He used to sit there at my newly launched “Chai bar” very often….
Clad in kurta and jeans he used to frequent my Tea shop every Sunday..
It had been almost half a year and he hadn’t missed even a single sunday..He generally used to be there alone with his only company being a book and a cup of tea..and used to sit there for a couple of hours..
It had been a dream come true for me launching a tea bar chain of my own..I used to make sure that I was present at this Manor Road joint every Sunday
He was tall,sultry and spectacled…(just my kinda guy)
Somewhere in mid thirties meaning only about a couple of years elder to me..I was happy with life but Ma always had been hinting that my free single independent life needs a “suitable man”….and each time I saw him I thought the same..
The first 4 weeks I remember he’d only order “Assam Special” and consume it copiously..
He used to come to the counter and rattle his order straight away..I suggested him once “why don’t you try something else as well? Oolong is good too”
He gave me a look of surprise that seemed to say “ you seem to be following my orders lady?”
Ahhh..how I wish I could follow them
He readily acceded and said “ok,ill try it..” and flashed his smile..
I understood what “being swept off one’s feet meant”
I always wanted to talk to him..find out what book was he was reading?
Once when he came to order “oolong” at the counter I furthered our conversation by saying “Oh yes Oolong will just go perfectly well with your current read”
Isnt that book about Roald Amundsen’s adventure at the south pole?
He had said “so miss,It seems you do more than just selling tea”
I sprang at that opportunity and boasted him about my B-school stint and entrepreneurship plans..I wanted to know about his pursuit as well..no it wouldn’t matter…if he were just a struggling writer or journo..
We would have married and I would be happy selling tea ever after and just see him stay occupied with his book and my hand made tea….
I was just about to ask him his pursuit when I was accosted by another customer at the counter..
For once I didn’t want to do business..
There were so many pretty girls and women frequenting my “chai bar” but he never ever raised his eyes to even take a glimpse of them…forget ogling …much to my relief.
The only habit I found a bit disconcerting was when he stepped out to smoke..but I would make him quit that too someday..
At times he used to bring a laptop ..I would watch those tough,muscular hands in motion..working fast on the keyboard..I would generally make myself conspicuous and try to grab his attention by being extra polite and courteous to other customers..…Once I had brought my 3 yr old niece along..and I remember how he had offered her a chocolate out of his pocket when he’d come to order “Oolong”
Somehow his reticent and tough yet gentle demeanour never allowed me to open up very freely to him..besides it would be partial and unethical as a shop-owner to give extra attention to one customer…most importantly it would let loose a babble of tongues..
And one day…
It was raining really wildly that day..I stuck to my routine..and by 11 was there at my counter…
The clock struck 11:30 and he wasn’t there…since the weather had turned stormy and rainy a few customers chugged in cars and stopped in for tea but I didn’t receive their orders with alacrity..
I was distracted..and slowly was getting disappointed..
No..how could I stay without seeing him for the rest of the week?
Had he come today I definitely would start my discussions on the book he was reading last week..
Not only had I bought the book but did extra research on it…to impress him… and wore my best black salwar suit for that slim look with perfect matching jewellery…
Despondent I exited from my Manor Road “chai bar”..since It was raining I grabbed the other day’s newspaper to provide that mobile shed and ward off the rain..I sat in my car and left then newspaper on the dashboard.I was about to start the car when I saw the newspaper… That page had a news I never wanted to believe “ Ranchi:August 15,2017 The Jan Lokpal finds Mr. Ajay Kishore guilty of misappropriation funds worth Rs. 10 crores.”Above this news piece was his picture.That was how I came to know him