Read time : 5 mins

January 1995

It was a Saturday, he walked out of his apartment. The cold January breeze hit his face, ruffling his hair. He stood for a moment to take in the fresh air of the evening. Walking down the sloped spiral road, his mind was also in a spiral of thoughts. He hated having dinner alone and the worse was that he wasn’t even hungry. The chilly winds were blowing across his face, making his nose, ears, and fingers numb. Few meters down the road he saw a small house with smoke coming out of the chimney. This place wasn’t there yesterday, he thought. Wondering from where had this place come up, he walked in its direction. A few steps in the same direction, he was taken aback by the aroma of rich coffee beans. The beans were from Africa or Brazil, his mind couldn’t register as another whiff of the rich aroma swept in. His interest in the place increased and so did his walking pace in the direction of the house. He was standing at the entrance, admiring the place. The small cottage was a pile of rubble up to a few weeks back. They must have renovated this thing, he thought, I wouldn’t have paid attention.

“Come in boy”, the old woman with a very adorable smile was standing at the door, “Want to have some good coffee?”
“Y..Y…Yes mam, coffee would do”, he stuttered coming out of his trance. He noticed the name of the shop as he entered the shop. "Coffee of Love"

..Today is gonna be the day…

The house looked small from the outside, but it was very big inside. Magical, he thought. The interiors were made of wood, but they weren’t actually wood as there was a fireplace on one side. He sat by the fireplace facing the door. The old woman came up to him smiling adorably,

“What will you have dear?”
“A hot chocolate without cream and…”
“I would rather you have the cappuccino… It’s a special here, Aunt makes her own coffee syrup from original coffee beans of Africa..”

He had not noticed her enter, he wished he had. He had lost her at special, he didn’t hear the rest and his vision was stuck on her. The dimension of time had elongated, he saw her removing her scarf and placing it on the chair in front of him, she removed her hooded jacket and placed it on the hook near the fireplace, and he saw the curls of her hair bouncing as the jacket parted ways with her body. Her lips, moving, saying something which he could not register. Her eyes, round, shapely, and sparkling. And as if all this had just happened between two heartbeats, he felt his own heartbeat.

.. I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now…

“.. If you don’t like a cappuccino then it’s fine… Carry on with your order”, she finished, as he came out of his trance.
“Um.. a.. no.. no.. I’ll have what you said”, he said regaining his composure. She sat on his table, “Aunt, two of your lovely cappuccinos and the tasty corn sandwiches.”, and smiled. He felt another one of his heartbeat, it made him alive.

.. There are many things that I would like to say to you but I dunno how…

“Either you are dumb or love-struck”, she turned to him, her smile had changed to an inquisitive look.
“Wha.. what? N.. No..”
“Hahaha..”, her quizzical look changed into a laugh, “I’m just kidding, look at you, you have become red like Aunt’s plums.. hahaha”
Her laugh was contagious and he eased into laughing mildly.
“I’m Shivika, and she is my Aunt.”
“I.. I’m Dev, umm… Nice place this..”
“Yeah, thanks to my Uncle’s life’s savings, my Aunt and my cousin, all of us run Coffee of Love. People say that whoever has my Aunt’s cappuccino falls in love soon.”, she winked at him and laughed.
“Is it? Then I should surely have it. It’s weird, I should’ve been at the movies tonight with my friends and their girls, but somehow I didn’t feel like going.”
The old lady served them coffee and gave them a very adorable smile, and they both took a sip.
“Well, if you had gone there, you wouldn’t have met me”, she winked and laughed again.
“Hahaha, true that..”
“Anyway, I prefer having coffee than getting drunk”, they both said together and laughed.

She saw him laughing, his pearly white teeth, the dimple on his chin when he laughed, and his kind eyes engulfed in round spectacles. A warm feeling started spreading through her body. Her face glowed with warmth. Was it the coffee? Was it him?

…Maybe… You’re gonna be the one that saves me…

Twenty-Five years later

“Do you remember the first time we had Aunt’s special cappuccino?”, Dev asked Shivika sitting on the table next to the fireplace.
“The one which people said that whoever had it, fell in love soon?”
“Yes, the coffee of love. We had it right here in this cafe. You were sitting right here, on this table.”, Dev pointed at the seat across him.

“You were supposed to be at the movies…”, Shivika teased him as she sat down on the very same seat.

Dev walked up to her and hugged her from behind, “I’m so glad I didn’t go…”

.. You’re my Wonderwall…

This short story was written many years ago but I decided to share it with you’ll today, because this week, the song Wonderwall celebrated its 25th anniversary and also crossed a record of 1 Billion streams on Spotify.

It is one of my favorites!

Check out the song here on YouTube or Spotify.

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See you next week with another short story. 👋

- Darshan Pania