Joe and Dev were in Goa. They listed all the places and beaches and decided to visit all the possible villas near the beaches. Roaming on the roads of Goa with Yuvika’s photo looked a terribly filmy idea to both of them. So they chose to visit each place and look for villas and a single woman living there. At least they assumed that she was still single.
It was 7 in the evening. They were in Benaulim, a coastal village situated in Salcete in South Goa. Dev and Joe had been looking for her continuously. They were exhausted, tired and hungry. On their way back to their resort, they saw a cafe on the right side of the road. It was exactly opposite the Benaulim seashore. They stopped the car.
“How come we didn’t notice this house earlier?” asked Joe.
“The lights make it more noticeable now.”
The building had an urban touch. It was a two storey bungalow. It has wider in an area as compared to its height. The entire compound wall was white and was covered with purple bougainvillaea flowers. Only the gate was left uncovered. But it was sheltered by the flowers. A car and two bicycles were parked outside the gate. There was another bicycle leant against the wall. It had a basket which contained plants and yellow flowers blossomed.
A wooden board was dangled with a support of a black rod. It peeped out of the lush of bougainvillaea flowers near the gate. ‘Brewing Books Cafe’ was written on the wooden board in simple fonts. The board and fonts were decorated with yellow sparkling lights. Some lights were also scattered on the bougainvillaea flowers over the gate. The gate was opened and it was the sign that the cafe was not closed yet.
Dev and Joe decided to eat something there.
They stepped in the garden. It was huger than they had assumed. It was a big area for a single bungalow. The entire bungalow was in white colour except for the doors and windows. They were kept in their original wooden finishing and it seemed like they were varnished recently. They could smell it too. After the garden, there was a huge porch where wooden tables and chairs were placed. A man was spotted in the entire area. He was sitting with a brush in his hand and a can of varnish on his left. He was still working on a chair-leg.
Dev and Joe stepped on the porch and looked around. There was one half-glass & a half-wooden door which opened into the room where some more tables and chairs could be seen. Some people were sitting there. They looked like tourists.
The man with a paint brush walked to them and asked them, “How can I help you, sir?”
They were led to the table. They chose to sit outside. From that level, the sea could easily be seen. The rows of lights on both sides of the tracks to the seashore made it an amazing view to spot. The cool breeze was moist but it was refreshing. The area of the cafe was peaceful so roars of the waves were clearly audible. It was the mini heaven in itself. They could doze off there if the man with brush had not returned to them to inform that they were supposed to place their order at the counter.
While enjoying their coffee and doughnuts, they were planning for the next day. They would visit many other beaches and places. That man again returned. This time, he didn’t have the brush with him. He bent a little and said, “Sir, would you like to read something?”
Joe chuckled. “What? For now, just let us have something which we can eat. A few more doughnuts will do, I guess.” That man also smiled.
Dev asked out of curiosity, “Reading? In a cafe?”
“Yes, Sir. We have the facility where you can enjoy your snacks with a good company of books. That’s why our cafe is called ‘Brewing Books’.”
Joe stopped chewing for a second and said, “Oh. That makes sense. Hmm…” He went back to his doughnuts.
But something had struck Dev’s mind. “What did you just say?”
That man repeated himself. “This cafe is developed with a particular concept. It’s a cafe-cum-readers’ hub. But we don’t sell books. You can sit and read here for as many hours as you want.”
Dev got numb for a couple of seconds. Joe looked at him. He tapped on Dev’s hand. “What? What are you thinking?”
The man was still there waiting for their response.
“Do you realise anything?” Dev asked Joe with wide eyes. Joe didn’t understand anything. Dev continued, “It is a cafe-cum-book store. This is exactly what Yuvika used to say.” Dev and Joe both looked at the man.
The man beamed and asked enthusiastically, “Do you know our Ma’am?”
“You mean Yuvika Shroff?” asked Dev.
The man nodded affirmatively.
There you go. They had found the treasure. Dev and Joe looked at each other with immense joy. They burst into laughter. They laughed till their eyes got wet and stomachs ached. The man watched them. He was laughing too. But he had no idea what was going on.
Dev calmed himself down and turned to the man. “Is Yuvika here?”
“Can we meet her?”
Joe and Dev followed the man through the first hall which was filled with people enjoying their snacks and chats. The hall was lit with a huge chandelier and some other corner lights and shades. The chandelier was gigantic. It was affixed to the uppermost ceiling of the house and it illuminated both the floors of the house. They saw the railings of the upper floor on three sides.
They entered another room. It was a big room filled with cabinets and shelves of different shapes and size containing books. Every piece of furniture was different from each other. It seemed that each was handpicked. The entire room was ideally lit giving readers an ease to read. Two to three boys were standing in front of one of the shelves while a teenage girl with a lady was sitting on the sofa in the corner. The lady was trying to express something to the little girl from the book. Her gesture spoke of a story where the scenery consisted of tall trees and mountains.
“This way, Sir.” The man guided the duo further.
They turned to the left in the room. There was a glass staircase spiralled to the first floor. The staircase had an artistic touch; each wooden step was in the shape of a half-cut piece of wood with the flat surface was to step on.
They went upstairs and entered another big room. The room was empty but the walls were filled with paintings and art pieces. Some of the giant paintings were leant against each wall. On the right, they saw the railing from where they could see the entire cafeteria room from where they had entered the house. Now the chandelier looked even more massive from the close. The room was progressed in a lobby on its right. On the right side of the lobby, there were three doors. Out of them, two were locked. They had different nameplates; Books, Office, Store respectively. The lobby ended with another room. It was Yuvika’s. That’s what the man said.
