She was happy. She was satisfied with how her life had turned out to be, and happy she was sharing her happiness with the love of her life. A lot had changed since her college life, but, the only thing constant in her life was him. She still remembered the day she met him for the first time.
It was in the coffee shop in her college. She had gone there for her daily cup of coffee. But, that day, she felt something different since she left the hostel. Everything looked calm and peaceful unlike the daily melodrama in her college. She sat at her usual place. A corner seat, where she could watch everybody. She liked watching people and studying them. She was sitting there peacefully and sipping her hot coffee when out of nowhere a guy came and stood in front of her. He was panting a little. He kept a piece of paper on the table, smiled and went away. She couldn’t even get a good look at him. It had all happened in a span of two minutes. All she could remember was that he wore a white shirt and blue jean (which happened to be one of her favorite outfits) and that his eyes seemed to shine at her.
She took the paper and read what was written on it. It was a love letter. She didn’t know if it was addressed to her because it just had a ‘hi’ in the beginning. But, when she started reading it, she got lost in the words she saw. It was the most beautiful love letter she had ever read, not that she had received many. She had gotten only one in her entire life, and it was from one of her classmates when she was in school. She hadn’t known what to do with it and so she had just shown it to her best friends. She remembered that she hadn’t given a reply to that guy. Eventually she had forgotten about it. She had read a lot of love letters in the books she used to read and come across some beautiful ones on the internet. But, none of them could be compared to the one she had received now. It was just signed ‘your admirer’. She read it again and again and wished that by some good fortune of hers it was meant for her. She searched for the guy in the coffee shop, but couldn’t find him. For the next couple of days she used to look out for the guy. But she didn’t see him anywhere. She had even begun to wonder if he was just a figment of her imagination. By now she had read the letter a hundred times and fell in love with the words in it. She hoped she would see him somewhere, at least she could tell him it was a good letter.
She gave up. She made herself believe that it was indeed a figment of her imagination. She now believed that her friends had just wanted to mess with her and were playing a prank. A week went by. She was again sitting at the same place sipping her coffee oblivious to everything around her; completely engrossed in the book she was reading when a shadow fell on her. She looked up. And there he was. She was completely surprised and yet silently glad she didn’t spill her coffee. He had a sheepish smile on his face and indicated the seat opposite her. She nodded.
“You must be wondering why I am here right now” he said.
“Well,… among many other things, yes.”
“I am sorry, let me introduce myself first. Hi, I am Mayank Sharma.”
She just smiled. Her heart was beating so fast that she thought she could hear It out loud. She wondered if he could also hear it. When she heard his name for the first time, it felt as if her prayer was answered and as if she had accomplished a mission, though she wasn’t sure what mission she had accomplished.
She realized she was staring at him without realizing it. For the past few minutes she had been in some other world spinning stories she hoped would happen to her. He was saying something. He was apologizing for the confusion he had created last week. He was saying that it was a big misunderstanding.
“Actually, that letter wasn’t meant for you” he was saying, with a sheepish smile on his face.
Even though she already knew it wasn’t meant for her, she felt some sort of heaviness fill her heart when she heard it being spoken to her. She understood that just a few words coming out of this strangers’ mouth could hurt her a lot. As if realizing that this was the reason her countenance fell, he continued, “Let me explain”.
“My friend, Sunil, is in love with a girl but he didn’t have the courage to tell her so. So I told him that he could just write a letter to her explaining everything he felt. But, since he wasn’t much of a writer, I wrote the letter myself. He wasn’t sure how the girl would react so he asked me to sign it as just an admirer. He said the girl would be at the coffee shop at that time and that I should give it to her and that I should just say that it was from a friend of mine and not reveal his name. So I came here and since you were the only girl here I assumed you were the girl he liked. But, when I saw you I forgot all that I was supposed to say and I went back.”
“I later realized when he told me, that I hadn’t given the letter to the one he liked but to someone else. I wanted to clear this with you and was searching for you ever since that day but couldn’t find you. Today when I was walking by, I felt like checking inside. And lo, here I find you engrossed in a book.”
She just smiled again. But, this time out of relief. She understood that the words coming out of this strangers’ mouth could also give her that tingling feeling inside her which she had only heard about in love stories.
“It’s okay; I understood it wasn’t meant for me when I read it. But, I loved what you wrote. It made me wish someone would write that for me too.”
He looked happy. As if he wanted her to say it. She realized that he had noticed her brighter countenance.
“If you want I will write one for you”, he said.
She blushed. She hoped she wasn’t that easy to read as she thought she was.
The conversation went on for about 20 minutes. But, she felt as though it was shorter. She was glad that the conversation wasn’t filled with awkward pauses, the ones she dreaded the most when she met strangers. She wanted to cherish the parting words he had said, forever.
“I forgot to ask, May I know your name?” he asked, with a small wink.
She blushed again, “Sanjana….. Sanjana Malhotra.” She hoped she wasn’t that obvious to him.
“Well, Sanjana, it was nice meeting you. I have a class right now. But, I would like to meet you again. How about coffee in the evening? At about five?”
