Blogging Challenge, Fiction, Relationships, Story-telling, Such is life

Coffee and Memories

Mitali adjusted the pallu of her cotton saree, careful not to overdo the creases. Its lovely plain parrot green colour and pale blue border lined with golden motifs complimented her Ikkat lilac blouse beautifully. She had taken special care with her makeup and jewellery today. Her smoky black kohled eyes and nude lipstick paired perfectly with her statement silver necklace and bangles. A dark blue bindi completed her look. She frequented this café as a child and remembered being mesmerized by its murals, antique wooden furniture, checkered red and white table covers, and fancy cutlery. Everything seemed a tad dull and faded now. She sipped on her chilled cold coffee while quietly taking it all in. Is this what life does to people too? She wondered.

Even in her late forties, Mitali’s captivating beauty made heads turn and she often enjoyed the attention. Not today though. Her poised outward appearance starkly contrasted with the storm rumbling inside her. Why did she agree to this? It had been years since she had broken contact. This meeting would only prod and reopen old wounds. She had worked hard to detach herself from her past and locked the box stacked with those painful memories in the darkest recesses of her mind. She felt she was free. But was she?

coffee and memories_avibrantpalette

Tinkling the ice cubes in the coffee glass in her hand, Mitali couldn’t help being transported to that fateful day. She was a teenager and had recently taken admission to junior college. Thanks to a student’s protest over a sudden fee hike, all her classes for the day were cancelled and she was home early. She unlocked the door with her key and heard loud noises emanating from her parents’ bedroom. Guilty to eavesdrop but curious nevertheless, she stealthily moved closer to figure out what they were arguing about.

“Do you want us to separate? That seems like the right thing to do. Since, you know.” she heard her father say and her heart grinded to a halt. “You would like that, won’t you? Did you ever stop for a moment to think about me or Mitthu? You travel twenty days a week. Little surprise that this happened and now you want to break ties with me.” her mother replied furiously. “Listen, I just…” her father started but her mother cut in, “If that’s what you want, fine. I don’t even know what to say. How can you be normal about this?”

Mitali moved away as more accusations followed. She had heard enough. She ambled out the main door and slowly closed it behind her. Her head was throbbing and all life seemed to seep through her pores as sweat. What was happening? Her parents were the perfect couple and the true epitome of love! How can they talk about separating? Had one of them cheated on the other? It sure sounded like it. What next? Will they go ahead with it? Hope she wasn’t made to take sides. Confused, afraid, and tired, she walked aimlessly around town till evening and came home to the final news. They had settled for a mutual divorce.

A screaming toddler on the adjacent table shook Mitali out of her reverie. As he went under her table looking for his missing toy car, she irritably picked up her coffee glass to save it from spilling or shattering into pieces. Just then her gaze moved to the café entrance and she saw the person she had been waiting for enter. Their eyes met and the last time they had seen each other flashed in front of her eyes.

Mitali and her father sat across the table in the visiting room of her college hostel. He had accepted a job in another city post-divorce and had come to bid her goodbye. Her mother was back to giving private tuitions and moved from their rented home to a smaller one. Her grandmother had joined her temporarily. Mitali refused to be tossed around like a tennis ball and gave everyone a cold shoulder. Incensed at being kept in the dark, she never confessed that she knew. Her father tried to reason with her but she didn’t utter a word to him. The coffee sent for them lay untouched. Her life was hers alone now and she would ensure that she didn’t need their financial support too, soon.

“Oh, he looks old!” was her first reaction when she saw him. A smile played on his lips after spotting her but he guardedly let it pass. He wore a white t-shirt and faded blue jeans with a half-sleeved olive-green pullover. His grey hair, wrinkled skin, and slight hunch were a clear giveaway that his sunset years hadn’t been kind to him. Only when he adjusted his bifocals and walked in gingerly, did she notice his walking cane. Instantly, daughter instincts took over and she walked up to him and delicately held his arm as they made it to their table.

“You look good, Mitthu.” He said happily as they settled down. She blushed involuntarily and thanked him but added quickly, “This is Mom’s saree, she said she doesn’t need it.” “I know, I gifted it to her on our first anniversary.” He said. An awkward silence followed as they wondered what to say and was broken by the same screaming toddler. Her father tried again, “Mitthu, thanks for agreeing to see me. Life’s unpredictable. I could be here today and gone tomorrow. An old man craves the company of his loved ones. I know we disappointed you. You had a beautiful home and one day it suddenly crashed like a house of cards. It’s unforgivable but I’m proud of what you’ve achieved professionally. I hope you had married, though I’m not the best person to advise.”

