If we were having coffee… I would exclaim at your changed appearance. I would notice that now you wear your hair longer and your dresses shorter. Your pudgy hands would be clammy still and you would rock back and forth in your chair in intense concentration, losing yourself in the conversation we should have had so many times in these years but somehow never got around to having.
I would smile secretly at your tinkling laughter, reminding me of the little temple bells that ring every evening all over ‘your’ town. It is a town that you refused to acknowledge, drowning in the imagined shame of being a small town girl. Yet it has been something that defined you even in your refusal and casting away of your essential identity.
If we were having coffee… I would listen to your stories in your low throaty voice that I have always adored. I would not want to interrupt you while filling your coffee cup unobstrusively, taking care of the milk and the sugar. I would know exactly how you like your coffee for we have shared a cup many times before.
I would remind you of the cold mornings when we huddled together, bleary eyed over our lukewarm coffee, trying to clear our minds and gear up for the recommended reading for the week.
You would wonder however how my coffee was now much stronger than I used to like .
If we were having coffee… You would tell me all about your family. You would tell me of the holi celebrations back at your brother’s place where you go wild playing with colour. You would tell me of your midnight snacks of bread and crunchy bhujia as you watched mindless tv.
I would remind you of the impromptu parties we would have back when we were living in that ship shaped building, our rooms separated by a narrow corridor that was the scene of so many whispered conversations.
If we were having coffee… I would tell you how little I have been shopping for myself these days. You would not be very surprised for I have always struggled with it. You would remind me of the all black outfit that I bought for the party. We would talk of the time we went traipising though the narrow by lanes of the old city to the impossibly compact clothed shop, hunting for something that was eye catching. You would laugh at the way I was always wearing black and ask me why I had started leaning towards pastels in my wardrobe.
If we were having coffee… I would ask you hesitantly if you wanted something to eat. I would listen to you carefully just to gauge if it were the right time to unburden myself.
I would apologize to you for not replying to your letter to me that you had sent right after I moved away. I would tell you of the blue inland letter envelope that I still had tucked in the pages of my book. I would tell you that I do not read that book now, do not flip through its pages incessantly and absentmindedly. I do not turn to it for comfort. Yet, I would tell you that the book is part of the memory of a great phase of my life.
I would tell you, in little words and through contrite pauses, of the anger I had held onto for so long. I would hint at the perceived wrongs and my furious response . I would tell you that how I had never intended to reply to the letter. I would also tell you that with time our perceptions change and some introspection is all that is needed to bring purity back to our hearts.
You would wonder at how long I had held on to the hurt. You would then hold my hand and murmur that it does not matter really, in the long run.
If we were having coffee… You would smile kindly at me and take out the brightly coloured hand made paper folder from your bag and hand it to me. I would gf out my hand happily for this would match the papier mache boxes you had bought for me many years ago.
You would be delighted when I tell you that they have graced my cabinet for all these years reminding me of her and the future that was yet to be.
If we were having coffee… We would promise to meet up once in a while for coffee, a lot more frequently.