Aditya stirred his dark black coffee, blending the beans which leashed out an enigmatic and irresistible aroma. Inhaling the exotic aroma, he sipped on his coffee. That first sip made his mind to shun its surroundings and be lost in the ecstatic eruption inside of him – just like it happened every such time. Coffee, for him, was a drug that could give him the courage to be insane if he wished to and give him the strength to be sane if he chose to.
Keeping the cup back on the table, he leaned back on the couch and narrowed his eyes at Kashish who was on a phone call since past fifteen minutes. She spoke softly and slowly, making it difficult for Aditya to understand and know not only the context of the conversation but also the person on the other end of the phone. He was also expecting Urvashi, Kashish’s colleague and friend to join them at the coffee shop, but she was nowhere in sight. Bored and agitated, he tapped his fingers on the table vigorously, drawing attention from few other people around. Kashish nodded and a minute later disconnected the phone.
‘I enjoyed your company since past fifteen minutes. Thanks.’ Aditya said, picking his cup again.
‘Yeah, I am sorry.’ Kashish took a deep sigh and ran her hands through her hair. ‘I am stressed.’
‘For? All fine in office?’
‘Actually, no.’ She picked her glass of cold coffee, ‘There is this guy in office, Rahil. He used to like me from a long time but as I was committed to Ayush, he didn’t dare to make any move. But now that I am single again, he has proposed to me and he wants me to be in a relationship with him.’
‘Being single doesn’t mean you’re available!’ He said, ‘Who told him you’re single again?’
‘Umm,’ She cleared her throat. ‘Urvashi was talking to Shivangi about my break up and Rahil just overheard their conversation.’
‘Nice careless bunch of friends you have,’ He said. ‘And do you want to be in relationship with Rahil?’
‘NO WAY!’ She shouted. ‘He is nowhere near to a kind of guy I would want for life. He is immature and insane.’
‘So what’s the problem?’ He said, ‘Simply deny.’
‘If only every man was that sorted, what problems would this universe have?’
‘He is not accepting the denial?’
Kashish nodded a no, ‘Over the top, he is accusing me of breaking his heart.’
Aditya raised an eyebrow, ‘Why?’
‘Because four months back I took his help for completing a project. Plus I joined him at the canteen table a couple of times.’
‘So?’ Aditya said, his face turning into a big question mark.
‘And I smiled at him every time we met on floor. At times when he praised me and said he wish he could be my lover, I would smile and change the topic in order to politely send him a clear message that I wasn’t interested in what he was saying.’ She looked at him in the eye, ‘And as our birthdays fall in the same month, he says it’s a good omen.’
‘I ask it again – SO?’
Kashish bit her lips, ‘So he thinks that I was sending him cues of being interested in him and now I am breaking his heart by denying him. Truth be told, I was trying to be polite to him. I still am. But he ain’t understanding.’
‘Did you ever tell him that you love him and would want to be with him?’
‘Did you tell him that you don’t love him and don’t want to be with him?’
‘Thousand times over.’
‘So basically he is an asshole.’
‘Yes.’ Kashish said.
‘And you’re mother of that asshole.’ He banged his hand on the table.
‘Yes.’ She said, knowing what he meant.
‘Were you talking to Rahil on phone now?’
‘Wow.’ He shot, ‘You lame head! You wasted fifteen minutes of my life for that moron!’
Kashish looked at him and sighed, ‘He wouldn’t keep the phone down. What do I do?’
‘You’re lame.’ Aditya shrieked, ‘Know your priorities, Girl!’
Kashish tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear and looked down at the table. She had hardly gotten over Ayush and before her hurt could be healed, another mess stood knocking right at her front door. For the kind of person she was, she would try and tackle every mess with her goodness and eventually end up damaging and destroying herself. Aditya always thought of her to be naive and stupid for she saw the world the way she wanted to see it and not the way it actually was.
Though Aditya loved the basic her and admired the same goodness and truthfulness of her heart, he also knew that the same goodness had left her off balance in several situations of life. When in need, she could not stand or speak for herself. She would let the dearth consume her till the very end and at the end pose herself as a loser.
He clutched her hand softly and nudged her to look at him. With tears evolving in the contour of her eyes, she looked up at him.
‘I am tired of tackling one mess after another.’ She whispered trying to push her tears back.
‘I know.’ He said, now gentle. ‘But you need to understand that life is a game and there are rules to play. Either you can be oblivious to them and live a meaningless life, or you can define your own rules and live a sorted life where you are the director of your own story and no one else.’
‘But how could I avoid Rahil’s situation? I can’t stop being me. It’s not my fault if he takes me for who I am not.’ She said.
‘You can avoid it by defining and knowing your priorities.’