Miffed with being treated like a child still, Mitali burst out quietly. “Are you looking for repentance now, Dad? You both never bothered to tell me what happened, but I knew. I came early from college and heard you two fight. You cheated on Mom and she refused to stay with you under the same roof. How could you, Dad? Couldn’t you be a man and face the consequences of your actions? At least you could’ve owned up to them. But you ruined our lives for it. She never cried for you but I’m sure she was devastated. You’re so selfish!”

Stunned and hurt he replied, “Oh my Mitthu, is that what you think? You know what they say about half-truths. How do I give you the complete picture without sounding vengeful? My dear, it wasn’t me who strayed, if I may put it that way. It was your mother. She had a..umm…close relationship with an old lady friend and I ran into them earlier that day.” Mitali ferociously objected but he pleaded, “Wait, please let me finish. I have to get it off my chest. It has been many years and I cannot share this with anyone else. Her friend must’ve left a while before you arrived, I guess. Yes, I was enraged but I wanted to work on our marriage. She wanted out. It was her idea to keep you in the hostel too. She didn’t say it out loud but I knew. You were too upset to live with either of us anyway.”

Mitali felt the café walls close in on her as realization dawned upon her. She mentally went through that day’s events and gathered that she had held him responsible with prejudice. Her flawed perspective had painted him the house-breaker he wasn’t. He had stood by her mother and kept her secret safe. Indeed, she remembered the lady friend he was talking about. She had seen her during her occasional visits to her mother. They were visibly close and Mom smiled gaily whenever she was around.

She looked at him regrettably, her vision blurred by the tears collected in her eyes. This was a bitter pill to swallow but she had to. He gently held her hand. “Dad, I don’t..” she said haltingly but he stopped her, “I understand, Mitthu. Your mother was in love and never remarried, as you’re aware. I couldn’t bring myself to do it again either. You weren’t supposed to know all this but you’re mature now and deserve to be kept in the loop. We’ve both kept in touch but not for the world. She’s happy and that’s all that matters. Shall we respect her privacy and not tell her yet, please?”

Mitali nodded understandingly. She wiped her eyes with her father’s handkerchief and smiled. “It’s been a while since I’ve stepped foot here. I preferred their special filter coffee. Since when do you have cold coffee? You were my Bournvita girl!” he chided her playfully. Mitali grinned, “Dad, times have changed. Our lives have turned upside down, what harm will trying a cold coffee do? By the way, the cold coffee I make is definitely better than this. We can go to my place if you like. There’s a lot we need to catch up on. What else has Mom told you about me and since when do you wear bifocals anyway?”

This post was created for the Blogaberry Creative (Monthly) Challenge

This post is a part of ‘Out and About Blog Hop’ hosted by Manali Desai and Sukaina Majeed

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Dr. Preeti Chauhan.

© This site A Vibrant Palette is the property of Varsha Bagadia. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Varsha Bagadia and A Vibrant Palette with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

54 thoughts on “Coffee and Memories

  1. How certain things affect relationships in family! That’s the problem, in fact. The solution would be acceptance of one’s sexual orientation in time so that unwanted complications in life can be prevented.

    However, your story ends on a positive note which is consoling.

  2. Relationship – sometimes turn so complicated that we really get confused about what exactly is true and what not. Sexual orientation should be a subject taught even in school for better understanding of such issues. A brilliant story Varsha

  3. The eye-opening twist for Mitthu is pretty well narrated in your story. I loved the story throughout and yes half truths most often lead to misunderstanding. It is better said than hidden

  4. I really liked the way you began the story with the detailed description of the character and the place. It’s interesting how the clothes we wear are also a part of our memory bank.

  5. It’s really sad how we penalize each other for things that are not in our control. I loved the opening scene and the way you delicately detailed what Mitali was wearing.

