I don’t know why this happens all the time. It appears to me often that the entire cosmos brew a special conspiracy so that I hear all kinds of story, even those, which I don’t like. Why can’t I
just slurp my coffee in a Starbucks quietly? Why my ears, pretty much like a dog, eavesdrop on everything I hear. And why on earth, all these hobnobbing teenagers, complaining about love,
happen to sit adjacent to me. Every effing time, I go to a Starbucks or a KFC or a CCD, I am hemmed by people who aren’t happy - because their girl friend or boy friend is leaving them or it's a
post break up meet up or something else had transpired, reasons fall short, but not their agony. This makes me think - where as a society we are heading towards, where no freaking adolescent is -
happy. And for the youth – who are nothing but adolescents mired in the corporate web, whose energy is being siphoned off by fat bellied carpetbaggers – the situation is even direr. The youth of
this country work for more than 60 hours a week, while their bosses, the so called business mastermind erect sky scrapers and call it a home for their family of three. Injustices, inequality, -
ambiguity - look and contemplate the mettle of this writer, who is falling short of words to describe his country's hypocrisy. Look what this country has done to him.
Think and think hard about it. Meanwhile, I entered a Starbucks again, but it is Wednesday and I’ve three research articles to finish in office, but I decided to take a day off. The clock affixed
just above the entrance had just struck 11, and the city after a period of maniacal peak hour traffic has picked up pace. Cars and buses are moving faster, making commute little bit easier.
But what is the reason of my untimely Starbucks visit? Well, it is for my unending love for stories. I cannot go to sleep, can’t eat, can’t drink if I don’t write. Quoting Salman Rushdie –
“If I could do anything but writing, I would have done that, but unfortunately I can’t.” My life more or less is the same minus the talent that Sir Salman possesses. I too happen to be an
engineer turned author, which by the way is a very common phenomenon in India. Because here you become engineers first, then decide what you actually want to do. So there were no surprises for me
I studied science after high school, toiled hard in those scams called coaching center, managed to get a decent rank in a national entrance, and secured a seat in a premier college. No sooner
than I joined college, I realized, engineering wasn’t my thing, so I began to ponder what my calling is? And after thorough contemplation, I recognized that writing, which used to be my favorite
past time, of which I only had faded memory, as my mind had then been galvanized by books like H C Verma, M L Khanna, S L Looney, Halliday, and others, was my passion. Memories of my high school
were obfuscated. But I did reckon my reticent self writing a naive poem or a story. That was my eureka moment and I decided to pursue a career in writing. Nevertheless, I completed my engineering
and then unfolded my desire to my parents and boy they were furious. My father thought it was an attack on his ego while my mother noticed my gel clad hair and blamed hair gels for such
aberration. I was astonished, how a creative career is always belittled in a country that worships Bollywood actors. “No one in our family has done anything like that. What is your worth as a
writer? How are you going to feed yourself?” my father roared. Well, I am happy that my father was wrong that day and I did find a job in a magazine as an Assistant Editor, and followed
my writing journey. I still work there, it had been three years, and within that time I had published my debut novel ¬– ‘A Story of Conflicts’. Although, it received mild response, it pretty much
had satiated my quest of becoming a published author. Just after my quite unsuccessful stint with ‘A Story of Conflicts’, my colleague Rishi had suggested “Why don’t you write a romance novel.
They sell like hot potatoes.” “I don’t have the elements to write a love story,” I sighed “Nobody actually does. Visit CCDs, Starbucks, and I am sure you will get a story idea,” he remarked.
I shooed away his opinion at first and avoided it. But his words were onto me and soon I started frequenting all the coffee joints and at times KFC – because I love chicken. I observed everyone,
but heard mostly crap. Nothing could roil my mind enough for a story. And then I came across this couple, in their mid twenties. It was a Sunday afternoon when I was on my story hunt at a
Starbucks, I saw them enter and sit on the table adjacent mine. They ordered and food was served. The facade of the guy changed every moment as he scarfed down a Starbucks burger. They seemed to
to be a happy and content couple – a rare commodity, I must tell you. But not for long, the girl said “How long can I wait for you? I am a girl after all. Parents will pressurize me for marriage”
The guy seemed to be a little bit indifferent. He certainly didn’t construe what she was about to say next. “My parents already have fixed my marriage. And I have capitulated,” the girl said.
Horror surfaced on the guy’s countenance now. He was nonplussed, not able to fathom how to react. Anger, disapprobation, exasperation, annoyance – which weapon should he unleash – he didn’t know.
“Are you nuts? How could you agree?” the guy scoffed. “I am not joking.” “How could you do that to me?” “You promised me you will get a promotion in two years and then cajole my dad about
our marriage. Nothing of that sort had happened. And you are still an average employee with no scope of promotion in another zillion years. How can I spend my life with such a loser,” she bursted
“Bitch,” I mumbled under my breath. “As if you have been promoted to CEO,” he quipped “These things are not in my hand.” “I don’t know anything. I am getting married next month. I came here today
to break it off with you. Find someone else,” she remarked sarcastically “Bitch,” I mumbled again. This guy so far had been acting touch but his vulnerability had already been forayed. Tears
brimmed on his ocular banks. He took out his handkerchief and wiped his eyes. The girl dashed out while he sobbed quietly for a while. After a minute or two he phoned her, and I eagerly tried to
listen what words were being thrown from the other end. Finally a deal was struck between them. They agreed to meet on Wednesday at 11 in the morning. Being a part of this daily-soap-ish drama,
it was a must for me to see through the climax. Therefore, I was in Starbucks again. I spotted the dysfunctional couple and occupied a chair near them. Surprisingly, there was a vibe of
cheerfulness. Both of them were laughing. The guy said – “I let you go because I love you,” she looked at him with adulation “I quote from the book Philsosophy by Phil Dunphy – if you love
someone, let him/her go, unless it’s a tiger.” They broke into an uncontrollable mirth again. There was something amiss. This wasn’t love at all. This sudden turn of events had puzzled my grey
matter. I wondered how impoverished and malnutritioned the subject of love has become. The epiphany of writing about romance vanquished in a split second. “I have umpteen things to write about.
Love story isn’t just worth it,” I muttered and decided to move out. In the meantime, a neatly dressed Starbucks waiter came to me with a microphone in his hand.
He started “Today we are celebrating 5th anniversary of this store. So we are playing a game. You have to recollect your sweetest memory about this place and connect it with the phrase
‘And then Starbucks whispered’,” he handed over the microphone. Everyone’s gaze was on me. “And then Starbucks whispered,” I caroled few times and hushed “Love is fragile”