Conversations over Coffee

By Nandita Mundle

We sit across the table. Coffee mugs in our hands. Warming our palms with the heat from the mug.  We talk about life. About past lovers and future plans. About love and lust. About money and magic. We sit there lost in the moment. Not noticing people rushing past us to grab coffees and rush back to their work. We talk about mundane stuff whenever our emotions surface too close to the skin. We wonder what it would have been like if we had met in another life, another time. We think back to other mugs of coffee sipped over different tables with different people. And we rush to come back here. Here where conversation is a relationship. And laughter and tears are stolen moments. And as we reluctantly gulp the last drop of coffee, we inquire about each others spouses and kids and return to the real world.

 

 

My flight was delayed. I entered the airport café. I was looking out over the crowd when out of no-where this kid came running and banged in to me and spilt the coffee out of the paper cup he was carrying all over my beige pants. I was about to chastise him when I saw his eyes fill with tears. I looked down at new coffee colored pants, and decided to not to mention the laundry bill right away. I looked around to see a parent but couldn’t see anybody looking out for him.

I sat down on my haunches to come down to his eye level and offered him a tissue as he continued fighting back tears and looked at me warily probably wondering what form of punishment was going to ensue.

“Who are you here with?” I asked him. “My dad”, he said, still fearing the stranger. I was afraid he’d start squealing for the cops any minute, so I decided to find one myself, before I got arrested.

As I was about to get up, the door behind me opened with a rush and hit me and I catapulted forward again upsetting the remaining contents of the coffee cup in the little boys hand and causing my light coffee colored pants to take on a darker hue.

Before I could start swearing, he yelped loudly, “Dad!!” I swung around to target the father of this coffee dispenser on wheels to find myself at uncomfortable close quarters with “dad”. Dad turned out to be a very smartly dressed youngish Dustin Hoffman types.

 

I was about to ask him why he was letting his kid run around loose like that; when having taken in the scene of his son with the empty cup and my coffee pants, he said, “Hi. Would you like another cup of coffee?”

 

 

 We leaned back into the black sofas. Each a book in our hands. We read silently, interrupted only by the silent chuckles that escape him whenever he comes across something funny or ironic. A grande mug of coffee sat on the table in front of me. A latte in front of him. He’d pause every few minutes to take a sip of coffee. I could see him from the corner of my eye. My eyes would leave the book every time he bent forward to pick up the mug and I’d pick up my mug too. Every time we’d lean forward to pick up our mugs, we’d stealthily steal glances at each other. Many a times our eyes would meet and we’d quickly turn away from each other. Every few visits he’d have a different book and so would I. Our chuckles, our faces would tell each other how interesting the book was. The length of time we stayed there began to lengthen. Its like we had entire conversations without saying a word. Then, yesterday, as I rose to leave, he gave me a quick smile. And said, “So, you like books?”

 I smiled at the opening gamut and nodded.

 

“Me too. My wife got me hooked”, he said, as I closed the book.