I walked for an hour till I started to feel hungry. I was drenched. The rain slowed down.
I got into a random bus and ended up in an another city by the next morning.
It was still raining a bit. I ate something at a small cafe named ‘Dreams’ in front of the bus stop and then I was completely clueless.
I seriously didn’t know what to do. I had little cash. A heavy bag which made my shoulders hurt. A bottle of water and two packs of cigarettes.
I had to find a place for myself. Anytime soon. I had to have a home.
I went to the cafe again and asked the manager if I could work there for some time. He told me that I could do the job of cleaning tables and washing plates.
Bad, really bad.
But, I said yes. I kept my bag, wore the uniform and started cleaning the tables. I had no idea about why I was doing it, or for how long I would do it, but I was doing it. Because I had to do something.
The place was really small but always crowded. The best thing was, the manager gave me free food. I was sorted.
By the end of the day, I told him that I didn’t have a house. He told me that I could sleep there and work in the morning. AGAIN.
Sounded like a bad plan to me but, I said yes.
I had thought that running away would bring me closer to my goal, and I would be having the time of my life. But, there wasn’t a single touch of serendipity. Here I was, cleaning tables and dishes, and sleeping in a cafe named ‘Dreams’.
The next day, I decided that I will make the most of it. I will talk to customers, tell them amazing facts about the world, impress the ladies with my vocabulary and will make my own contacts.
So, before the cafe opened, I made a short list in my notebook of the good things about me. I didn’t include anything about my qualifications, but just the things I would want to brag about.
It was the kind of motivation I needed for myself, from myself.
BETTER LOOKING than other waiters.
Knows a lot about pop culture.
I can sing.
I can dance.
Funny. No no wait
I can run away anytime I want
Better looking than other waiters
I smell good
I look like Ryan Reynolds, no… I don’t. Maybe.’
I read it and I was ready.
No waiter ever asked the customers for the number of seats they were looking for, but then, I was an exception. Of course. (Refer the list)
I was being over friendly to everybody. I was asking them unnecessary questions and details. But, I was doing my job too.
Other waiters were just taking orders. I was the real star. (Though in my head.)
By the evening, I thought that I was wasting time. People weren’t interested. They didn’t want to hear my jokes. They didn’t want me to sing or know about pop culture. I started to feel demotivated but I was still very hopeful.
The next day, I repeated the same thing. I greeted the customers, asked them about their favorite bands, the kind of music they liked, the countries they have visited and so on.
The previous job I was doing, gave me a lot more money. But, this was interesting. And the best part was this uniform had a panda on it. (Though I never understood the reason, but hey, pandas.)
Though I could completely be the manager and handle ‘Dreams’ in a better way, but life wanted me to work as a waiter.A few days later, customers started to smile at me, they asked me what my name was, and were all friendly and also gave me tips. I started painting for the cafe. I painted the walls, the door. The place was much cooler now.
In a week, I was known as the star waiter. I made a lot of friends, my contacts increased with time, and the job became easier
But, I still didn’t have a house. I was not at home. It made me upset but didn’t stop me from working.
One night, I was outside the cafe, leaning on a wall, feeling extremely sad. I wanted to have my own house. I wanted to be at home.
It was drizzling.
The cafe was shut. The shutter was down. I was supposed to be inside, sleeping. But, I was not.
A man came walking like the drizzle. Slowly, as gently as possible, making every footstep audible.
“I am really hungry. I have little money. I have left my house and I have no idea where I am going. Do you have water or something to eat?”
I smiled. Seemed like a similar scenario. I was not supposed to open the cafe, but was some inexplicable reason, I opened the cafe for him.
He seemed to be poor and helpless. I gave him a cup of hot coffee and a burger.
While he was eating, I saw a part of me in him.
Hungry, needy, and most importantly, homeless.
He was insisting me to accept the little amount of money he had, but I didn’t.
I told him to visit us again, anytime soon.
After few days, I read it in a newspaper, that the same man who I met that night, was missing. And his daughter was looking for him. I immediately called up on the number,
“Hi, this is Matt. I work at the Dreams. Your father visited us a few days back at 2 am at night. That was the last time I saw him. He told me that he had no idea about where he was going. I told him to visit us soon.”
The girl started crying.
“My father.. he is mentally sick. He has a bad memory. He.. he might not come back.”
I felt really bad for the girl.
“That’s terrible. If he ever visits us again, or if I see him somewhere, I’ll give you a call. ” I said.
“Give me the cafe’s address.”
I gave her the address.
The girl’s name was Sarah, and she started visiting the cafe daily in the hope that she’ll see her father again.
Even I couldn’t stop thinking of that man. I used to go outside the cafe and look for him. Especially, at night.
Sarah was a teacher. So, after she used to get done with her school, she used to come to the cafe.
Gradually, Sarah and I became really good friends. She used to tell me everything about her father. She spoke about her childhood, her hobbies, her dreams. She loved her father immensely.
She was a beautiful person, with a lot of hope.
She was very fond of me and we eventually fell for each other.
Everyone who knew about Sarah and her father, had started to assume that he is dead. Unfortunately, that seemed possible too. But, Sarah was still hopeful, and so was I.
There were no signs of him, no one saw him anywhere.
But after a month, I saw him outside the cafe in a very terrible condition. Looking lost. Sarah was in school.
I ran out and told him to come inside. I called Sarah and she came in no time. When Sarah looked at her father, she couldn’t stop crying. I had seen a lot of reunions in my life, but this was possibly the most magical one. It seemed like someone came to life, again.
Sarah cried and hugged him really tightly. Everyone at the cafe was emotional.
I stood at a distance, teary eyed and happy. Happy about the fact that Sarah finally met her father.
I was looking at them in awe, when Sarah called me near her and hugged both of us together, and that very moment when she embraced us,
I finally felt, at home.
Had written this short story two years ago. I could have written it in a better way, but this one’s still close to my heart. Open to feedback.