It was a Friday evening. Shreya sat at the usual spot. The small coffee shop overlooking the beach in Bandra. She used to love coming here. Hers was a fun group, filled with the ones who she went to college with. Two boys and three girls. A five musketeers of sorts, she remembered.
It had been three years since she came to that place. She finished her graduation in Bombay and decided to move to the UK to pursue her masters. The others in the group branched out as well, all in their separate ways. Though there were a million social networking sites in the offing, none of them were in touch and had absolutely no clue what the others were up to. It was Abhay who had sent everyone a mail a couple of months back asking for a reunion of sorts. The mails had started pouring in after that, but Abhay didn't respond to a single one after the time and place was fixed. It was to be Friday the 27th of June, in Cafe Brew- Bandra.
Shreya had finished her final paper presentation and she had three months before she had her graduation ceremony. So she decided to come home and spend time with her parents and also to meet up with the musketeers. As she sat at Cafe Brew, she noticed people running for cover. The monsoon had just hit Bombay and it was beautiful. The waves making breathtaking patterns and the force with which it came onto the shore. She saw school girls in tiny skirts crossing the road with such care, so as to not get their shiny black shoes wet. The crazy motorists who didn't bother slowing down and splashing puddles of water overflowing the roads onto stunned passersby.
The sky was dark and gloomy. The weather had a chillness to it. She loved Bombay, especially during the monsoon. There was such romance in the air. There was such joy. The city always came alive during this kind of a weather, she said to herself. She ordered her lemon tea. She was not a coffee person and she remembered how Abhay, a hardcore coffee drinker and lover, used to always tease her about that and how he had offered to make her some lovely coffee that would leave her mesmerized and begging for more when they meet again sometime in the future. Thinking about that made her smile even more. She noticed a young couple sitting under the giant umbrella whispering sweet nothings into each others ears and laughing. She noticed how the guy had his hands gently wrapped around her shoulders to keep her warm.
The coffee shop was packed, since people came in to take shelter from the rain. A slightly old gentleman walked upto her and asked if he could take the chair that was vacant in her table. She smiled and gestured to him to come take a seat. The man, she thought should he in his early 60's. Dressed in a crisp white shirt and grey trousers. She saw his silver hair and pepper grey beard. He introduced himself and began talking. From the conversation, she inferred that he was a writer working on the story for a film and he was to meet someone here a little later in the evening. But since his work had gotten over early, he decided to get to this place before it started raining heavily. She nodded and listened to his words. She also told him about her reason of being at the coffee shop. As they were talking two more girls and a guy from the musketeer group landed there and the old gentleman, just smiled at the group and told them to have fun and moved on to another empty table on the other side of the coffee shop.
The group then exchanged pleasantries and laughed and sighed in unison like excited school kids on their very first picnic to a zoo. They had so much to talk about and everyone wouldn't let the other person finish. They sat around indulging in more coffee, more gossip and the chocolate fudge when they saw a familiar face walking slowly towards the coffee shop drenched in the rain. The person didn't bother running for cover but with such elegance slowly evading the puddles on the road and walking towards their table. The group let out a collective sigh. It was Abhay. They couldn't believe their eyes. He looked thin, pale and weak, but he still had the best smile in town. Everyone ran towards him and hugged him. Abhay stood there with the rest of the musketeers hugging them close and smiling.
The group walked back towards the table and while the others went ahead, Abhay walked towards the old gentleman and whispered something in his ears. The old man smiled and patted him on the shoulders. Abhay ran his fingers in his hair to brush off the rain and smiled once again. Abhay was the most talkative person in the group. Everytime he started talking there was no stopping him. Everyone knew that and hence as soon as he came and sat in his chair they looked at him and Karan the other guy in the group, took out his wristwatch and placed it on the table and said, "GO. Your time starts now", the others as soon as they heard it began laughing. Abhay smiled gently and mumbled something that the others couldn't pick up. They leaned forward and asked him to repeat it again. Abhay then said, "My time's almost up guys" and he smiled. No one knew what he was talking about and they thought he was just kidding. Karan, then taking the cue from the other women decided to talk. "Do you have a meeting or something"?, he asked. Abhay then looked into the sea, the road and sighed. "Yes, I need to meet Mr.Mathur, the gentleman sitting in that table", as he pointed his finger towards the table. Mr.Mathur saw this and waved a friendly hi towards the group. Shreya, waved back and said that she had met him while she was waiting for everyone.
"Oh, so you're into movies now eh? Awesome. Never knew an engineer from our batch would end up in movies. So are you acting or...", shreya shrieked with excitement.
"Am not acting. Don't think I can pull off the running around trees really", Abhay joked and the others laughed.
"I have written a story that I need to discuss with him", he said.
The group sat up on their table and paid attention. "WoW, dude. That's amazing, so what kind of story is this"?, asked Karan.
"It's my story guys", Abhay said and took a sip of water.
Shreya called the waiter and ordered a hot cup of coffee for Abhay, for which Abhay just shook his head and cancelled the order.
"WHAT. The biggest coffee lover saying NO to coffee", everyone in the group said in unison.
"I'm not allowed to drink coffee. The doctors have told me that", he said.
The moment the group heard this, everyone went quiet. What was he talking about? Not allowed to drink coffee? Doctor's advice? This was getting extremely serious.
"Dude. What the hell is wrong with you?", Karan barked.
"Well", Abhay took a long breath and started talking. "I have a very rare kind of cancer that has affected my brain. The doctors have tried everything and looks like they don't have a clue. Am dying guys. Am dying. Just wanted to see the four people who mean the world to me before I die", Abhay said and a tear drop gently trickled down on his chin.
No one knew how to react. It was all just sudden. It was shocking. I mean, it was Abhay. How could Abhay have such a disease?
"It's my story that Mr. Mathur is working on and he wants to make a movie out of it. I wanted him to", Abhay said softly.
"I love you all. Forgive me guys", Abhay said.
The group just hugged him and stayed that way.
It was a Friday evening. Not just another Friday evening for everyone in that table.