The Gentle Sweetness

It was 1980s; clouds and thunderstorm covered the streets of Khandala. It was twilight; Mr Dev Jindal drenched got himself a spot in the coffee shop in one of the alleys. The rain was hefty and the streets had puddles of water. Mr Jindal turned off his umbrella and stored it with the cloakroom guard so that there’s no water splash inside and comforted himself inside the café. Due to the wet-weather it was very cold and Mr Jindal decided to order himself hot food and beverages. Due to rush in the café more than expected that evening due to hefty rain outside, all the staffs were busy serving other customers and the café runned by the Gupta family who owned it were on the floor taking care of the customers. Miss Indira Gupta daughter of the café owner was taking orders in the ground floor area of the café where Mr Dev Jindal happened to occupy a table at the corner. Hence, after taking orders from another tables she approached his table and asked for his order. Mr Dev Jindal was spellbounded by her. For the first one minute he went being silent and confounded. Further he asked Miss Gupta to get him anything of her choice from the menu. So, she went and got him cold coffee and an cold closed veg sandwich from the menu. Mr Jindal very eager and excited to consume something hot and dazzling of her choice in this extremely cool and rainy weather was dumbfounded after receiving his order. With a smile Miss Gupta kept it on his table and asked him to enjoy his meal of her choice.
Mr Jindal’s crave of having meal of Miss Gupta’s choice costed him more than his crave of having hot meal. He questioned to himself, what on earth made him ask her to get food of her choice? Quietly he could have ordered what he wanted to have and satiated his desire but to impress her this is the cost he have to endure now of having cold food and cold beverage. Arghhh… Mr Jindal squawked! He was lost in thoughts and Miss Gupta happened to pass by him and interrogated, ‘’Is everything okay; Did’nt you like the foodstuffs?” Mr Jindal surprisingly reverted that it smelled like heaven and surely he’s going to repeat the order and started consuming. In few minutes he was done with it and as committed to Miss Gupta he asked her to repeat the order of her choice again just to impress her. Internally Mr Jindal knew what he was going through as consuming something hot was his true desire that time. But, in order to impress her he again consumed the repeat order and speaking out of his left mind he judiciously praised her choice. Miss Gupta was glad receiving such an acknowledgement. The rain was subtracting and finally after settling his bill Mr Jindal took a leave.
Mr Jindal was from Mumbai and was coming directly from there to his aunt’s house in Lonavala for his cousins wedding. He was staying with her. So, he made a move to her place. The wedding was after a week, he came early as it was Christmas Holiday month from his college. Rushing towards home he had very hot tea as it was much required that time after having everything cold against his wish. After he was done sipping over his tea, his mind was preoccupied in the thoughts of Miss Gupta. Whole night he was lost in her thoughts and finally went for his slumber. After waking up in the morning and getting fresh, he rushed towards the café in Khandala for his brunch. He revisited that café and as he was expecting he found Miss Gupta there and greeted her. This time the waiter came and took his order. He said him to get their favorite dish from the menu which was an cold closed veg sandwich with an cold coffee. The waiter found it a bit weird but as per the order he served him. Mr Jindal pretended to enjoy the meal and kept praising after each of his bite with the other staffs there. He was doing so to get into the notice of Miss Gupta. Miss Gupta understood the signs of Mr Jindal and was certainly impressed by him, but did not reveal it out. Mr Jindal left the café after he was done and proceeded towards his aunt’s place only to come back during the evening. Hence, as it was dusk he returned back there only to confront Miss Gupta. He again placed the same order perpetually. Pretending to enjoy the signature dish of the café and praising people who has this same choice he again repeated the order. Seeing this utterness, this time Miss Gupta got him the order. There was a big smile on his face seeing this. He however consumed the serving and left only to come back on the following day which he did. It continued for three days. On the fourth day Miss Gupta while serving the same dish suggested him to try other dishes too from the menu to which Mr Jindal dialogued; ‘I shall eat the same dish throughout my life as it’s a choice of magnificent people like her!’ Miss Gupta blushed and said, then you should definitely try out our hot paneer wraps, veg burgers and ginger tea as their serving is the best in town and both are her all time favourite. Hearing this Mr Jindal trembled in astonishment. Miss Gupta enjoyed his scenario and smiled. To which Mr Jindal asked her, ‘As per your choice which you said that rainy evening you got me the cold coffee and the cold closed veg sandwich from the menu, how about that? She bursted into laughter and said that she got him food stuffs of her choice from the menu not her favourite dish. As he wanted her to get him foodstuffs of her choice and seeing the rush in the café she got her cold closed veg sandwich which was the easiest and fastest thing to prepare and cold coffee she just got generally. Nowhere he mentioned her to get her favourite dish from the menu so she got him stuffs of her choice which was convenient for her. Mr Jindal was numb without any reaction hearing all this out, which made Miss Gupta more laugh.