‘Look here,’ He said and flattened a tissue paper on the table. Taking a pen out of his bag, he drew a small dot in the middle of the paper and drew a circle surrounding the dot. ‘This dot is you. You are a tiny part of this gigantic universe. For you, the universe begins from you. You should be your first priority. Further in life you may face situations where you are clueless and confused of the way that lies ahead. That moment, ask yourself what is it that you desire and need. Then ask yourself what is it that is stopping you from achieving those desires. Once you know what is holding you back from bettering your life, weigh your priorities. Think what is more important to you – the person, the relationship, or the thing that is holding you down – or the desire you wish to fulfil. Make your choice, and never regret it. Things are easy when you know what you want. Then, you just have to act on fulfilling the choice you made.’
‘But how do I tackle this situation?’
‘Here, you already know what you want. You don’t want that person to bug you. If being polite isn’t working, maybe the situation demands something else. It demands you to choose to be firm with conviction. If the situation prioritises you in being the bad guy for the moment, then be so.’ He tightened his grip on her hand, ‘You cannot be good to the world and bad to your own self.’
Kashish looked down at the table, trying to make sense of what Aditya had just conveyed. Some part of her was still confused and lost as she was few minutes back. She looked up at Aditya and he read through her questioning eyes.
‘Mind you, I am not asking you to be selfish. There is a minuscule difference between prioritising yourself and being selfish. I know you are wise enough to understand that.’
Kashish simply nodded and found herself lost in the trail of thoughts that followed thereafter.
‘Will you put some sugar for me in my coffee?’ Aditya said, looking at her intensely.
Second later she looked up to him and said, ‘You never take sugar in your coffee!’
‘Today I want to.’ He said, ‘Please do it for me.’
Kashish picked the red paper packet from the serving tray and tearing it from a corner, she emptied the packet in the coffee. Then, she picked the spoon from the soccer and stirred the coffee to blend the sugar.
‘Why did you just do that?’ He asked, startling her.
‘Do what?’ She asked, confused.
‘Why did you stir the coffee later and not prior to adding the sugar?’
‘Because that’s how it’s supposed to be!’ She said in a matter of fact way, ‘What would I get by stirring the coffee if there is no sugar to blend?’
‘Exactly my point.’ He looked into her eyes softly. ‘It’s important for sugar to be present in the coffee before it could be blended because that’s a basic. Sugar holds the priority over the stirring.’
Her eyes slowly began to give away the confusion and began to reflect her now sorted inside.
‘You are the sugar in this cup of universe and the events of your life are stirring around you.’ He said, ‘You have to make yourself your basic priority. For if you cannot love yourself, protect yourself, and choose for yourself – no one ever can.’
Kashish sat there amazed and calm, with the burden of the situation gradually shedding off from her chest. She now knew what she had to prioritise in the given situation. For once, she had to choose herself over the world.
‘I just insulted my coffee by pouring sugar, you bitch!’ He said, suddenly changing the aura lighter and free. ‘You better understand what I just said!’
Before Kashish could swear on Aditya for being the jerk he was, Urvashi arrived at their table.
Aditya stood up to greet her, ‘And the much awaited gorgeous lady arrives.’ He said.
‘I am sorry I am late.’ She said, hugging him partially.
‘You’re over half hour late.’ Kashish said, making space for Urvashi on the couch.
‘Mumbai traffic sucks.’ She said, taking a seat. ‘I was stuck for twenty minutes in one of the intersections on way.’
‘I think you were the reason for the clustering traffic.’ Aditya said, sitting on his side of the couch.
‘Yep,’ He said. ‘You’re beautiful enough to bring the time at halt!’
‘Oh come on!’ Kashish intervened, ‘Stop being a cheesy jerk.’
‘But I like him.’ Urvashi blushed.
Aditya bowed in compliment. ‘What would you like to have?’
‘The usual.’ Urvashi smiled. ‘I’ll get it.’
‘No, I’ll get it.’ He said and walked up to the counter.
Kashish leaned back on her seat, relaxed and calm. Finally, the weekend meet with Aditya was worth it. He always had the answers to her worries, and she knew she had someone on whom she could count even at the break of midnight that would rip through her life.
Urvashi turned towards the counter to have a glimpse of Aditya. Turning back to Kashish, she smiled sheepishly at her.
‘I like the kind of person he is.’ Urvashi said, ‘So fun loving, kind, sorted, firm, and carefree.’
Kashish looked towards Aditya and said, ‘It took him a long way to arrive at being the person he is today.’
‘So there is journey behind that charming face?’ Urvashi said, ‘His story must be worthwhile.’
‘Yes, it is.’ Kashish smiled with a tinge of pride in her eyes as she gulped the last sip of her coffee.
It’s strange how we at times forget to prioritise our own self while conquering the world. I now understand that I am my basic priority. If I can hold myself strong, my family, my friends, and my dreams would eventually fall in place.
How could I be oblivious to the fact that universe begins from me? I am the light that brightens the darkest and deepest of alley which falls across the way of my life. Either I can choose to shine and defy the night, or I can choose to fall prey to the coming storm and fall like torn kite. The question is not ‘what’ I choose but ‘how’ much I choose – be it light or darkness, for I am the universe and the universe is extreme and bright – then, how can I choose anything but the light?