A coffee date with a stranger.
Updated: Sep 5, 2020
Arti took one last look at herself in the mirror as she added a tinge of kohl to her beautiful dark brown eyes. She untied her hair and her big natural curls fell on her shoulders. She looked at the clock and realized she was already running late. She wore a long-sleeve black cardigan over a red sleeveless sweater and matched it with grey trousers and black block heels. Her whole attire made her feel poised. Arti rarely wore heels but today was an exception as she was meeting a stranger. The so-called stranger and Arti had never met. Although they both have been chitchatting over the phone over the last couple of months.
It all started a few months ago when Arti got a phone call on her 20th birthday from a guy named Nimish. It was the second time they spoke to one another over the phone. The first time it just happened by luck! They both had a common friend, Jerry who was Arti’s school friend. Nimish and Jerry studied together in the same college. After the first hi- hello incident over the phone, Nimish was determined to speak to Arti as he had this gut feeling that there was something about her.
Nimish pestered Jerry and drove him up the wall. He wanted to see a picture of Arti. Jerry had all his old pictures kept in a suitcase stacked on the almirah in his hostel room. Nimish somehow reached the top of the almirah and dug out the old pictures. After a long search, he finally got hands-on her picture. The picture was clicked a couple of years ago of her during her school days. She was wearing a green salwar kameez. Arti looked adorable with her long curly hair that reached below her shoulders. She had a sweet innocent smile.
Nimish took one look at her and his heart skipped a beat. “Jerry Bhai, I need her number.” he insisted.
After a lot of persuasions, Jerry finally gave in and shared her number.
Nimish gathered his courage and gave Arti a call on her birthday. It was a very formal chat but it seemed like Arti was patiently waiting for him to call. Little did she know that it was the beginning of a new chapter for them?
Months went by, they both used to chat over the phone. Arti had never seen him; she was only familiar with his voice. Too familiar one can say as she started to recognize his mood by the tone of his voice.
As time passed, Jerry decided to set up a meeting with both of them. It was fixed. The date, the time, and the venue. That night Arti could hardly get any shut-eye. She was extremely excited that she was finally going to meet Nimish. She had mixed feelings of knowing him; at the same time she wasn’t too sure if she really did know him. Tomorrow I’ll finally get to know him,’ with these thoughts wandering in her mind and she eventually dozed off.
The next day Arti went through almost her entire wardrobe trying to figure out what to wear. She didn’t want to overdo it, as she didn’t want to give him a false impression. She just wanted to be Arti.
Once she was dressed her mother walked in and saw her looking pretty as ever. She smiled and said, “Have fun with your friends. Don’t be too late.”
“Yes, Ma! Don’t worry! I’ll be back soon.” she said reassuringly. She took one last look at herself in the mirror, fixed the smudged kajal around her eye, kissed her Ma good-bye, and left. Arti couldn’t possibly tell her mother that she was on her way to meet a stranger.
Arti was nervous and yet excited. She could feel her heart racing as she was on her way to CCD. Halfway through Arti got a call from Jerry saying that he wasn’t coming. Her heart sank. ‘What do I do now,’ she thought to herself. A few minutes later, Nimish called to confirm if she was still coming since Jerry ditched them. Neither of them knew if it was done intentionally.
“Yes!” she said. “I’m already on my way, let’s stick to the plan,” she continued and hung up.
Arti was very certain about some things in life. A yes is always a yes! Although she started getting jitters she reached CCD and made herself comfortable at a table by the window. She looked around and saw so many different types of people. School friends, married couples, parents, and kids, friends. The place was full of cheers and laughter. Arti sat there quietly scanning each man who entered CCD wondering if he was the one.
Arti noticed a tall man wearing a purple jacket and green track pants. He entered CCD looking rather confused. She could clearly make out from the body language and facial expression that he was looking for someone. Poor Arti froze. Her pace of excitement crashed. ‘Please don’t be him,’ she said to herself and buried her head in her phone. She started to check her phone as the purple jacket dude made a call from his phone. Arti covered her face and was almost under the table.
Suddenly she felt someone touch her hair from behind. Her heart sank. Arti cautiously looked up and saw a man standing next to the table wearing an orange pullover and a brown muffler. He looked at her with his innocent eyes and smiled. They both shyly said ‘Hi!’ as he took a seat opposite her. Arti looked in his eyes for a moment and thought to herself, ‘He is exactly what I had wished to see,’ they both were lost in each other’s eyes. All the conversations they had over the last couple of months seem so long ago. It was happening. They both could feel the fire igniting.
It was like when one watches Bollywood movies, the hero sees the heroine and falls in love and there is music playing in the background and boom there is love in the air. One can say it was the same for Arti and Nimish but of course, it was not so dramatic.
They both spent the evening together, chatted over a cup of cappuccino. It was the longest coffee date one could possibly have.
After 5 long years, Nimish gathered the courage and got down on one knee and asked her hand in marriage. The movie, ‘Namastey London’ played a huge impact on Nimish. It motivated him and gave him the courage to finally have her to himself forever. Arti obviously said yes! After that, there was no looking back.
Today, Arti and Nimish have been happily married for the past 8 years. They have been blessed with two beautiful kids, a boy, and a girl. As every marriage has its ups and downs but these two stuck by each other. They used to write letters and long emails to each other. There were times when they had to live apart in different cities. But they powered through it all. Arti would long to see him even if he dropped by at 4 am or 8 pm. She just had to get lost in his eyes once again.
Nimish and Arti would do the cutest things for each other. There was a one-time he bought kajal for her and wrote her a note that said, “I love your kohl eyes,” He had made her a collage of their pictures together. It was very usual for him but it made her feel very special.
Arti made a huge effort on his 30th birthday, even though she was five months pregnant, she ran around the city buying him 30 different presents. Love can be expressed in so many different ways.
But at times one can wonder what if she didn't agree to go on the coffee date with the so-called stranger. How would they have met?
Well, they were soul mates destined to meet!