She looked at him. He was looking at her expectantly. She didn’t know why, but she glanced at his hands which were under the transparent glass table top. His fingers were crossed. She couldn’t help but smile at him. “Sure, I’ll be here at five.” He looked happier. He said ‘see you’ and walked away, towards his class. She noticed that he had a small spring to his steps. She smiled again, looking back at her book. She liked this happy interruption.
He looked back at her, she was looking at her book and on her lips he could make out traces of a smile. He turned back and walked towards his class. He smiled.
She didn’t see it at first. On the table, there was a letter near her coffee cup. She had been too excited with everything to notice that he had slipped a letter across. She opened it. Her heart was beating very fast.
Like the other one it started with just a ‘hi’. She knew the rest of the letter was going to be etched on her heart forever. It read,
I have met you only once. I hope it is not going to be the last. When I first saw you all I could think of was how lucky Sunil is. But, when I found out that you weren’t the girl he was in love with, I was overjoyed. I searched everywhere for you, hoping to catch even a glimpse of you. And at last I can see you now, sitting at the same place I saw you first, with a book in your hand. I am hastily writing this letter, hoping that this time I would be able to give it to ‘YOU’. If you are reading this now, then it means I am the luckiest guy in this world and that I will have the pleasure of meeting you at five here again. I will be waiting. Fingers crossed.
She felt as if she was on top of the world. For a second she even contemplated on doing a somersault on the table. Then she reminded herself that it was a glass table and that she might end up in a hospital bed if she didn’t do it properly. She thanked God for her best friend, Ruth, who had cancelled her plans of having breakfast with her at the last minute, the day she met Mayank for the first time. If Ruth hadn’t cancelled it, she wouldn’t have been here at this very own coffee table that day. She wouldn’t have received the letter that would make her feel like the happiest person in the world.
She took out her phone and messaged Ruth telling her all about it. She felt like a teenager who had just met her first crush. Ruth was laughing at the other end, and told her that she had, in fact, cancelled her breakfast plans that day, after she had seen Sunil at the canteen. She said, she hadn’t mentioned the reason why she was cancelling her plans because she didn’t want her friend to sacrifice her daily routine because of her. Ruth told her that Sunil had been busy helping his friend write something and as a result hadn’t noticed her entering the canteen and had just assumed his ‘love’ would be at the coffee shop. They messaged for a bit and then she went to attend her own classes.
She met him again at five. He saw the letter sticking out from one of her notebooks. The conversation that day rested on the letter and the happy coincidence that started it all.
They met up regularly, became good friends and eventually fell in love with each other. They told their parents about it and got their blessings. They finished college and got jobs they liked. Their parents happily blessed them on their wedding day. They had an adventurous honeymoon. She gave birth to two beautiful kids, a son and a daughter. The kids grew up. The kids finished their college, got jobs and got married to people they fell in love with and had kids of their own. By then they were retired and living in a house of their own overlooking a beautiful lake. She was happy.
He sat there, on the balcony, reading a book and adjusting his glasses. He needed his glasses now. He was growing old. He ran his fingers through his grey hairs and looked at the lake. The lake looked so young. Just looking at it brought back memories. Memories he shared with her.
She brought two cups of coffee, set it down beside him and went and stood behind him. She wrapped her hands around him and kissed the top of his head. He looked up at her. She looked just as beautiful as he had seen her for the first time at the coffee shop. Light was shining behind her. It gave her an aura and made her look angelic. She looked at him with the same love with which she had looked at him ever since the day they met. He could see it in her eyes.
“Sanjana, have I told you this before?”
“No darling, what is it?”
He looked at her and said, “That I love you.”
She smiled at him, the same smile she had given him the first time he told her that he loved her. She said, “I love you more, Mayank.“
They both looked at the lake. Remembering every loving memory they shared. Their eyes, shining with hope and love, looking towards the horizon.
She opened her eyes slowly. She didn’t want to let go of it, any of it. It had been very beautiful. She felt really happy.
She got out of her bed.
“Good morning, Ruth!” she said to the figure dragging itself out of the next bed.
“Good morning, Sanjana!” Ruth mumbled back.
“Ruth, I had this amazing dream. I want to tell it to you before I forget.”
“I can see it all over your face, darling. But can we talk about it during breakfast? We are already late by half an hour” she said, giving her a wink.
She got ready and told Ruth that she would wait for her at the coffee shop. She couldn’t wait to tell Ruth her amazing dream. She tried to remember all the details clearly.
On the way, her phone rang, bringing her back to the real world from her fantasies. It was Ruth. She was calling to inform her that she wouldn’t be able to make it to the coffee shop on time. This meant she had to wait till evening to tell Ruth her dream.
She went to the coffee shop and ordered for herself. Everything looked calm and peaceful unlike the usual melodrama in her college. She sat there thinking about her dream and wondering what it meant.
She didn’t realize it until he was almost gone. A guy in a white shirt and blue jean had left a piece of paper on the table after giving her a brief smile. She lifted the piece of paper, all sorts of emotions running through her mind. She pinched herself to check if she was dreaming again. She opened it.
It was a letter signed,