“There is something fundamentally wrong with my personality”, I sighed, looking towards the heart design over the caramel latte.
“I often wonder why does a barista put so much effort to design perfectly the ridges of the heart. Does it come out from their love for the job or an obligation to perform? The heart almost seems to mock you for a split-second until it gets distorted from your first sip, leaving you with a loveless caramel taste in your mouth.”
Amvi giggled seeing me intently dissecting the meaning of life over the latte. She has always been the sunny shore of my overthinking dark ocean. It amazes me how she somehow is able to provide an untangle version of my convoluted messy thoughts. She is not a normal person!
“Neerav bro! take it a little easy There is nothing wrong with you or that coffee! You are just tired and need some sleep. Sleep is able to fix every issue in the world…you know…just like a reset button. You wake up after a good long sleep and then these shitty self-deprecating thoughts would be wiped out…understood?” Amvi sipped her some fancy-bunch of sugary-crap-coffee-milkshake while returning to her novel which she has been carrying around for the last few weeks.
At times, I wonder if she is even listening to me before handing out her motivational pedagogies. We have known each other over the last seven years, starting from the first day of undergrad till the completion of three years of my job. We graduated together in engineering, with me entering the rat race and aspiring to become the perfect cog in the wheel and her taking time off to explore her writing passion. Here, after three years since college and with our friendship still intact as the immovable rock in the river stream, we were celebrating her first published novel and my first promotion, over a cup of coffee.
Between now and then, we both grew up in the throes of what life threw at us. Pushing hard to meet societal expectations while struggling to keep the child within us alive, we were scarred in our own different ways. They say after a period of endless endurance, your soul either gets immortalized through those scars or culminates in them. Well, I wonder if it was her scars that brought authoress out of her while mine ended up sucking all of my humanity in the process of turning me into a machine. So, now while she is able to experience all shades of emotions, broken or complete, I struggle to get at least a taste of it. This is why her creative passionate mind is able to untangle my system-designed mechanical thoughts.
In the end, society fears free thinking and fosters moderated ideas. She was the perfect outlier while I was the trophy mediocrity.
Amvi sat infront of me, intently engrossed in her novel, while skimming through pages and squinting at almost every word. She could feel my unconvinced stare at her reply. Glancing away from the pages and placing her coffee milkshake aside, she held my hands.
“Tell me, Neerav! What is on your mind?…and no more riddles please!“,
This is the Amvi, I mentioned earlier. When you are in her spotlight, everything seems just as simply beautiful.
For a moment, I froze at her response. Her skin was as cold as ice yet held the warmth of home. Her eyes were dark as night yet her smile was as bright as sunshine. She knew how to make you feel like the most important person in the entire world in just an instant by unconditionally offering her entire moment to you.
Her touch unlocked too much history all at once. Those memories which I thought I lost with my inner child, over the last few years, swarmed in front of my eyes. I wasn’t ready to face those.
Not when I hardly felt anything for myself!
I pulled back my hand.
“Do I care too much?” I attempted to hide my reluctance and sudden awkwardness in response to her gesture.
“What do you mean?” she seemed to hardly notice my struggle.
“I…I think I am the most agreeable person on this planet. I have only known how to live within the rules-the DOs have been my acquaintances and the Don’ts my nemesis. The boundaries have been the auto-tune of my life and the system has been my world. I always accept what is told and take pride in the rewards that are bestowed. I allow them to judge me and then whine about the judgments. I acknowledge their opinions while letting mine participate from the sidelines. I strive for their appreciation while continuously being the worst critic of myself. My ambition is to become their memento for them to show the world – the machine that never stopped!
Amvi…I think there is some fundamental flaw in me! “ I kept going as if the dam in me was on the verge of collapse.
The rain patter on the pavement seemed to be in unison with my exploding thoughts. The dusk had already made its way into the night as the moon shimmered through the huge glass entrance of the cafe. This was the same cafe that had been our rendezvous to share every small moment in life from the first love affair to the last break-ups; from failing in exams to scoring an interview; from bunking classes to flaunting in college parties; from making friends to losing them. Amvi always felt the cafe was not just any coffee shop but our safe haven to truly be who we are. She held it special in her heart for every small memory was a lifetime experience for her. She believed that the richness of a character is not how grand you celebrate the success but rather how you stay humble knowing that those will fade away. It was the happiness of celebrating the big moments in simplistic ways with the right people that will stay forever. And just like that, we were here, celebrating the milestones of our lives with the right person at that moment over a cup of coffee.
“Neerav! the choices that define you are the ones that you make in your mind before discarding them for someone else’s suggestion. Start believing in them. They are waiting for you to trust them. In the long run of pleasing everyone, you will lose the one person you were meant to fall in love with!” Amvi was direct in selecting the right words.
“Who?” I asked foolishly
“Haha…YOU…asshole! Thanks for ruining my perfect motivational quote”
She scribbled something in her novel before closing it. She slowly pushed it across the table towards me.
“This is my first published copy. Hopefully not the last one!” she chuckled.
“I want you to have this.” She smiled at me. Those dark eyes stared deep into my soul while handing away a piece of her to me. The most delicate and special part of my life.
I picked up the novel…brushed my fingers over its smooth glossy cover and opened it…
It is so strange that at times you can’t remember what you ate the previous day but can recall exactly what she ordered in the coffee shop five years ago – “Honey Almond Mocha cookie crumble”
I sat in the cafe sipping that fancy-bullshit-favorite-milkshake and opened the novel for the thousandth time only to read the scribbles once again.
“Neerav! hope my words will shine as a beacon to help you find yourself…my invisible knight!”
I never knew that the price of finding myself was her!