A flash of agitation passed through the baby's face, head leaned back and jerked so violently that its entire body shuddered. No one was disturbed, no one took notice of the sneezing baby, except for one man who sat right across the noisy room who was brought back to reality by the jerking motion that seemed to be demanding attention. As if to mirror that baby, the man jerked as well, a little nonplussed, before he remembered where he was.
Moments later, he was staring at the simmering cup of coffee in front of him. Hot beverages were always too hard for him to drink, but he enjoyed the time that it gave him; the time to savor the finer details. But he wasn't there for the coffee itself. "After all,", he thought, "rarely do people come to coffee houses for the coffee". He was there to catch up with a friend he hadn't met in a long time. "A 'girl' friend", he reminded himself. The very next instant, however, he entered a battle with himself, arguing why that shouldn't have been the thought. There are several things he hated about himself; this was one of them.
Trying to divert his attention from the argument, he let his eyes sweep the coffee house hoping that something else would catch his attention. The place was significantly more crowded and louder than the last time he had visited. No table was vacant and people seemed to be quite involved in discourse. Finding nothing interesting, he looked down at his table. "How many people did I just see?", he asked himself, surprised at how little attention he paid to the details. Disappointed with himself, he took a more deliberate look this time. "Five tables, three men, three ladies, two children and one toddler", he counted, adamant on observing the world around him. "But those numbers serve no purpose". Now, for the third time, he looked around the room halting at every table for just a while and wondering if he could imagine the story behind the occupants. "Two guys with white collar jobs, on a break", he thought while his eyes swept over two men with loosened ties over an, otherwise, formal attire. "Love-birds", he concluded when his eyes stopped over the table hosting a man and woman, both in their youth. He stopped, not to observe them, but because of his judgmental thought. He had not even considered the possibility of them being mere friends or even relatives, but had simply assumed that they were lovers. "And then you expect people to be more liberal, when it's you who is meeting a woman in a coffee shop", said a voice in his head. The voice was right, he was a hypocrite. "The voice is always right", he told himself.
Attempting to escape the guilt, he looked at his watch. "2:30. Just 15 more minutes to be by myself". He had arrived way before the decided time of the meeting to find some time for himself. But he had felt distracted today, completely incapable of following any chain of thought. His fingers circled around the rim of the cup in front of him, moved around the surface to gauge if it was safe enough to drink and then tightened around the handle. While he sipped, he noticed that it was raining outside. Until then, he hadn't heard the sound of the rain crashing outside, but now that he did, he felt at peace. "Coffee tastes better with the rain outside", he thought to himself, smiling, letting go off all the discomfort inside.
'While he sat at the coffee table, enjoying the warmth of the coffee in front of him, protected from the rain outside, she, only a few minutes away from the shop, drenched from the rain, shivered as she took shelter under a tree.'
Amused with the outcome, he thought, "It's of no use if I can't build this into something interesting. Maybe I should just give up and accept that I am no writer. I am merely a ....". He stopped abruptly. Who was he? If he were to die that day and the newspapers had a reason to write about it, they would have probably said, "An IITian Software Developer died ...". They wouldn't be wrong, but that was not who he was. But, who was he? "Finally, the kind of topic I wanted to be thinking about", he almost said out aloud, smiling broadly.
"So, are you going to greet me or should I take the next train back?", said Amie. "Yes", said his brain reminding himself of the programming jokes surrounding the misuse of 'or'; "Hi, long time. You are completely drenched! Sit, let me order a cup of coffee for you first. Excuse me, waiter!", he said out loud.
The difficult thought had been conveniently pushed to the back of his mind. "I prefer this to the solitude", he confessed to himself, while Amie excitedly told him about her journey. The voice came back and said, "For now, I shall let you go on and have a good time, but we need to have a talk. And don't forget, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'."
Note : I think I must mention that I seem to have taken a little too much of inspiration from On rationale and emotion by Suhail Sherif.