After a week, we finally met again. But, as always, it was not easy ….. many arrangements had to be done.
I got out of the cab in front of a big fig tree and looked around for the place I was mentioned about on the phone; on my left was the white washed building. I could not quite locate the name of the café from outside so, I went inside the gate. No sooner had I asked the guard standing by the gate than I saw the name popping right in front of me. With a gentle smile, I thanked the man and went inside the café.
I looked around but didn’t see him. The waiters were looking at me ready to help but I didn’t want their help, I wanted to find him on my own (as if I had senses to sniff and locate like a lioness does). Luckily, after taking a right turn, I did see him. He was sitting in a tanned leather couch, big enough to seat three people at a time. Like always, he was in his cool blue jeans. My eyes quickly scanned the rest of the room; all washed in white, windows on north and south of the room with blinding plastic covers. There was a finely polished wooden plank resting next to the window; there laid his printed cap. (It could have been a perfect place to sit a flower pot and couple of books maybe). He nodded for me to enter the room. So did I and sat opposite to him.
“You are late”, he said.
“I know ….. hope I didn’t make you wait too long”, I said taking my bag pack off my shoulder.
He didn’t say anything but smiled watching me cozi-ed up in the couch.
“Drink?” he offered, pushing the glass towards me.
I didn’t take another moment but took the glass from the table and sipped in. Of course it was Caramel Macchiato, his favorite. It was more than enough to beat the heat.
As I sipped the caramel, I lifted my eyes up and looked at him; he was already looking at me. I mustered up a faint smile and looked towards the window. There was a thick plastic blocking the outside view. I was tempted to change my gaze. “Thank you” I said pushing the drink towards him and trying not to look straight into his eyes. I lowered my eyes and saw the newly printed tattoo on his left arm. I quickly looked away as if I hadn’t noticed. I tried not to look at it but somehow I kept looking at it, be it for a nano second maybe.
A beautiful waitress came in with a glass of water and a menu pressed in her arms. She gave us each a menu.
“You must be hungry, what would you like to eat?” I said flipping through the pages.
“I want meat”, he said giving a flirtatious smile. I raised my eyes from the menu, he was all smile. Before, I brought my gaze back to the menu, I happened to see the arm again. (okay, fine I will talk about it…. I need some time.)
“One iced tea for me aaa..nd grilled vegetable sandwich, please..”, I said putting the menu on the table. He took the menu from the table and without turning the pages ordered chicken wrap. He looked at me and handed over the menu to the waitress. I smiled but I was dismayed. For I had thought he was joking about having chicken. He had never ordered non-veg before. Not that I had any problem with it, but it was different than what normally would happen. I was actually happy that he was fine with having non-veg with me; he didn’t have to suppress his appetite for chicken but something had happened.
(Why did he order another food and that also chicken? Did he forget? Is he super hungry or is he trying to prove something? Oh! Common, this is the least thing I wanna be bothered about right now. Please, let’s save this for later). I made sure that this eerie air did not touch him and got vanquished from that room or from my mind, at least for a while.
“Nice tattoo” I blurted.
He brought his hand ahead so that I could have a good look at it. “Is it good?”
“It is indeed. People must have complemented already”.
“Well, not many. But after seeing it, my manager wanted one”, he said smiling as if he had a flash back.
“So?”, my voice inquisitive.
“Well, I asked her where she would like to have it and then she signaled towards her bum”, he said breaking into a laughter. He has a contagious smile, I couldn’t help but smiled along.
Still, not being able to contain his laughter, he said “she can sometimes be really weird. Anyways, you liked the tattoo?”
“Of course, I liked it the moment you texted me the prototype which had one of my favorite quotes.”
“Right, ‘Carpe Diem’. But I could not have it here; you know ….”
I quickly changed that topic asking about the place he had that thing imprinted because I did not want to hear what would come next or maybe I did not want to put him in that awkward position. He followed me and said that he got it in a nearby place. A place located somewhere in between our houses. I was surprised to hear that there was a place like that nearby.
“Is it a good place?”, I asked.
“Apparently. See the result, that guy did great job”.
“Ya. It looks smooth”, I added.
“So, when are you getting yours? Or you bluffed about it?”
A little disappointed, I said “Ya, go on. I am the one who bluffed, right?”
He immediately added, “I was helpless (he had that awkward face that I hate to see on him); well I have the initial of your name printed in the exact location I wanted …”
I interrupted, “so, that’s my consolation prize”.
He had that face again, a smiley poker face. “No”.
“That’s fine. I understand”, I said softly. Trying to change the topic, I added, “and I know what I want for a tattoo”.
Immediately, excited like a child, he inquired about it. I told him that I wanted a phoenix and showed him a picture. He seemed to like it. (I wish I knew what is going on in his head. Did he really like the tattoo? Or he has something else and is not telling me. I wish I knew)
Food was not served yet, and while waiting for the food, we talked about work, tattoo, common friends and so on. He also added that he is looking for the bracelet that he has not been able to find yet.
“I told you already, you won’t find it; they don’t make it here”, I said.
“Well then, I might find something similar”, he added.
“Good luck with that”.
Oh! wait, I forgot to mention about the story of the bracelet. lets save that for next episode.
The beautiful lady barged in with food, we turned around. Immediately, she smiled. Food was served.
“Hand sanitizer?”, he asked rubbing his hands together.
“I left it in the restaurant we last met”, I said, looking from above my brows.
He gave me that I knew it look and headed towards wash room.
He was back in couple of minutes. We ate till we were satiated.
We asked for the cheque. The beautiful girl came in with the cheque. I offered to pay. He denied but finally agreed saying, “am dating a rich girl”.
We collected our bags and left the restaurant. While he headed towards the parking, I moved towards the exit. I was hit by the unbearable sun. I crossed the road with both my palms shading my face, I waited for the taxi. From the brink of my eye, I saw someone waving, I turned around to see him signaling me from across the street. I followed his gaze. He was asking me to stand underneath the shaded area, 15 steps (almost) away from where I was standing. I followed. Only then, he rode away……..