It is eight in the morning and the coffee shop has just opened. The coffee shop will be thronged with executives from the nearby software company within a few hours. Very few people visit this coffee shop so early in the morning to have a coffee peacefully. Ved is one of these few today. He is the first one to visit the coffee shop. More so, he does not miss visiting the coffee shop when it is cloudy and it is raining. He enjoys drinking coffee when it is raining outside.
Ved walks into the coffee shop and places an order. “I’d like to have a cappuccino. Can you get it over to my table?” He walks over to his table and reads newspaper while waiting for his coffee.
A young woman enters coffee shop. Ved turns his newspaper to catch a glance of the woman. He realizes the woman by her face. He looks again at the woman to ensure that it is the same woman.
Divya, the young woman, notices that Ved has been staring at her while she is entering the coffee shop. Being an idealistic woman, she hated the idea of being looked at by desperate men. So, she immediately included Ved into this group of desperate and gave him a scornful look.
The waiter at the counter is busy on a phone call. The waiter suddenly speaks loud on the phone, “It is eight and the sandwiches have not yet been delivered and you give the same reason everyday that the van is delayed. Now, you blame the rain for the delay. You can’t do this every day.”
To Ved, it appeared as if Divya’s angry looks were complemented by the words of the waiter on the phone.
She walks to the coffee counter and waits until the angry phone conversation is over. She looks around to check if Ved is still looking at her. She gets angrier as she realizes that Ved is looking at her and places her order in her own gibberish style. “Give me a cappuccino with less sugar. No. No. No. Wait. Get me a hot chocolate instead of cappuccino and I’d like some brownies along with it.” The waiter nonchalantly noted down her order.
She walks to her table feigning ignorance to Ved. She gets her hot chocolate before Ved. As she tries to sip it, she realizes that there is no sugar in it.
She shouts at the waiter, “There is no sugar in this beverage. Do you serve your customers tasteless beverages like this?”
The waiter responds, “Ma’am, it was you who asked for hot chocolate without sugar.”
Divya retorts, “I asked for the cappuccino without sugar and later cancelled it. You must listen properly.”
The waiter gave her a stern look and walks out without responding.
Divya gets irritated and starts walking out of the coffee shop. Ved notices that she forgot her wallet at the table.
Ved calls for her, “Excuse me. Ma’am. Hello.”
She turns around and starts angrily at Ved, “What’s your problem, now? I have the right to walk off. Oh! Now you want to talk to me with some pretext.”
Ved interrupts, “No, I just wanted to tell you…”
Divya continues, “that you saw me somewhere or that you know me. I know your kind of guys who are hell bent on teasing girls and flirting with them.”
Ved starts again, “Yes, I know you. No. But, I did not call you about that.”
Divya interrupts again, “There you are. I got you so right. You people are so desperate.”
Ved realizes that it is enough and shouts, “Forget it, lady. I just called you to tell you that you forgot your wallet on your table. Mind your words the next time and learn to respect people.”
Without looking back at her, Ved walks back to his table with contempt. He begins sipping his cappuccino.
Divya realizes her mistake and is at loss of words for a minute. She blurts out a ‘Sorry’ that is hardly audible to anyone else.
She feels sorry for Ved and looks around to notice that he is back into his task of reading the newspaper. Meanwhile, it starts pouring heavily outside. So, she decides to talk to Ved and apologize to him. She sits near to Ved’s table and says a feeble ‘Hi, I’m Divya’ to him with an apologetic look on her face.
Ved puts down the newspaper and sports a forced smile.
Divya starts, “I’m so sorry I should have listened to you before blasting out at you.”
Ved replies with a real smile of achievement, “Ved. It’s alright. It happens with all of us when we are not in the best of our spirits.”
Divya understands that Ved is a nice person and begins her round of introduction. They start knowing about each other and realize that they work for the same company. Divya begins developing a sense of interest towards Ved because of his straight forward approach to things.
Their conversation extends for about thirty minutes until Divya gets a call on her mobile phone.
Divya answers the phone call, “Hey Smitha, How are you?”
