Almost exactly two years ago today, Raisa, one of my most favourite people in the entire world, came in on the LIRR to help me pack up my office corner on Hanover Square.
The lights in the buildings came alive at our eye level as the sky grew darker, and the square below grew quieter with the day’s tourists and traders gathering around Stone St and deserting the faux British garden.
Preparing my hand over note for my successor took long enough that it was only around 9.30 PM that I realized that it was Eid, a religious holiday in the Muslim calendar, and although Raisa and I are self-confessed misfits as far as religion is concerned, we decided that we must celebrate by going out to our then favourite Italian garden restaurant, Alchemy, which is located on the corner of Dean and 5th Avenue in Park Slope for all you foodies.
We got last call, and after some delicious ragu with veal and parmesan shavings, Raisa looked at me and said, “All I need in life at the moment, is some chocolate lava cake.”
“With vanilla icecream,” I added.
Looking at my watch revealed that the chocolaterie down the block was already closed for the night, and with that, the hope for confections too- as Alchemy’s staff also suggested that the kitchen was closed.
Cursing our bad luck, we got ready to pay and walk back to my apartment, when all of a sudden, the waiter, who seemed to have noticed our crestfallen faces, came back, and said, “But we do have one last chocolate lava cake left.”
Raisa and I must have looked ecstatic, because the waiter looked at our faces, and asked tentatively, “Are you both okay?”
“Yes, we’ll take it!” we both chorused in union.
And funnily enough, the lava cake came with icecream.
Could life have gotten more perfect at that very moment?
I doubt it.
Seeing our enthusiasm, our waiter decided we must toast with two shots of free limoncello, which led to further extrapolations over coffee and ended up with the three of us chatting half the night away, in a closed restaurant with the most enchanting fairy lights for our perusal.
It was one of my last days in New York, but one of my most memorable ones in all the years I called New York home.
Last night, I saw Raisa again after a bit of a spell, and as we laughed half the night away, we both realized that the lava cake has served as inspiration to us that there is much truism, even on a minute level, to the words that have been memorialized by Paulo Coelho:
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
Every single time I think about how things are not going my way, I remember the chocolate lava cake, and since that fateful night, cannot ever look at a desserts menu without reflecting on the one night when we got everything we wanted from the universe.
Life is pretty simple, and even in trivialities can move you with lasting impressions, and it takes only a lava cake to showcase how easy it is to be fulfilled.