Chance Encounters

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Chance Encounters

Mokshaa watched as she saw the “oh! So in love!” couple enter the restaurant.

They were young and cute to look at. Hand-in-hand they sat at the nearby table. They excitedly ordered for the dishes, and couldn’t seem to keep their hands off each other.

Mokshaa sighed inwardly, and her past flashed before her eyes.

Abandoned by her husband, Shrikanth, who had fallen for a beautiful firangi two years into their marriage, she was divorced by the age of 22. Thankfully, she enjoyed her job as a nursery teacher and the young, bubbly children around her kept her alive, cheerful and happy. She had been brought up in an orphanage and had fallen in love with the young, charming Social Worker Shrikanth, who visited the orphanage often. Before she knew it, they fell in love, got wedded, and she had left her hometown to start her beautiful journey with Shrikanth. She had used up her life’s savings in building their small cosy home, but her dreams were small. A beautiful family was all that she had desired, and now she had it all.

Everything was going fine, but one day she felt her dreams come crashing down, as Shrikanth blatantly told her that he had fallen in love with Suzan, a Russian Co-worker. He wanted Mokshaa to agree for a divorce at the earliest as they were planning to leave the country. Shattered, but with her self-respect intact, she quietly completed the formalities, and before the blink of an eye her marriage had ended.

Strangely, she was surprised that she hadn’t cried or wept over what had happened, neither did she feel any resentment or indignation against Shrikanth. All she felt was a dull aching pain in her heart and a sort of numbness in her soul.

She knew that Shrikanth had taken her for granted and how he also knew that there was no one she could go to when he announced his intentions of deserting her. Slowly, but steadily she had learnt to move on in life.

All the love she had, she showered it on the tiny little beings in her school who filled her with a sense of happiness and fulfilment.

Her frustration, sadness and pain would take over her during the evenings. She wasn’t a sociable person and was terrible at making friends. She decided that she would keep herself busy.

Thankfully, her passion for books and music kept her sane and alive. The tiny little local library near her workplace was her refuge. The other favourite “adda” of hers was the Zen Cafe which kind of was her other “home”. It was a quiet, serene place, never crowded, where she could sit for hours. She would sit there every evening with a book, a cup of hot, steaming coffee, her favourite snacks and the hours would pass by with her immersed in her world of fantasies, mysteries, stories, autobiographies and fairy tales.

The loud, giggling from the table adjacent to hers, snapped her back to the present. Even if she didn’t want to overhear the conversation of the lovey-dovey couple, next to her, it was hard to ignore them. Mokshaa smiled as she realised that this was one of those “Instant Instagram Love Dates. Not Bad. Online hunting for love does work after all” she thought to herself as she smiled and saw the girl giggling again as the boy wickedly whispered something to her.

The Bill arrived. As the girl expectantly looked up to the boy to pay the waiter, she saw him abruptly pull out his phone and walk off into a corner of the restaurant.

The girl looked confused and totally heartbroken. The board outside the restaurant had clearly mentioned that payments had to be made in cash only.

As she was rummaging through her purse to collect all the cash she had, Mokshaa could see that she was on the verge of crying. As it was probably her first date with this boy, Mokshaa knew she couldn’t ask the boy to pay up.

She looked like she didn’t have that kind of money.

As Mokshaa got up to help out the girl (as the boy continued to ” pretend” like he was immersed in the most important “phone call” of his life), she noticed a tall guy with glasses get up from his table, walk over to the girl and politely asked her to hand over the Bill to him. He paid the Bill, handed the girl his phone number and smiled and said, “You can Google Pay the money anytime”.

The girl meekly thanked him and walked out of the door in a hurry. Suddenly, the “do or die” call ended, and the boy rushed out of the door as well.

Mokshaa smiled to herself as the drama ended and noticed that the somewhat intriguing Stranger was still there, quietly and intensely reading a book. She had been so engrossed with the young couple and their banter, that she hadn’t noticed the arrival of the good-looking, seemingly mature man.

She noticed that the book he was reading was the same book that she had been engrossed with too – The Secret.

She realised that it was quite late in the evening and left the restaurant. As she stepped outside, she tried really hard to suppress her laughter, as she noticed the “oh so in love couple” arguing at the top of their voices on the street.

“Excuse me.” She heard the husky voice calling out to her.” I think you forgot to pick up your book from the table.” It was her “Secret” reading Stranger. Mokshaa blushed and mumbled a “thank you”.

Before she could walk away, he said, ” If you don’t mind my asking you? Maybe, We could discuss the books we read over a cup of coffee tomorrow at Zen. I’ve just moved into this Ocean- of- a- City just yesterday. I’ll start teaching French to College goers a few days from now. I do need a friend right now, and I think I’ve found one. Who loves reading books, drinking coffee and observes people just like me”.

I smiled, handed him my number and promised to meet him at the cafe the next day.

“Hmmm, maybe The Book on The Law of Attraction does work for sure,” I thought to myself. In the distance, I saw the temporary Online Romance go Offline and realised that I had to be careful about two things :

1. To remember that all that glittered was not gold.
2. To always, always carry Hard Cash wherever I went.

Rachitha Poornima Cabral
Assistant Professor
Department of English
School of Social Work, Roshni Nilaya

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  1. Nice story, well narrated Rachita. ‘Zen Cafe’ provides a state of attentiveness of mind where actions are guided through intuition. But love simply happens, anything else would become conditional. Carry cash but not too much.

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