He stood by the window as the approaching dusk began to spill maroon on the white mountains. The room was small, a typical one-bed hotel room. A laptop sat on the bed with a cursor blinking on a blank page and an empty cup was resting down on the floor. At an age of early fourties some strands of white appeared in between his trimmed beard. His belly protruded a bit stretching the grey t-shirt he wore. The man stood still with a calm face tracing the mountain ridges along its length. In no time, he grabbed his jacket from the hanger by the door and walked out of the hotel room.
The evening air carried chill from the mountains and the city seemed to be prepared already for the imminent winter. Commuters were walking with their warm apparels and the shelves of the clothing stores were full of woolen and thicker varieties. Strolling down to the city centre, clad in his black jacket, the man could not ignore the strong smell of coffee and he soon took a refuge in one of his frequented cafés.
The café was almost occupied with only a few vacant seats available. He walked slowly between the table gaps and took a seat at a corner. A thin looking boy wearing a blue shirt and a yellow cap with a logo of the café approached him and took the order. Talks and coffee aroma filled the space while some laughter and screeching of coffee machine could be heard every now and then. The man looked around and observed the people busy with their talks and musings. There were some familiar faces; the frequent visitors like the man himself. A lady sitting with some people waved at the man as he was scanning his surroundings. He made no mistake recognizing her; they had good talks over coffee table a couple of times before. She parted herself from the group and joined the man.
“Nice to see you” The lady spoke.
The man smiled back and nodded, and at the same time the boy arrived with a mug full of black coffee.
“A cappuccino for me” She said looking at the boy.
“Ah, as usual huh?” The man inquired.
“Yeah, as usual” She replied.
The lady looked younger than the man and a distinct tattoo ran down her neck starting just below her left ear disappearing beneath the brown sweat shirt she wore.
“So, any progress?” She asked looking at the man who was busy stirring sugar in his coffee.
“No. To be honest, not even a single word”
“I think you need to change the place, may be it will help”
“It’s not about place or anything. It’s almost three weeks I am here. It hasn’t worked”
The boy appeared again, this time with a white porcelain cup and placed it gently on the wooden table in front of the lady.
“What does it mean?” The man asked all of a sudden. “Your tattoo” He added.
The lady looked a bit surprised with the course change of the talk.
“And you want me to read it” The man jested.
“I wish you could, but I can translate it for you” She slightly giggled and added, “It says, Freedom”
“FREEDOM” The man repeated the word followed by a sip of coffee and mused for a while.
“Is there something?” The lady asked.
“Yes, perhaps a coincidence, it is freedom that I am lacking” The man said.
“But aren’t you free? I mean, you are writing for your own, no deadlines, no hassles.”
“Yes, but there is something more.”
People kept on coming in and going out and the thin looking boy in his yellow cap moved around taking orders. It was already dark outside and the two decided to leave the café.
A ten-minute walk from the café would lead to the lake, which was popular among the visitors. The lake reflected the red and yellow city lights, and the constant breeze would disturb the water trying to mix the colours. They sat on a bench overlooking the lake and its glittering water. The prevalent serenity definitely contrasted with the bustling café.
“It was never so difficult before, always seemed so easy and simple.” The man said. And after a pause added, “I have written a hundred times before but never felt so empty, so dry; nothing to pour out.”
“Did something happen?” The lady asked.
“May be it did. I now realize that the monk was correct.” He spoke while staring at the ripples on the lake. The lady didn’t interrupt him as he continued, “It’s easy to live in and speak out the usual, the repetitions, but to see beyond that, to create something new is darn difficult.”
TO BE CONTINUED…