The last time she had crossed the coffee shop on the Malviya Nagar road, she’d been with Nikhil. She’d been gloriously happy about his presence at her side, looking around to see if others had noticed them and hoping they had. They’d held hands, Nikhil hesitantly leading her up the stairs to the café, a shaft of coffee-scented air hitting them as they entered. He’d looked around, then headed for the table by the counter, cramped but cosy. She’d shaken her head, and led him towards the window seat, with lots of room and light, and visible to all from the outside.
They sat there an hour, their single coffees offering moments of stretched, wrung-out time. She’d tried holding his gaze, but he’d keep looking out the window – the window she’d chosen to sit by. Then she’d given up and started looking out herself, occasionally tapping her foot to the music on the jukebox, peppy Bollywood tunes. His phone had rung a few times, putting them miles away across the two-foot table. Twice, she’d reached out and cupped his hands on the table. Twice, he’d smiled at her, but pulled away. Eventually, he’d paid and they’d left.
This time when she crossed the coffee shop, she was alone. Floods of memories rushed through her mind, overturning all truths in their path. He’d called it off because he didn’t want to hurt her. He was a depression patient; he didn’t want her to share his burden. It was alright; she was young and nearly pretty; there would be other men. But two broken engagements in a year was too much of a coincidence. She was obviously jinxed.
She hesitated at the entrance of the coffee shop, then walked in. The boy behind the counter asked her order. “One cappuccino,” she responded, and went to sit by the window at the same table as months ago. Her phone didn’t ring. The jukebox was silent. The window looked out at the same street with the same shops. She sat back in her chair and waited. May as well get used to it now, she thought grimly.
Unknown to her, a breeze lingered above her head, carrying with it dreams and destinations, enchantment and excitement. All she had to do was stand up, and it would hit her with its force, and change the course of her life. It would take her to places she’d never gone before and introduce her to fascinating people and experiences. It would morph her, twisting her thoughts until they looked nothing like her, turning her beliefs on their head.
She didn’t know this, of course, at the time she finished her coffee. It had just been 20 minutes since she'd entered, but the caffeine had cleared her head. She dug into her bag for her face mirror, checked her mouth, paid the bill, and resolved never to feel sorry for herself again. Life was full of possibilities. She’d stop whining and consider herself lucky, not jinxed. Then she stood up.
And the rest was exactly as it was meant to be.