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It was the month of December. The sadness of aging and the excitement of starting new walked hand in hand. I was in Moscow and was working for a Russian pipes company. I hated the cold but it was beautiful all around. Of course, I valued scenic beauty above death in severe cold.I was thinking of returning to India next year but something strange had held me back. I was caught up with taking a decision.

It snowed the whole day and most of the mornings would go in shovelling out the snow that had accumulated in front of my house. My neighbour was a cranky old man who would watch me shovelling the snow while drinking his cup of coffee.Old fucker. I wore double gloves and socks and still they would fail to bring me warmth. Somewhere around nine in the morning, I would go out for work.

I delivered pipes in a truck. They were mostly journeys to nearby cities such as Shakhmatovo or Kolomna. Once a month I would go to Sergiev posad which was really beautiful and breathtaking. Christmas was approaching and I was ready for a long holiday. It was one of my last days in the company. The pipes got loaded and I got into the truck.

Sometime after half an hour, I noticed something hot touching my legs. I reached out for it. It was a thermos flask. It was strange because it wasn't mine. I found an empty sheet of paper as well. Who could have kept it there? Maybe one of my friends. But why so sudden a bit of favor? And why an empty sheet? Did the person want me to thank him/her in writing? How strange. It was a trip to Sergiev posad. I was a bit happy.

Once I reached the factory,I began to drink the coffee. It was a beautiful day but awfully cold. Even the Russians were rubbing their gloved hands every now and then. I could see the cold vapours coming out of my mouth. Anyone could easily mistake me for smoking. The coffee was hot and felt perfect. I never thought I would have something that I will feel 'perfect'. I am that kind of a person who will find some kind of fault in everything, no matter what. So, perfection was nothing but sort of a miracle to come by me. "Hey!!".

One of my colleagues called me into the factory and I put the bottle on the empty note and went in. The guy knew a bit of English and spoke mostly Russian. I had learnt a bit of Russian but not much. I took out my phone and used Google Translate. He took a pause and looked at me gravely. Have I made some mistakes? I self-doubted for a moment. I had checked the pipes and had also checked the truck. I had also driven the truck safely.

He began to speak on the Google Translate. "It's really cold today!". Then the guy grinned at me. I nodded.How much dumb can a person be? When I came back, the coffee was spilt on the paper and the thermoflask had fallen down. Holy shit. As I bent down to pick up the thermoflask, I saw something written on the paper. Then it struck me. It was one of those papers on which you could spill some hot liquid so that it could reveal what's written on it.

"I want to f...." It was written vaguely on the paper. I spilled some more coffee to see what's written more. Was it the f word? Has someone fallen for me? Russian women are great to f.... I blushed a bit as I thought this. "I want to finally kill........" The coffee got over. And my dreamy feelings too. My blood began to rush. Someone wanted to kill me? It's funny how my mind readily agreed that someone wanted to fuck me. I looked around. It was dead silent. I crumpled the paper and threw it away.I suddenly remembered the cranky old man. Was the coffee poisoned?


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