He smiled at her and pulled her closer and embraced her tightly. They needed it. They knew they needed it. There was to be no looking back now…
She sat sipping the coffee, her eyes riveted to the entrance.
As she took a third sip of the warm liquid, she began to think of the days that had passed and smiled.
After the incident in the theater, life had never been the same. It was now a roller-coaster of fun and enjoyment. He had the talent of surprising her every time she thought he had exhausted his stock. Somehow he managed to come up with something new each time. She wondered how long it would last.
She had been doing that often lately. She never knew she could become so involved in a man. But then he was different. Yeah, right! Nice way of saying, I am madly in love with him. Was he equally serious about her? There was no way of knowing. They had been seeing each other for almost 2 months now. Should they move on to a further level? Or is it too early? What will he think? Is he ready? Or was she just a passing fancy? STOP!!
She held her hand to steady herself. Her eyes were shut tight. She tried to calm her frayed nerves and slowly opened her eyes. He was sitting in front of her.
“They are calling for you,” he said, simply.
It hadn’t registered to her that the café speakers had been calling out her name for the past thirty seconds or so.
“I said they are calling for you,” he said it again.
“Calling for me? What for?” she managed to blurt out.
“Beats me! Why don’t you ask them?” he said without so much of a flicker of interest on his face.
She rose in a daze and started to walk towards the counter. A couple of steps later she paused and looked back. He had calmly picked up a newspaper and was nonchalantly sipping away at her coffee. She chuckled to herself and proceeded towards the counter.
The pretty young thing at the counter with her plastic smile chirped, “Yes ma’am! What can I do for you?”
“A lot of things… But for starters you can give me a good reason for calling me here.”
“Oh! So you are she!! Let me tell you ma’am that you are a very lucky woman… Just a moment, ma’am,” and the PYT threw a quick glance at her table, gave another sly grin and went into the innards of the kitchen/pantry before she could say anything.
The wheels of reason began to grind and she turned to look at him and saw a newspaper being hurriedly raised. ‘Oh well! He’s never gonna get tired of doing it, I guess,’ she said to herself and braced for the new surprise that was coming and turned towards the counter. She did not try to guess what it could be. She had learned that doing so was an exercise in futility. He always managed to go beyond her guessing capabilities. So she soon learned to resign and enjoy the surprises as they came.
The PYT soon came back with a small gift wrapped box. She handed over the box to her and said in a furtive tone, “There’s more,” and gestured towards her table.
This bewildered her even more and she turned to go back to her seat and stopped dead in her tracks.
On the table on which they were sitting, was kept a beautiful cake shaped in the form of a rose-bud with words in sugary icing:
“There are still 10 months to go before we celebrate an ‘anniversary’!” She said without emphasis.
“Who says this is for our first anniversary of being together? This is for our ‘minus first’ marriage anniversary,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Our ‘minus first’ marriage anniversary. I have decided we are gonna get married exactly a year from now. And I am not asking any questions, I am merely stating facts.”
She sat down in front of him with tears streaming down her face. He simply smiled and produced a knife to cut the cake with.
She smiled through her tears and took the knife. She was about to cut the cake when suddenly she remembered the box. She placed the knife aside and said, “And this is the engagement ring, I suppose?”
“Why don’t you see it for yourself?” he smiled that impish smile again.
She removed the layers of wrapping and found a box. She opened the box and found…
“You have been looking for it for almost a week, remember? I found it under my desk and thought you would like it gift-wrapped. So here it is!!”
“Is this your idea of a joke? If it is, I am not laughing! And what is this cake for then? Where’s the engagement ring?” She was almost yelling. She had no idea of what was happening and no idea of what she was saying. All she knew was that she was the happiest person in the world and did not care for anything else now.
She looked at him to find him grinning broadly, almost laughing. He stood up, took the knife, put it in her hand, held her hands and proceeded to cut the cake. As they did so, the knife hit something.
He gave a mock gasp. “What do we have here?” he said in mock surprise.
She had already given up speculating and was smiling and crying at the same time – something that only a woman can do. She watched him fish out another gift-wrapped package this one smaller that the box. In fact, it looked more like a toffee than anything else. He offered the toffee to her and faked it a soon as she tried to take it.
He unwrapped the toffee and produced a ring with a gleaming stone. He went down on his right knee and said in clear, precise words –
“Is this yours?”
“What?” she yelled.
“Oh sorry! Wrong dialogue… I meant to say, ‘Will you marry me?’ ”
She let it all go and nodded a yes as well as she could and when he got up embraced him as hard as she could. Her tears were no longer alien. In fact, they seemed friendlier than ever. She had found her one true love.