  6. Your story is beautifully crafted and deeply engaging. The vivid descriptions of Mitali’s appearance and the café create a rich, immersive setting. The way you weave past and present seamlessly captures the reader’s attention and evokes empathy for Mitali’s emotional turmoil. The twist revealing the true nature of her parents’ separation is both surprising and poignant, adding depth to the characters and their relationships. The dialogue is natural and heartfelt, effectively conveying the unresolved pain and gradual reconciliation. Your story masterfully explores themes of misunderstanding, forgiveness, and the complexity of family dynamics.

  7. Reading your story brought a feeling of deja vu… I had written a similar story for another blog hop. Your story is beautifully crafted and your detailing is masterly. I enjoyed reading it. Relationships can be complex, can’t they?

  8. In the world of relationships, coffee plays a surprising and often overlooked role in fostering intimacy and strengthening the bonds between individuals. Beyond its role as a beloved beverage, coffee can be a catalyst for meaningful conversations, shared moments, and deeper connections.

  9. Lovely story, and that stereotyping people and situations is one of the most common mistakes we make has come through so beautifully in your tale. I loved the father character, such a wonderful man indeed!

  10. Varsha, your post has evoked deep emotions and captures the complexity of family relationships. Mitali’s journey through memories, revelations, and reconciliations is profoundly moving. A reminder of the importance of understanding and communication in healing past wounds. A touching story of rediscovery and mending bonds.

  11. Mitali’s story is a poignant journey through memories and emotions that beautifully captures the complexities of family dynamics and the passage of time. Her carefully chosen attire and meticulous attention to detail reflect a woman of grace and resilience, navigating the bittersweet moments of life. Mitali’s evolution, from a daughter burdened by her misconceptions to one who seeks to mend the broken ties, is both touching and inspiring.

  12. Lovely story. Sometimes parents try to protect their children and it backfires. I liked how you used the prompt in the story.

  13. Oh man what a way to find out. We never stop to think what queer people have to struggle with internally at keeping thier indentities secret just to adhere to societal expectations. Broken famlies, trust issues and self hate and what not. and you know this situation, its so hard to paint anyone the bad guy. Should we see Mithali’s mum as the bad guy because of the affair? When she probably had been a victim of society’s expectations? I don’t know. It’s just a complicated thing for many queer peole out there in the world.

    1. Don’t think anyone can be the bad guy. The mother couldn’t change who she was and her father didn’t force her to and respected her choices. Mitali was probably too young to understand t back then but she can now.

  14. What a lovely story, Varsha. Loved the way you described her saree and the rest of the conversation as well. It is a visual treat, actually. How a life can turn topsy-turvy for a child of estranged parents! I wish kids never go through this trauma either by divorce or by losing a parent. My kids were at least teenagers, but my grandsons are way too young to have lost their dad.

  15. I like the way the story progresses. Sometimes, we judge people and misunderstand while the other person is innocent. sad. But I’m glad the father understood and gave the mother her space and privacy–a rare trait in most people.

  16. Oh dear. That took a different turn than I expected. I thought the father would turn out to be gay. That’s the mark of your good storytelling skills. Also, how heartwarming it was to read a reconciled father-daughter relationship. Uff! Dil gadgad ho gaya ❤️️

    1. This was such a beautiful tale. Relationships are indeed complicated and love is such a strange thing

    2. Thank you so much, Manali! I like stories with twists but which don’t leave you with a bitter aftertaste. Kuch to accha hona chahiye duniya mein.

  17. I personally don’t like reading/watching this kind of stories. Despite knowing that this kind of relationships happen in real life, I chose to put this out of my thoughts/vocabulary. Don’t get me wrong, I totally respect and feel compassionate about those affected by this kind of situations especially the children who doesn’t know anything.

  18. What a beautiful story Varsha. I feel so sorry for Mitthu and her dad, they lost out on so many years of time together… esp. the dad for no fault of his but just cuz of a choice he made… if only!…
    Btw, the story is really deserving of the win. 👏👏👏

  19. Your story, “Coffee and Memories,” is beautifully crafted and deeply evocative. The way you intertwine Mitali’s past and present, along with the vivid descriptions, makes the narrative come alive. The emotional journey and the poignant twist were truly touching.

  20. Beautiful story. Sometimes we imagine things that seem to be obvious. The twist in the story turned the direction of our thoughts.
    * Reminded me of Madhuri Dixit’s Maja Ma on Prime Video. Do watch.

    1. I’ve watched Maja Ma and liked how the issue was addressed in it. Wish people had more maturity but for one good there are two bad always.

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