Yuvika was in the office.
They walked through the lobby and reached the office.
The man knocked on the door. Joe had anxiousness on his face while Dev was tapping his foot on the floor out of anxiety. They were eager to see her.
The man pushed the door gently and they saw her standing on the other side of the table. She was looking out of the window. The room smelt of papers. It also contained shelves. A set of the sofa was placed near the door. A laptop was placed on the table. It was closed. Piles of files and magazines too were on the table.
The man said with a soft voice, “Ma’am, we have guests who are looking for you.”
Yuvika turned around. Dev and Joe became keener. She seemed the same at the first glance. She was wearing a long burgundy kurta. She had a glass in her hand. It seemed like red wine. This was the first change they noticed in her appearance apart from the longer hair and paler skin.
Yuvika put the glass down on the table. Her eyes were narrowed. She smiled modestly. The smile became wider.
“Oh my god!” She started laughing. They heard her finally. She was clearly happy. Seeing this, Dev and Joe too, started laughing. She walked to them and hugged both. There was an immense happiness in her eyes, but she was not emotional. It could be figured out easily who knew her.
Dev sat on the sofa while Joe and Yuvika took the chairs and sat in front of him. The man had left the room.
“Joe, look at you. You have become a handsome man,” said Yuvika.
Joe felt shy; a compliment from his family. Dev could understand his emotions now.
“So when did you guys come?” Yuvika initiated the conversation.
They talked about how they found where she was and how they looked for her in Goa. She also talked about her life in Goa. She wisely skipped the part of her journey from when she left Chitgarh and went to Mumbai and then to Goa. She chose to talk about the cream part only.
Dev’s happiness seemed no boundary. But he could not ignore the woe she had lived with. She was living even more lonely life now; with so many people around but no one to call her own. And how could the alcohol go unseen? He would have to talk to her. He wanted to.
“Aren’t you guys hungry?” asked Yuvika.
“We were. But we are excited to have met you after so long. So the hunger vanishes.” Joe was still beaming.
Yuvika took them to the tour of rest of the bungalow. On the staircase, Joe went ahead followed by Dev and Yuvika was the last in the queue. Dev stopped at the stair and turned around to face Yuvika.
“Hey,” said Dev.
Yuvika gave him a puzzled look. “Huh?”
“So you made it. I feel proud that you fulfilled your dream.”
She smiled and nodded.
Dev continued, “Are you happy?”
“Yes.” She smiled convincingly.
“But please don’t disappear now.” He had a complaining tone.
“I have never disappeared. I have just tried to walk ahead a little.”
They sat on the porch. Joe and Dev had their coffee.
“It seems like coffee is not your drink anymore.” Joe winked. Yuvika chuckled. Dev frowned. She noticed but ignored it.
Dev’s phone rang. It read ‘Dad’. He got up and went to the garden picking up the phone.
“Dev, will anyone tell me clearly where are you and why? Your mother is keeping quiet. Is there any secrecy?” asked Mr Dixit.
Dev laughed and said, “What? Secrecy? Well, I am on a mission, I guess.”
“I am not joking, Dev. Tell me where are you and why?”
“Why do you always inquire? Why do you always want an explanation? Can’t we just talk, Dad?”
“All right. Just tell me are you in Goa?”
“Yuvika is here.”
“Oh. Is it so? How is she?”
“She is fine.”
“Okay. Great. Tell her if she needs anything. She can ask for it.”
Dev turned around and glanced at the bungalow. Raising his eyebrows, he said, “Sure.”
“And I want you here soon. You know we should not keep them waiting for so long.”
“Yes, Dad. I understand.”
Dev and Joe had come back to their resort to rest. For the next day, they planned to have breakfast at Yuvika’s cafe.
The cafe was closed. Yuvika closed the door and locked it. She went to the counter and took a mug. She made herself a strong coffee. She poured it into the mug and sat on the chair resting her hands on the counter. Sip by sip, she tried to enjoy her coffee.
Is it really not my drink anymore?
Joe was standing in the garden of the resort near the swimming pool. He could see the beach. A few scattered lights made the shore visible. Except for some tourists of the resort and a number of stilts, no one was there on the beach. An immense peace was not disturbed by the roaring waves. In fact, it added the drama into the scenario. A cold wind was harsher at this time. Dev came and stood beside Joe, crossing his arms over his chest.
“It is relaxing after a tiring search mission, isn’t it?” Dev smirked.
“Oh yes. We finally met her. She is not changed,” said Joe.
“You look surprised.”
“Well, no. I am not. I know her. She is not the one who changes her persona. But she is just more subtle, calmer.”
“Yes. I noticed it.” Dev nodded. He looked at Joe who was still observing the sea. “Are you going to tell her?”
Joe sighed. “I don’t know.”
“Are you confused?”
“No. But I just don’t want to lose her again.” Joe blinked and looked down. “You know what; I am okay with not telling her the truth if I can keep my dear friend. It might hurt her lesser.”
“But it may make her even happier if she knows that her family is around. It makes one feel safer. She has lived with the void of the family which you can fill.”
Read the consecutive story here: https://faceoffiction.wordpress.com/consecutive-story/
The story is a complete fiction. Any resemblance to the real world is a pure coincidence.