"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan




n.b: This is roughly a continuation of the fiction from previous two posts.


Nobody knew his antecedents. Gossip made him smell like a drifter; like he had a family which he left behind and now lives anonymously. Apparently when asked he would give wayward and inconsistent details. Some felt he was trying to hide his past while some said he was having a bout of Alzheimer's. He visited the coffee joint almost daily and precisely took the corner table overlooking the busy street. He always ordered a refill and kept peeping at the street like he was expecting someone. Strangely though, he never looked at the people entering the cafe! His accent was heavily southern so the waiter boys called him 'Annan'. I whipped a dash of pun on it and called him 'Coffee Annan'.

Coffee Annan had a class about him - his trimmed peppery grey french beard, throaty voice, thoroughbred manners while ordering and always a cashmere shawl wrapped around his neck pointed to some noble ilk that he was brought up into. Though he took two extra spoons of sugar in his coffee, he always stirred it without clinking. If there was a stray leaf being blown around by the street wind, he would watch until it flew out of sight. Excessive honking irritated him, but calm would return on his face with the next sip. Occassionally he would appear in the company of Mr.BB, the almost deaf retired bank manager who would plainly nod at whatever Mr.Annan said to him. It was hard to picture Coffee Annan as a person trying to hide his identity, maybe he was just not sure of it or maybe he was still searching for it... like a wandering cloud that keeps changing its shape and never sure if it is supposed to rain down or just whiff away with the wind.

This morning I had got up with a feeling that I had a task yet to be accomplished. Even after breakfast, the thought would not leave me. Coffee sometimes made me remember things in a flash so I headed straight to the cafe. At the cafe I saw Mr.Annan and Mr.BB again. As usual, there was nothing animated about them. I had to kill this yearning inside me so I decided to seat myself next to Mr.Annan's table so I could hear them speak and hence, forget my nagging thoughts.. 

Coffee Annan spoke in his baritone, "Our minds are our biggest weakness. Though we blame our five senses for distracting us constantly, the mind is their driver, their epicenter. As long as one is a slave of the mind, one will succumb to irresistible thoughts. We cannot live in solitude because our minds are so attached to civilization. Detachment is so required precisely to tame our minds. With the pretext of social living our minds start interconnecting with other minds and create a web of collective intelligence, which keeps our individuality entrapped. I sometimes feel our minds have a life of their own and we are mere puppets. But then if my mind is not me, then who am I? what exactly is my identity then? Do you know Mr.BB?". BB felt Annan was offering him another spoon of sugar and he nodded. Annan continued, "I had recently read a nice article on the three holistic levels of our perception. They called it Intelligence Quotient, Emotional Quotient and Spiritual Quotient. Did you read yesterday's newspaper Mr.BB?"

Alas! At that very moment it flashed right across to me. I was supposed to sift through my newspapers to read the article on Buddha Gautama. I gulped down my coffee and darted back home. While running back I  noticed Coffee Annan looking at me.. with the same look that he watches those leaves drifting aimlessly in the wind!
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