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19 May 2010

Winter Date

Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 4:01am

The dawn was promising, and the day at Cafe Delight began early. Sid, an amateur poet all through his life, now weary and old, stepped in and settled at a corner for a quick cup of tea. He was eager, unstoppable and uncontainably happy. It was so obvious and infectious that everyone looked at him and smiled almost as if lured to. Being a recluse, attention always made him uncomfortable. But he wouldn't mind all the attention that is being showered on him now. It is his day. It was as if he postponed living so that he could live it all on this day. 

Sid had been a regular visitor to the cafe for the past fifteen years. He would walk in quietly, find a corner, have tea, pen a few lines on the tissue, and walk out as quietly. He would talk only rarely, and in brief, at that. He was queer but affable. Stacey greeted him. Over the years, she became a good friend. She knew his regular choice and she was sure he would not try anything different now. Sid smiled and meant, "Ya, the same stuff". "You look so happy today?" Stacey was curious. Sid looked at her with a beaming smile, took a deep breath, and said, "she's coming today! Twenty years ago, she promised she will come this day. And here it is!" Stacey was quite happy for him. "Aha! Now I know!" she giggled. "I will get you a chocolate cake too", Stacey rushed to the counter.

"No no. You know I am off cakes".

"Shut up! It's for her. From me". Stacey looked back firmly at him. Sid smiled.

"I had been living just for this day", Sid reminded himself, almost holding back a tear.

Arvind was arranging roses on the tables.

It was tough to tell whether it was the occasional, chance chats with the young or his ramblings on the mangled tissues, but Sid became known among a few as an oldie with a thing for poetry. "Poetry is not to be read. It is to be felt", he tells the young when they ask him the trick. "Feel. Live. Poetry will come by itself. You will be impelled to write. There's no trick". A useless advice, but he is only an amateur poet anyways. 

As he looked around, he saw her everywhere. He could see none but her. That same face, but only more beautiful. A few gray strands of hair, those stunningly beautiful eyes and that loving smile. He felt she was coming in hundreds, to shower all the love that he had awaited all these years for. A few lines occurred.

for thee, my queen
and for this day
i have lived

hasten thy walk
come, o, delay not
a moment more

this longing heart
and weary soul
cannot wait

He felt more restless with every minute. He wanted to run and hold her in his arms to never let go again. But it's still a few hours away. He must wait.

Stacey left the tray on his table and went to get the cake.

Roses looked forlorn. They knew their fate. To serve as mere adornment through the day and at evening dumped and thrown away in garbage. Sometimes, their petals are torn by ruthless hands or they get trampled under unkind feet. "Nobody ever looks at us", the roses seemed to grieve.

Sid caressed the rose placed on his table. "No. I looked at you. Every day. For the past fifteen years. And this day I will not let you get wasted for the beastly circus of trade. I shall take you along with me, to be the messengers of my love, to be blessed by the loving touch of my beloved. You shall live for your rightful purpose", Sid spoke in a whispering tone. The roses glowed in joy and swelled with pride.

As he sipped tea, he again wrote a few lines on the tissue. Stacey noticed it, as she does every day. She brought the cake. Sid quickly crumpled the tissue and put it beside the flask in the tray. Stacey was all curious to know Sid's story, but he was, as ever, brief. She knew she cannot elicit any details from him even if she grilled him for ten years, so she took just what he had told.

When Arvind brought the check, he said to Stacey, "Here. A thousand bucks more. Pack for me all the roses in the cafe". Sid hardly ever asked anything, so Stacey couldn't turn him down when he did this one time. Besides, he was so happy that she just couldn't do anything to spoil it. She knew why he asked for roses. So she didn't ask him any questions. She smiled and told Arvind to have all the roses packed in the best of gift-wraps.

As Arvind cleared the table, Stacey swiftly and furtively grabbed the tissue and slipped it into her pocket.

Stacey dislikes it when Sid sounds formal, so he didn't thank her. He thanked Arvind, though. As Sid prepared to leave, Stacey hugged and extended her best wishes. "This got to be your best date, Sid", she said. Sid, at his happiest best, wished her as well and walked toward the door. Stacey, at her curious best, almost ran toward him and asked, "what if she doesn't come?"

Sid turned around, smiled, and said, "she will". His eyes didn't reflect even a trace of doubt. Stacey was quite happy for him. After a pause, Sid said, "to answer your question, though... these roses would then make for a beautiful wreath on my grave". And he said it as firmly.

Stacey made a dismissive gesture. "Shut up! Now, go. Run, boy!" She smiled.

Sid smiled, waved at her and walked out.

After he turned the lane, Stacey unfolded the crumpled tissue eagerly. She found a quote: "I'm not frightened. I'm not frightened of anything. Why should I be? I welcome obstacles, because they'll be like mountains I can fly over to be in your arms. The more I suffer, the more I'll love..."

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