Mr Jindal finally understood the fog and was awestrucked on how he kept having something which he never would have had otherwise and all that went in vain. He participated in the laughter with Miss Gupta and they both made fun of such situation and Mr Jindal’s innocence. This sweetness of Mr Jindal however impressed Miss Gupta and they finally started seeing each other. After his cousins wedding was over Mr Jindal went back to Mumbai and kept visiting Lonavala to his aunt’s house in order to meet Miss Gupta during weekends and whenever seemed possible. But, this time he have tried other items in the menu and never again the cold foodstuffs there. Gradually after their graduation they united both their families and got engaged. During those times there was’nt mobile phones nor old traditions allowed them to meet before marriage. The best method for communication was post letters. So, they used to communicate by sending each other hand written post letters.
They shared poems for each other, their feelings and everything they could. Mr Jindal was’nt allowed to travel to Khandala to meet his fiancé now Miss Gupta, they wanted to see each other and dine in together. Hence, Mr Jindal would bring dry foods like Kaju Katli (cashew sweet), Kachori (deep fried snack), Chocolates etc grab few bites and would pack all with an photograph of him and post it to Lonavala to Miss Gupta’s residence. Miss Gupta after receiving would look into his photo and would eat few bites of all the foodstuffs already 30% eaten by Mr Jindal and would leave 20% of it to pack it alongwith her photograph and posted it to Mumbai for Mr Jindal so that he eats the leftover looking into her photo. This sweetness kept on going on an regular basis. It was their way to show love and belongingness for each other.
Situation would take an twist when Miss Gupta to tease Mr Jindal would half eat the cold closed veg sandwich from her café and would post it to him. Mr Jindal found it to be real fun and both enjoyed the process. Once he decided to drive down to Lonavala secretly to surprise her. He picked up his cousin and his friend from Khandala and visited her café so that his cousin’s friend goes and orders cold coffee and cold closed veg sandwich there in her presence. He did the same, had it and left. Again after few hours he revisited and placed the same order which made Miss Gupta a bit jiggle as she recalled how Mr Jindal used to do the same. She was amazed seeing all this. Finally Mr Jindal himself visited the café and secretly occupied the table and ordered the same foodstuffs which really made Miss Gupta muddled and she decided to go and see the customer. To her utter surprise she found Mr Jindal sat down there; at the very first she did not believe that it was him but finally was surprised and amazed seeing him as it was’nt expected. Then she understood that it was a prank which was played by him and his cousin’s friend.
Mr Jindal’s cousin used to visit Mumbai very frequently for his business work, many a times he used to secretly pick up Miss Gupta and arranged an meeting with Mr Jindal at one of the restaurants there. From there Mr Jindal used to take her out for drive and spent good time with her. While returning back to Lonavala his cousin used to pick her up to drop at her place. At home Miss Gupta used to say that she is going to her friends house at an nearby village and Mr Jindal used to say that he is going to meet his cousin who have visited Mumbai for a short period of time. During those times they could’nt be frank at home so this was a sweet lie they used to say to meet each other.
Always to add on to the fun of meeting each other, Miss Gupta used to pack the cold closed veg sandwich for Mr Jindal to tease him. But, there was an emotional connect for both of them with it as at their very first meet they happened to order this dish. Till today for breakfast Miss Gupta now Mrs Jindal teases her husband Mr Jindal by preparing the old cold closed veg sandwich and sometimes gives him cold coffee in place of his regular cup of hot coffee. They believe that by doing such, they relive their old memories and get nostalgic. Yes now they confirmed that they don’t have to half eat the foodstuffs for another to finish up as now they sit together and have their food with each others company. It has been 40 years of their marriage now, still they relive their old 1980’s memory and enjoys every moment of it.
In today’s world, everything have become so fast forwarded. Post cards etc have become outdated. Today’s couple can simply video call whenever they want, can go around openly without any hindrance even before marriage. Love is love, it just happens; it does’nt see in which era we are in or how technological advance the world is. Hence, be it be 1970s, 1980s or 2020s love will stay elastic and will stay perpetual. What we can understand from this sweet short love story of Mr and Mrs Jindal is during their era which lacked all the technological advancement and contained old traditional beliefs; still this sweet couple made their way out to express their love for each other, sent half eaten foodstuffs to each other to live that feeling of belongingness and made certain events possible which otherwise a normal couple would’nt have done seeing the orthodox traditional beliefs.
Every era has their own sweet and eccentric love story; the story starts and continues according to the culture and beliefs being accepted during that era. Few under pressure compresses their feelings and few quirky ones like Mr and Mrs Jindal makes the best use of the available resources and expresses their love and feelings in the best way possible in accordance to the limitations.
Henceforth, their love continues……… and have grown in abundance by connecting the dots of their 1980s old memoir.

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