From the Table to the Counter
The Reader’s Home was one of those few places in the city where Dhristi felt content. The dimly lit space with her secluded table, bookshelves around, and the sweet-bitter aroma in the air always gave her reassurance that it was okay to be a boring old-school in the world of trending Instagram reels.
It was during one of her visits that Dhristi found something different. She noticed someone new behind the counter and that caught her attention in a way that there was no going back. Have you ever seen something so beautiful that you cannot keep your eyes off it? The person was a rendition of that beauty. It was that smile that made it hard for her to keep her eyes on the book.
Every time she looked up, she saw that face which made her forget her surroundings for a tiny moment. She spent five hours at the Home that evening and yet couldn’t read more than three paragraphs of her book. It was one of those rare times when she felt like sixteen while she kept stealing glances at the counter. Traveling back to her four walls at the end of the day, she knew she was doomed as the face was going to linger in her mind for a long time.
The next few weeks were a socially awkward rom-com of Dhristi’s life. She visited the Home more often than usual and hid her face behind the pages whenever she saw that smile at the counter. She wanted to talk to the person like an infatuated teenager but used to get flustered even if their eyes met for a nanosecond. And sometimes, when the person interacted with her as a part of their usual visitor interactions, she found herself blabbering involuntarily. After all, when has anyone been able to act normal around their crushes?
After months of being weird, Drishti finally bottled up the courage to start a conversation (read: send a follow request on Instagram). As the chitter-chatter progressed, she discovered it wasn’t just the smile that was beautiful. The person had a good heart, a sense of humor, and the skill to sweep anyone off their feet. But most importantly, she felt she might eventually find a friend from this escapade. In 23 years, all Dhristi could find were five other weirdos who accepted her despite her alienated existence. It was after meeting this new face that she felt she could add one more name to her Sacred List of Friends.
Besides the occasional hangouts, on and off flirting, teasing, and gazing, the person was always a listener to her constant cribbing. What usually took her years to talk about in front of her friends, were a piece of cake to share when the person was around. How often do you find a crush who has the potential of becoming your friend? While she was still smitten by that smile, she was grateful to come across a human as beautiful as this one.
It is funny how unexpectedly we find people we don’t even know we need. This new face turned out to be that bitter-sweet gift for Dhristi from the Home. She still shares those tiny moments of laughter with the person. And yet once again, she steals glances from her table to the counter.