I do most of my writing at a coffee house known as the Casablanca. On the walls is that kind of dark wood panelling that gives the interior a warm feeling. The casual coffee drinkers that come to visit immediately feel at ease. Conversations are easily started and the coffee, when it comes, is twice as tasty as anywhere else in town.
It is said around here that no one ever leaves the Casablanca with negative thoughts in his mind.
At the far end of the large room is a bar where many regulars sit and enthusiastically discuss matters of the day with some gossip thrown in here and there.
If, however, you were sitting at this bar alone you would be able to study the many jars of coffee standing on shelves on the back wall. They are filled with coffee beans from all corners of the world.
My favourite is Arabica. I quite firmly believe that it boosts my creativity by several power leaps. As I said, I'm a writer and I'm convinced that my total absence of writer's block is due to that Arabian bean.
Now back to the large spacious interior. Due to an architectural idiosyncrasy there is a nook near the front door. Now that?s where I sit. It's become known to all that come here that that corner table is mine.
It?s like the table in The Cheshire Cheese where Dickens carved his name. From that table, I could see everyone that walked in without them necessarily seeing me. I liked it that way. After all, as a writer, I?m also an observer.
Then came that memorable moment. It happened on what had promised to be a typical day while I was deep in thought. I was thinking about a difficult scene in my latest book when she walked in. A young girl.
I really only saw her from the back me by the time I saw her but it was enough for me to drop my pen and push my papers aside.
She had walked directly to the bar counter where she sat down looking somewhat nervous. I felt compelled to walk over as well and sit down about three stools away from her. As I stole a glance at her I noticed her drab clothing and her drooping shoulders. I was not sure why I decided to be near her.
As I was looking sideways at her she seemed to explode. By that I mean she had burst into a constellation of bright sparkles. Yes, I mean that. I saw a myriad of tiny multi-coloured lights.
It was the very first time that I had ever seen a person's aura. I can tell you now that it's not just a haze of colours like halos around the person. No, it's like a breathtaking display of miniscule stars. What's more, these lights send out flickers of knowledge to you. Within a micro-second you are able to know everything about that person. All the feelings kept hidden from others in the depths of the person's soul.
First of all I was stunned. Then I felt this compulsion to move nearer to her but I did leave one empty stool between us. Pedro, the owner, came to me and I ordered an Arabica, of course. I stared fixedly at my cup for a while.
When I looked at her she was doing the same. Staring fixedly at her cup. Acting quite compulsively, I slid my hand across the counter towards her. When my hand had reached halfway to her I gave her a tentative smile and began to speak to her.
"Hi. I have to talk to you, you know."
She kept on looking at her cup with intent interest. After she had taken a sip, she spoke very softly.
"Must you? Why don't you go and chat up someone else?"
"Look, I simply have to tell you something. I can't seem to help it."
Her staring at her cup never wavered. She spoke without looking at me at all.
"You know that that is a really corny come on line. Can't you see that this is a coffee bar and not a singles bar?"
I don't know where my words came from. I only heard myself say them.
"I think that it's time for a twice divorced woman with a child should discuss her problems with some one."
She immediately turned towards me and I saw the fire in her eyes but I also managed to see the anguish behind her glare.
"What the hell are you talking about. How dare you? Are you some sort of psychostalker?"
I ignored her outburst.
"There's more I'm afraid. You were also abused by both those men. Not so?"
Now her eyes were really blazing.
"Look why don't you pay up and go away. Otherwise I'll have to go. If you want to dwell in my past why don't you go and see some horror movie?"
I continued to speak but I don't now recall what I was saying. The words just flowed from me. I began to feel that I had somehow become an agent. A messenger serving some unknown power.
Incredibly, as I spoke, she began to listen to me with increasing awe. Her eyes livened up as she swung round to fully face me. Her hand reached out along the counter towards mine. Then she laughed. You know, I think that I was the first person to hear her laugh in months.
No wait! I do remember something. That was when Pedro came to refill our cups and our ethereal spell was broken. During that short interruption, I heard myself making a prophesy. As I spoke, she listened to the promise in my voice with the eagerness of a child.
"There's a young man out there who is searching for you. However he can't find you because you are lost in a mist."
"Yes, all victims are covered in a mist. That's why people don't reach out to them. They make themselves invisible."
"So how can I get rid of this mist? Can you tell me that?"
"Easy. First you decide not to be a victim. Get into touch with your inner emotions. Look again at your earlier aims, your desires and your inner joys."
Pedro left us then and I once again became the mere messenger speaking words that I had never before said to anyone.
I remember her eventually leaving. I don't know what she gained from our conversation but there was now a jauntiness in her step.
It was about a month later that I saw her again. I looked up from my work and there she was. She looked radiant in blue slacks, a white top, a red waistcoat and a golden scarf. It was her eyes that told her story. They were sparkling.
"Wow! Is that you? It's incredible. You look like a ball of fire. Like the happiest woman in the world."
She smiled and looked down at me affectionately.
"Tell me first what your name is. I want to remember it."
"Oh, it's Feroso. And yours?"
"Feroso. What a beautiful name. Mine's Anshu, by the way. Here. Here's a present for you. Please open it up. I want to see your eyes when you do it."
I took a rectangular package from her hands and slowly unwrapped it. It did not take long for me to see that it was a very striking oil painting.
I saw done in vibrant colours, horses in a pasture. But nowhere in the world would you ever see such horses with such exciting colours.
They were blue, green and orange. They were all prancing and cavorting with their manes flowing. As they played, their bodies too on wild curvatures that no horse's skeleton would be able to do in real life.
I looked up from the painting to her. I had a broad smile. In fact, I was really laughing.
"Thank you, Anshu. This is so beautiful. This is a treasure. But tell me, where did you find these horses?"
"Oh Feroso. Wasn't it you that told me to get into touch with my emotions? Hmmmm?. That painting will always tell you how I felt deep down inside me when I made that painting."
"That's so wonderful, Anshu. As I look at this I can feel the joy that you had. This is a great moment. Come. Let's have some coffee."
"Some other time, dear Feroso. Someone's waiting for me. You see my mist has gone away. I'm nobody's victim anymore."