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Short stories

Table for Two

I work part time at Cafe D’Costa, because it helps me to pay for my extra expenses. Cafe D’Costa, the only two storey cafe, is a very well known place in the city. Even on weekdays at odd times, you’d find a lot of people sitting and sipping. However, weekends bring in more people than usual. This story isn’t about me or about the cafe. It’s about Mr. Chauhan, our regular customer.

Mr. Chauhan was a man of about 40, who’d visit the cafe mostly on Saturdays. He’d ask for a table for two and since he was an old customer, there’d always be a table reserved for him on the first floor, a table for two in the dimmest corner. He’d order two coffees after exactly 15 minutes and would ask the waiters to not come to him unless he calls them. There was a special, rather strange reason behind it.

Earlier he used to visit the cafe with his brother. Both of them would come every Saturday to have a coffee together. It was the only day when they had time to meet each other from their daily humdrum life, he’d once told me. Last year, his brother died on the day of his birthday and that turned Mr. Chauhan into a strange man. He never stopped coming to the cafe. He’d still come, order two coffees and would say that the other one is for his brother. The waiters and customers would hear him talking to himself. And once he’d leave, both the cups would be found empty. I used to wonder why would anyone order two cups of coffee for themselves at the same time, until last month.

I was taking an order from a table behind the one where Mr. Chauhan used to sit and like always, he was talking to himself. He seemed to be happier than the usual but it looked strange, because it didn’t seem like he was talking to himself. It surely looked like he was talking to someone sitting opposite to him. I even saw him giving a high five in the air. He then put three sugar cubes in the cup on his side and two in the other. I saw him stirring his own coffee and the spoon in the other cup stirring the coffee on its own.

On the next day, we received the news of Mr. Chauhan’s demise. Since then on every Saturday, Cafe D’Costa keeps the same table for two reserved only for Mr. Chauhan, and his brother.

-Written by: Purvang Joshi

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