It was his sixth coffee, third magazine and a millionth peep through the glass door of the café.
It was their fifth anniversary and he was going to propose to her for marriage. But it has been 2 hours now and she hadn’t turned up yet. He has started to lose some of the happiness and courage that he felt before. The diamond ring resting in his pocket felt 10 times heavier and the plan that he had been making since a week seemed more wrong and stupid by the minute. He wanted to run away but then her face flashed in his mind and he froze there in his seat. Sure, he was afraid of committing. But what’s the big deal, he thought. Her sweet yet coy smile (which made him go weak in his knees) playing in his mind made him realize that she’s the only one he’s ever going to love. So why get scared now? Why run away? Why not let this be the big step towards their happy ending?
But she hadn’t come yet. The waiter had come again to clear his table and take his order for yet another coffee.
“Will you need one more, sir?” the waiter looked at the rose on the table and his expression turned sympathetic.
She is going to come. It’ has always been her habit. When has she ever come on time, anyways? An hour here and there doesn’t matter. But he couldn’t deny the fact that this was the longest she had kept him waiting.
He couldn’t call her. He couldn’t bear to hear some excuse that she’ll make and cancel the meeting. It has taken a lot of courage to get to this decision. One change and it’ll set him back a long way in their relationship. He had to do it today because he knew that if he didn’t do it today, he’ll never be able to do it again.
“Just this last. She’s just on her way”, he said, more to himself than to the waiter.
He switched to another magazine. 10th peep through the glass door in 30 seconds.
Suddenly, realization hit him. God, so stupid of me! She’s not coming because she has already realized I’m going to propose and she’s not ready. Or maybe she doesn’t want to marry me at all and she doesn’t want to break my heart by rejecting me on my face; negative thoughts had taken permanent residence in his mind. Her face flashed in his mind again. Agony engulfed him.
He called for the bill. “She’ll come, sir. Why don’t you wait for another 5 minutes?” said the waiter.
He just smiled at him. Sadness totally pronounced in it. He wanted to go home, where he could cry without feeling embarrassed. He wanted to be alone. Just when he paid the bill and made to get up, she came. She was drenched from head to toe, due to the torrential rain pouring outside, and her expression was that of apology.
She ran towards him, kissed him on the cheek and reasoned her lateness. He didn’t care. Funny how just a mere sight of her could send a solid current of electricity though him and make his insides burn with joy. All the negativity, fear, cowardice – her presence had dissolved everything.
He felt like an idiot for even entertaining thoughts of separation. Her kiss, her apology and her most all, her presence were proof that she loved him too.
Nothing mattered then. He removed the ring from his pocket, bent down on one knee in front of everyone in the café and proposed to her then and there, the motto ‘now or never’ running through his head.
Her mouth was hanging open in shock, her hand frozen in mid-air.
“Will you marry me” he asked with all the confidence that he could muster.
“Now he says”, she laughed, teary-eyed(it made her look even more beautiful) “I thought I’d have to wait until we’d be 60.”
He got up. They hugged and made to leave. Just then the waiter went running towards them, “you forgot the rose, sir.” The waiter gave the rose to her, said “Congratulations”, winked at him and gave him a thumbs-up in farewell.