She continues after a pause, “Yes. That fellow wants to meet me this evening and I’m not so sure about meeting that fellow. You remember what happened with the other guy, Rahul, the last time. He met me secretly to tell that he is already in love with some girl and did not have the guts to tell his parents. To help him, I lied to my parents that I did not like that guy and was looked at like a terrorist at home for that. I can’t go through that whole thing again.”
The other voice on the phone goes for a few seconds until Divya speaks again, “I know. But, the entire setup seems to be the same. I can’t but be paranoid about these secret meetings. These guys are all cowards.”
Ved listens to the call while having his cappuccino. The call ends after a few minutes.
Ved says, “If you mind me asking, isn’t it bad to generalize that all guys are cowards?”
Divya answers, “I’m sorry. I was talking about these prospective bridegrooms. They don’t have the guts to talk to their parents and get their permission. They always prefer to meet the girl without the knowledge of either of the parents’. It happened once earlier and today one more guy wants to meet me here in the same coffee shop.”
Ved responds, “Oh. It’s alright. But, don’t you think you are inferring about your today’s guy based on just one previous experience. And, it actually is building up stress in your mind making you hate all the prospective guys in the world.”
Divya remains silent even though she is not ready to agree to what Ved says.
Ved continues, “Well, you seem to be doing good in your job and you must be really confident to train people on soft skills. In fact, you are also very empathetic in the way in which you came back and said sorry. May be, it is just the fear of the future that is making you so paranoid.”
Divya now begins appreciating Ved’s approach and started accepting his logic. She says, “Hmmm. Now that you brought up the point of fears, I have to agree that I’m frightened. I hate the concept of marriage in our country where the man decides the career of the woman. I’m very ambitious and want to continue my career and reach heights. At the same time, I want to have the freedom to take a career break whenever I want. But, I will have nothing in my control after marriage. Everything depends on the man and his family. I hate these guys who think they are Gods.”
Ved listens patiently and answers, “Well, your fears are reasonable. I can guess this by the way things happen here after marriage. However, you cannot again generalize. For example, when my parents asked me if I wanted a housewife or a working woman as my wife, I told them that I want a woman who can take her decisions.”
Divya rolls her eyes as she is not able to believe Ved’s words.
Ved continues, “I’m looking for a woman to be my wife and not for a subordinate to know the qualifications. Come on, man. The relationship should be on the basis of freedom and respect. Compulsions and restrictions do not make a marriage. I believe that such marriages don’t last long.”
Divya is taken back by Ved’s ideals and appreciates him, “Wish all the guys begin thinking like you. I’m glad I met someone like you. I’m sorry again for my outburst earlier. It has just been piling up.”
Ved says, “All you have to do is…”
Divya listens with anticipation while Ved pauses.
Ved continues, “Walk at least 30 miles every morning and eat 40 sandwiches before ten in the morning.”
Though, she is not able to comprehend his sense of humor, she laughs out at his humor and understands that he wanted her to take things easy in life.
It stops raining outside and they both walk out their ways. Ved walks out with a smile because he liked Divya. Neither Divya understands the reason behind his smile, nor was she able to get him out of her mind.
Later in the evening, she gets a call from the bridegroom Krishnan saying that he wants to cancel the planned secret meeting. She is surprised at the turn of events. She still hopes that this marriage gets cancelled and she gets to know Ved better.
The next day, Krishnan’s family visits Divya’s house.
As Divya enters the hall to meet Krishnan and his family, she is surprised to see Ved being introduced.
Divya and Ved are summoned to a separate room so that they can talk to each other.
He introduces himself, “Hi. I’m Ved Krishnan.”
She interrupts, “But you work for…”
Ved answers, “I lied. I came there for a business meeting yesterday.”
Divya confusedly asks, “So, do you have a love story, too?”
Ved answers, “No. There’s nothing like that. I thought that the girl would not be able to speak freely when I meet her in her house. So, I thought I want to talk openly with her before that. Luckily, it happened even before I planned. The best part is that you did not see my photo before this meeting and I saw yours.”
They exchange smiles and many more words.