A Lot Can Happen Over Coffee: A Story About Joys Of Friendship

Sulakshna stood at the threshold of her flat, and looked on dumbfounded. But she had little choice when it came to Prerna. She did not want to spend her energy on ousting Prerna and so she resolved to give in.And who was she kidding? She liked coffee too.

 

Sulakshna shifted uncomfortably on her chair and squinted. Loud music often had that effect on her. Well, not always. But it was ages since she thought about those unfamiliar trails.

“I am levitating , the Milky Way, we are renegading…yeah yeah yeah…”

Meanwhile, Prerna, Sulakshna’s neighbour hummed unaware of her surroundings.

“I am famished. Coffee it is. Let me take a break,” she trotted towards the kitchen of her humble one-bedroom flat all the while still singing away to glory.

“Shit I forgot to order milk yet again. What will I do now? I am drowsy as hell,” she cursed between breaths.

And before she knew it, Prerna found herself heading towards the door and soon she stood face to face with her next-door neighbour, Sulakshna aunty.

Offering a grin, Prerna asked, “Hello aunty. What’s up? I need some milk. Just a tiny cup would suffice.”

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Sulakshna was visibly miffed but she chose not to express her indignation. She had a peaceful existence not many months ago. And then Covid hit. Her next-door neighbour who hardly used to be home suddenly was trapped indoors to Sulakshna’s utter dismay.

Now music reverberated at all hours and Sulakshana was quite sure that Prerna functioned primarily on coffee and loud music.

“Aunty by the way you must be bored to death too, right? Oh! wrong choice of words. I mean not that I think you are old so you would you know drop dead,” Prerna fidgeted.

 Sulakshna furrowed her brows, she looked at the young woman and let out a sigh, “I get it. I get it. No need to explain yourself. But, if you don’t stop with your loud music, especially during night time, I might get a stroke and maybe you know really drop dead soon!”

Prerna, was not discouraged by the gloomy words and stomped her way inside Sulakshna’s flat and went straight towards the kitchen.

“Aunty you are the vibe. I love your sense of humour. And before you kick me out, I think I will make two cups of coffee and chill with you for a while. As such I have a slow day at work today.”

After a pause, she continued, “There is a meeting to decide as to what would be the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting. Can you believe it?”

Sulakshna stood at the threshold of her flat, and looked on dumbfounded. But she had little choice when it came to Prerna. She did not want to spend her energy on ousting Prerna and so she resolved to give in.

And who was she kidding? She liked coffee too.

As the two women sat on the blue sofa which was withered at the edges, Prerna sighed.

“Aunty, I am so happy that at least you are here. All my friends have left for their hometowns owing to this ‘work from home’ menace.”

“It isn’t a menace. Don’t you get the freedom to work from the comfort of your home and also be safe and sound? Nothing ever pleases this generation.” Sulakshna grimaced.

Prerna smiled, it was time to elaborate her thoughts,“But aunty, working in an office feels different. I felt alive and invigorated when I used to go out to work.”

Tapping her coffee cup, the young woman continued, “That’s why I put on this music and all to be charged up, you see. And as such we have one life to live, why not live it to the fullest.” 

“Ok, then let’s do one thing. From tomorrow why don’t you come over to my place to work,” Sulakshna uttered in a jiffy and a wave of dread swept through her as soon as she said these words.

“Great! I am game.” Prerna exclaimed.

It was too late to back out.

***

A comofrting upheaval

The next few days brought about an upheaval of sorts in Sulakshna’s life. She was greeted by Prerna at her doorstep every morning at nine.

Before Sulakshna could object, coffee was being made. And to top it all music was put on. Though as per Prerna she was being considerate enough to tone down the volume.

Sulakshna sincerely mulled over telling Prerna to get back to the previous arrangement. But then she was a proud woman. And she didn’t want Prerna to think of her as a boring and grumpy old woman.  

And so, the days went on in between mugs of coffee and wails of western music as Sulakshna liked to call them.

It had been a week since Prerna had been visiting Sulakshna’s house. “Your house is my adda till six every day aunty. Work isn’t that boring now. And I get to eat your scrumptious food. It is a win-win for both of us. Isn’t it?” Prerna would chime.

Sulakshna nodded along.

***

A strange realisation

 

Sulakshna peered at the grandfather clock which seemed to stare back at her as if it were an old man in a brown cloak.

It was nine-thirty already.

Prerna had not come this morning. For a minute Sulakshna took a sigh of relief. She assumed that perhaps good sense prevailed and the girl realized that it was better to be at her home. Sulakshana was a private person after all.

She got on with her day. But, then after a couple of hours when she had finished her chores and when she sat on her favourite chair next to the window, something felt amiss.

And then like a flash of lightening, it dawned on her. It was the silence of her home which felt oddly unfamiliar and disconcerting. Was she, Sulakshna Dave, a self-proclaimed loner, missing the outlandish next-door neighbour of hers? Was she yearning for Prerna’s company?

The realization shook her.

When she was widowed a few years ago, Sulakshna chose to stay alone. Her only son was working abroad and she did not want to leave everything and move in with him. This was her home.

Every nook and corner emanated the scent of myriads of memories of the life she had built with her husband. How could she leave those memories behind? Thus, she shut herself behind these doors.

But today as she looked out the window it felt that a tiny window had opened up within her as well.

Sulakshna almost ran towards the flat next door. Before she could ring the bell, Prerna opened up and gave her that dazzling smile that dented both her cheeks into dimples.

“Aunty, I am so sorry. I overslept and then I had period cramps. Took a medicine. Now I am good to go.”

“Oh. Don’t worry, I will make filter coffee for you. A hot beverage will make you feel better,” Sulakshna said in a softened tone while Prerna gaped at her.

As they sat in the living room, Sulakshna exclaimed, “So, no music today?”

Prerna craned her neck from her laptop and grinned.

“Oh my God, look at you. Someone likes my music. Did I just convert you aunty? I thought you despised me playing my what did you say ‘jarring music’?”

Sulakshna smiled.

“I did not despise music but I think I hated being alive. I couldn’t get myself to enjoy the little pleasures of life. And lady, I used to play guitar too in my heydays. Don’t underestimate me.” Sulakshna pouted.

“And you are telling me this now? You will have to play it for me. And maybe teach me some chords. I am too impatient to learn an instrument. But…”

“But, we have only one life why not live it up, right? Better late than never”. Sulakshna laughed as Prerna took her grumpy old neighbour in her arms.

Music soon spilled through the walls of the cream-coloured living room as the two women sang boisterously.

“I am levitating , the Milky Way, we are renegading…yeah yeah yeah…”

Image source: Yogendra Singh from Studio India, free on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Meha Sharma

Meha has worked as a Business Analyst in an elite IT firm and as a full time professor in management colleges. Having earned an MBA degree in Human Resource Management and an MA degree in read more...

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