Sunday, December 6, 2009

Opposites

Ann did her hair in a hurry. Her next order had been given but she hadn't yet attended to it. She took one last glance in her little hand-held mirror to pride on her locks before she stepped out to greet the customers and take their orders. It was one o' clock on a Monday afternoon and there were not many customers in the homely little restaurant located near the markets of the sleepy little town. She saw the tall man sitting at the table smack in the middle of the restaurant and went over to him to take his order. She extracted her little Spiro-pad and waited patiently for the stranger; she could tell he was a stranger in these parts from his yuppy attire and piercing glance. Friendly folk don't stare at one another, she thought to herself as she clicked her pen to take his order of a black coffee. He gave her a weak smile and thanked her.
'Thank you...uh..'
'Ann' she volunteered. 'I'll be back in a jiff with your coffee.'
Black coffee seemed to suit him, she thought as she clipped the slip of paper from the pad to the ordering window. Strong, dark and bitter, yet something left to be desired. She was tired of the life she lead here in this nameless town in the South. She was sick of the mundane; the banality of day to day life bored and exasperated her to no end. She dreamed of stretching out in the sun in Rio, climbing the hills of Scotland and visiting the mystical lands of the east of Asia. She was shaken out of her reverie by Meg clanking the cup and saucer on the counter. Ann put on her smile, like she put on her make-up and went over to the man and placed it gently on the table and without another glance glided away to the kitchen.

Mark Gordon looked at the steaming cup of black coffee in front of him and his composure wavered for a moment. His wife had passed on and it was her request that she be laid to her eternal rest in the town she was brought up in. The Suit as Mark was called,was head of a small business firm in uptown Los Angeles and his stiff demeanor frightened his rivals, kept his rowdy subordinates quivering in their shoes and piqued the ladies' interest. His life was nothing but a series of hurried motions: a cup of coffee quickly gulped down, reports signed hastily and juggling calls from his clients. To say his life was turbulent was an understatement at best. He awoke a few weeks back in his hotel room thinking it was early morning in Tokyo while it was really midnight in New York. The deals and the numbers took him places- the world was a flurry of movements that had absconded him long ago and no amount of measures taken on his behalf would help him. He wanted to get off this bus, but the conductor was not interested in stopping.

He looked around the little restaurant. An elderly couple were sitting at the table beside him, talking in hushed tones. A truck driver reading a newspaper at the end of the row, waiting to get back onto the highway. Nobody knew who The Suit was. Nobody cared. For all they knew and cared he was some tourist from a swanky city looking for rednecks and cowboys to take pictures of to show his wealthy friends back home. He reached into his pocket to extract his Blackberry. Barely a few bars. He was completely cut off from his work and his responsibilities. Yet the world moved on as ever without him. People drank their coffee, walked their dogs and read their newspapers. He was at the center of his private universe observing his surroundings.

Stasis.
What he always wanted and couldn't get. Finally he had a moment of peace in his chaotic life. He smiled to himself and for the first time in a long long time, took in the fresh aroma of the black coffee and sipped it slowly. He counted out the change and left a little something extra for Ann. He walked out of the restaurant, his heart feeling ever so light.

Ann came by to collect the empty cup. How much longer would she have to keep doing this before her life got exciting? She picked up the dollar fifty cents and found a note. "Ann. Thanks for helping me find what I lost". She turned over the note to find a cheque and she gasped at the amount it was made out for. She rushed back to the counter and hung up her apron. Meg, curious as ever, asked her where she was headed off to.

'Away from here', smiled back Ann.

1 comment:

prateekmathur said...

hey another really good post...only thing..u could have kept the set up Indian instead of LA..i mean a rich Mumbai guy in a sleepy town of M.P..and the girl wanna go to , say Dubai. Why I say this because, the way u described the nameless town,would have become a great description of a small Indian town. The reader would have felt a little more attached to the scenario.
Just a thought...hope u like it :)