massive influx of ideas to an otherwise lethargic Cafe locale. Words tossed and turned in the smell of freshly brewed Assam tea placed on a table between two "would be lovers". At present, however, they were the subject of each other's extrospection. They would confess this one year later at their anniversary against the backdrop of the Himalayas in Sikkim. But right now, there were other things to confess amidst the traffic sounds and evening lights of Guwahati. Things like how she hates dogs and how he hates dogs. In such a mutual hatred, nonetheless, lies the foundation of a strong relationship.

They were meant to be lovers.

The evening was in the mood to make that happen. The weather was cold, time was moving slow and the Cafe was almost empty. Loy and Anisha weren't prepared for this. It's the first time they had met. But, oh, how they could not stop talking! It was embarrassing to their asocial minds. The occasional outbursts of loud music on the street signalling the arrival of an all merry New Year picnic group in a deluxe bus would serve as their only refuge.

And then they would try to be quiet. To not talk. To not ask questions. Not to give themselves away.

To not fall in love. But they would eventually.
Loy leaned forward from his chair and resting his elbow on the hard, cold marble table top remarked, "I fail to understand this pre-occupation of people with picnic and New Year. And the loud dance music with nonsensical lyrics, of course.”

Anisha lifting up her cup of tea to take a sip, paused halfway. He spoke her thoughts out. She was impressed but he cannot know that. Never. So, pretending to examine the red lipstick mark on the white porcelain cup, she nodded and took a sip rather casually.
"Are you getting late?" he asked looking at his phone. Loy did not wear a watch and neither did Anisha.
"No," she replied and took another sip. "Why?" she asked wondering if he was getting late.
He chuckled. "I cannot drink tea as fast as you," he admitted with his tea still untouched.
"I cannot drink it cold. So used to drinking it right away," she stated it like the caffeine addict she was.
"To be very honest, I am not too fond of hot beverages," he confessed with guilt dripping from his bearded face and droopy eyes.
Not too similar, after all. She thought and smiled. "Long Island, next time then?"

They broke out into laughter. Why didn't we meet earlier? he thought watching her laugh. The red in her lips complimented the brown in her eyes and dressed in shades of black and grey, he knew she did not like making a big deal of her appearance. A year from now, he would make a big deal about it when they’ll be lovers.

They were meant to be lovers, after all.
It had been an hour and a half, and the evening was
starting to give up on them. The tea was cold, their thoughts were moving slow and tiny bonfires were starting to pop up by the street where the evening addas began.

Come on, say something! Tell her you like her brown eyes staring at you. Tell him you like his childish chuckle.
Tonight, be lovers.
Their inner voices cried.

They were not even friends. Loy and Anisha were the only ones to show up at the Writers Club Weekly. It was a desperate attempt by the old and dying Cafe to get some customers. The banner with the words "Writers Club Weekly" in bright yellow continued its unattractive gaze at Loy and Anisha. Earlier that evening, they were eagerly engaged in a critique of its aesthetics which to both of them was the reason for the Cafe's failure. It was, probably, one of the first things they had agreed on since the beginning of the evening. It made them sit there for nearly two hours asking Reason to wait at the street corner and inviting Spontaneity to tag along.

Hence, the infamous Spontaneity led them through their conversations, skipping from one topic to another, from impersonal to personal, like two lost friends meeting after ages. But Reason couldn’t wait any longer listening to trivial conversations. She had to break in and stand behind the would be lovers. And Loy asked the question he had been meaning to ask the entire evening.

"How long have you been married?”
"A year and a half" she answered pushing a strand of hair behind her ears with her left hand. A diamond ring sat stubbornly on her ring finger. It was too big for her.

Loy’s phone started vibrating. He answered it and listened to a girl narrate her adventures at the mall for what seemed like the longest five minutes to Anisha.

"Girlfriend?" she asked after he hung up.
"Yes," Loy answered. "Since college" he added unnecessarily.

Anisha smiled and kept her empty tea cup on the table. Something inside her stirred.

Loy had a million questions he wanted to ask running through his head but all he could manage was an awkward forceful smile. Anisha slowly looked away suddenly running out of words to say.

"Perhaps, next time people will show up” Loy said in his bid to break the silence between them.

Anisha nodded and signalled the waiter for the bill, realising that they were vulnerable to saying things they did not mean if they sat there any longer. She wanted to leave in uncertainty.

Loy felt as if he was losing something he never had.

The evening gave up on them and the "would be lovers" sat there making a mockery of themselves. Tonight was Regret.

And even though a year from now, they would be old lovers lost in retrospection, tonight they were nothing more than two broke writers sitting on the balcony of a forgotten Cafe inhaling fumes of their striking similarities and contaminating their minds with Hope.
They were meant to be lovers, after all.

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