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And that’s the way the cookie crumbled

And that’s the way the cookie crumbled

by Devakee Rahalkar

“Just one hour more”, Juhi muttered to herself as she tried to get up from her seat yet again in an effort to end one of the most boring meetings of her life. Her clients finally seemed to be done with their lengthy last-minute directives and were saying their goodbyes.

It had been a long day at the end of a tiring week and Juhi was exhausted! Being in continuous meetings since morning, she was done with her quota of talking to people for the entire week. She was happily looking forward to entering the sanctum of her small one bedroom flat, ordering some comfort food, a long hot shower and bingeing on her new favourite series on Netflix.

Just 40 minutes more and she would be home!

Juhi dashed to her car via the back door to avoid a cluster of her co-workers who were stepping out for a drink. She stopped by her neighbourhood grocery store to stock up on junk food for the weekend. Avoiding any potentially friendly glances, lest she ran into an acquaintance inviting pointless chit-chat.

Juhi knew she could seem like an odd duck to some. A classic introvert, she routinely took extreme measures to avoid social interactions. She was happy to talk to strangers if it involved her work and loved spending quality time with chosen friends. It was the big parties, making small talk and new introductions that she found to be mentally draining.

Her lack of a social life was a constant source of worry for her mother, but Juhi was not too keen to change her hermit lifestyle.

Almost there! Another 5 minutes and she could step out of her high heels onto the soft carpet of her home. Just as Juhi was exiting the elevator, her phone trilled. Expecting it to be a daily call from her mother, she picked up.

“Its FRIIIIDAY!!!!”, Lata, her best friend since school, shrieked into the phone. Juhi groaned, cursing herself for not screening her calls.

“I have had a hellish week and you are coming out with me. It is a done deal! You cannot avoid every Friday evening outing”, Lata prattled on without giving Juhi a chance to refuse. She knew Juhi’s introverted tendencies too well.

“Sorry, I have a hot date with Netflix, pizza and some chocolate”, Juhi countered, as she entered her flat and collapsed on her sofa.

“You are 28. Single. You need to go out and interact with flesh-and-blood humans before your mother gets serious about opening that matrimonial profile”, Lata admonished.

“You need to stop gossiping with my mother. And I haven’t met anyone recently who is yummier than Capt. Ri on Netflix,” Juhi contested.

“I was planning to explore that new bakery on 10th Road tonight with some friends – the one with those delicious drool-worthy pastries in the window”, said Lata. Sneakily trying to exploit Juhi’s one weakness – chocolate desserts.

“Um…”, Juhi briefly reconsidered before sinking deeper into her sofa and pleading out.

Three hours later, after gouging on pepperoni pizza and wrapping up another season of her favourite K-Drama, Juhi picked up her phone to scroll Instagram.

“Damn it Lata!”, she muttered as she saw her friend post a photo of a delicious looking chocolate pastry and tagging the bakery on 10th Road.

It looked absolutely scrumptious! 

15 minutes later, the picture of that chocolate pastry was still firing all indulgent neurons in Juhi’s brain. She reluctantly pulled on her jeans, ran a brush through her hair and grabbed her wallet to make a quick trip to the pastry shop.

“After an entire week of healthy eating and demanding clients, I need that pastry!”, she justified to herself on the drive to 10th road.

Entering the bakery, she stood at the display window, devouring all the tasty delicacies with her eyes. Trying to lock down  her sugar-fix for the evening.

“I would recommend the Oreo cookie crumble for you”, came a deep voice behind her.

She straightened up to look for the source of this unsolicited advice, and found herself looking into a pair of warm brown twinkling eyes.

“Oh my god, Adi!”, Juhi exclaimed as she recognised her old friend.

Pulling her into a swift hug, Adi beamed down at Juhi. She felt a burst of joy in her heart upon seeing that familiar grin again.

She knew Adi had moved back to Mumbai recently, but had never made an effort to reach out. Juhi and Adi had been close during the last three years at school. She had a crush on Adi back then, and had always idly wondered if it had been anything worth exploring. They moved to different cities for higher studies and subsequent jobs and had lost touch over the last decade.

In their years apart, Adi had grown from a tall lanky boy into an extremely attractive man. Juhi was thankful she had made an effort to wear her favorite jeans and at least comb her hair before stepping out.

All her weariness forgotten, she was excited to catch up with Adi. They sat in the café, with 2 cappucinos and a plate of Oreo cookie crumble between them – talking, exchanging stories and laughing over old memories late into the night, till the café shutters closed.

Juhi woke up in a good mood the next morning. Adi was single, funny and interested in her. They had planned a lunch date later in the day. She was excited about dressing up and going out after a long time.

Wanting to share this foreign feeling with her best friend, she dialled Lata’s number. A pre-recorded message in Kannada told her Lata’s phone was busy.

“Strange!”, she thought.

Lata often travelled to Bengaluru for work, but she had called last night with an offer to hang out. And had she not checked-in at the same café on 10th road a few hours before Juhi?!

Call you in sometime”, Lata messaged.

Where are you?! Did you not get back from Bengaluru this week?”, Juhi responded.

Busted! I hope the conversations around Oreo cookie crumble were worth all my hard work”, Lata texted back cheekily.

You are such a liar!”, Juhi messaged, astounded by her friend’s elaborate scheme to manufacture a dream date for her.

Yes, but a bloody brilliant one. That is why you love me”, came the reply.

Yes, I do love you. THANK YOU! You are the best! :X”, Juhi fondly acknowledged.

Smiling, Juhi sent a quick prayer of thanks to the gods and got up eagerly. She had a lunch date to get ready for.

Photo credit: Tishima Reid, on Pinterest

This story was written as part of the Writer’s Gym, an ongoing program open to those who have attended Rashmi Bansal’s Short Story Writing Workshop.

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7 thoughts on “And that’s the way the cookie crumbled

  1. Lovely story. The introvert side of Juhi, her addiction to Netflix, love for pastries and her choice of being in touch with a select few friends – all very well narrated !!

  2. It’s realistic simplicity is the string point of this story. Loved reading it!

  3. The story is narrated in such a way that it makes the readers interesting and exciting. The readers will definitely lost them somewhere in the story.

  4. Such a cute story – specially the twist in the end!! Wish everyone has friends like Lata

  5. What a nice, relatable story with a bit of a sugar and spice that make serendipitous romantic stories such delectable reads! Thoroughly enjoyed reading this one! Also now Im craving for some Oreo Crumble 😀

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