[ultimate_heading main_heading=”Short Story – Coffee House by Sanjoy Dutt” main_heading_color=”#1e73be” sub_heading_color=”#8224e3″ main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_font_size=”desktop:34px;” margin_design_tab_text=””]Issue XVIII | July 2016[/ultimate_heading][ultimate_spacer height=”20″]

Introduction to the Author:

Sanjoy Dutt storySanjoy Dutt, an engineer and linguist, is passionate about traveling to historical places. He has written travelogues and short stories for various magazines like The Statesman, Grihosova, Flash Fiction Magazine, Indus Woman Writing, Ashvamegh, The Red Morgue, Dreaming Big, to name a few.




“Good evening, sir, I have your favorite table reserved, like every Saturday,” The hunched Munna smiled beneath his thick gray mustache. His big heavy frame in the white coffee house uniform has stood the test of time. The white turban covered his almost hairless top.

Setu patted Munna’s back, “Good evening Munna. Forty years, you have never forgotten. Are the others here yet?”

“They are waiting for you at the table,” Munna smiled.

The old ‘Regal Coffee House’ looms large on the narrow busy street with slow traffic, countless bookstores, restaurants and thousands of walkers. The big hall buzzed with many people speaking. Coils of thick smoke and the strong smell of tobacco and coffee has always been there to greet the customers. The intellectuals, eminent writers, poets, and the nearby university students were the regulars.

Munna led Setu through the busy hall with a sea of people watching them to a round table by the window.

Sixty years old, medium built Setu, in his navy blue coat and hat from the sixties, gold-framed glasses, and walking cane had visited the coffee house every Saturday.  The coffee house too never refurbished in the four decades with its hazy white walls and old wooden furniture.   For forty years, Setu and his friends sat at the same table.

“What a surprise, Nikhil when did you arrive from Amsterdam? How is everything up there? Your Dutch wife and the children? We have maintained our regular Saturday rendezvouses in your absence, ha, ha,” Setu said.

Munna watched as Setu relaxed in his chair saying, “Moinul how is life?”

“Shall I bring your favorite chicken cutlet and coffee?” Munna interrupted.

“What about Nikhil, Moinul, Robert, and Uma? Take their orders too.”

“They had their coffee and cutlet before you arrived, sir.”

“What about another round of coffee with me friends? Munna, you know what I like?”

Three young college guys sitting at the next table paused their conversation on a football match and gazed surprisingly at Setu and Munna.

One of them leaned forth and whispered, “Heard that?”

“Strange,” the second said.

The third asked, “Are they mad?”

“Shh! just watch,” the first said.

Munna went to fetch the order.

“Did you obtain any news of Amal? Cancer will extinguish another of our brilliant friends. We all miss him so much.” Setu said, looking at Moinul.

The three young guys looked for Moinul’s reply which never came.

“Robert do you remember the jubilant Amal after receiving his first love letter? He wrote a poem expressing his joy and Uma tuned it and sung with you playing the guitar. What were the best lines? ‘My love never forget me’. Sadly, cancer took away all his happiness.”

The three youths shifted their gaze onto the empty Robert’s chair. They could not hear what Robert had to reply.

Munna came back with a tray of coffee mugs and kept it on the far side of the table from Setu.

“Munna do you remember Amal?”

“Yes, he liked my white turban,” Munna smiled, as he served Setu’s food and coffee.

“Sir, how is Ashok? Haven’t seen him in years,” Munna asked.

Setu’s voice trembled, “Poor Ashok! You remember him? He worked with a small publication. All was working well until his lover ditched him and married a rich businessman. Ashok ended up in a mental hospital. I have no news of his whereabouts.”

Setu took a sip of his coffee, lit a cigarette and emitted a thick curl of smoke, “During our college days meeting here was a necessity like eating or sleeping. We talked over and argued so much. All of us dreamed of a wonderful future in our youth, can’t forget those days.”

Setu kept himself busy speaking with his friends, “Uma do you still paint?”

One of the guys from the neighboring table stood up, peeked at the table and sat down, “All empty cups,” he whispered.

“The waiter is taking this insane man for a ride,” another stated.

They kept speculating about Setu, his mysterious associates and the waiter Munna amongst themselves in a low voice.

The grand clock in the hall struck 7 pm, Setu waved to Munna who knew about the indication. He was on his way to Setu’s table one of the young guys said, “Fooling an insane man?”

Munna stared at the youths, “He is not just a customer. Our friendship is forty years old.”

Munna delivered the bill to Setu, who looked surprised, “Why such a small bill?”

“They had already paid for their food,” Munna said.


“Before you arrived,”

Setu pulled out his wallet, paid the bill, stood up, “Friends, excuse me I have to use the restroom.”

After a few minutes, Setu returned to the table confused at the sight of the empty chairs and the mugs. He looked around and found Munna standing nearby observing him.

His eyes were moist and his voice trembled as he asked, “Munna, where did my friends go?”

“They had to leave in a hurry, but they promised to return next week.”

The three youths watched as Setu picked his way through the crowd to the exit as Munna walked with him.