Cafe MA CHERIE, Rue Cler ( Cler Street) , Paris.
Mother’s Day 1932. Her emotions were as dark as a sullen cloud before the sun. Her life was nothing short of a big pause in the pursuit of happiness. Eleanor Fabienne Beaumont, ” Ellie” as she would call herself was, a damsel in distress indeed. With her bottom slapped on the soft cushions of the Cafe’s ottoman, right next to the rustic lunette window, she watched the rains and stayed mesmerized in the whiff of the early Spring Primroses. She carelessly wiped away a tear on the hard fabric of her dress. It cut her cheek and the salty tears produced a burning sensation on the face… She enjoyed it though…. with her face towards the clear sky and her eyes closed and all this made her feel a wee bit angelic, with a positive vibe.
MA CHERIE (” My Sweetheart”) was a top notch cafe in the bustling yet sublime Cler street in Paris. And the View of the Eiffel Tower from the cafe was LA MAGNIFIQUE. And the one thing about the cafe that stood out was the beauty of the cafe, ‘within’. It was an intricate piece of workmanship, with soft, velvet and linen interiors, finesse wood work, mauve tables etc. The cafe’s forte lies in its mouth watering savories and desserts. Be it the Greek Pancakes ,Cheesecakes, or the Tukish Baklavas or the Austrian Croissants or the native French Ganaches, Eclairs, Creme Brulees, Tarts , Mousses, Macaroons, American Pot Pies and Cup Cakes, Ma Cherie had it all, keeping the customers’ taste buds zestful and on fire, possibly bringing out the next victims to the sweet binge, craving for more.
Rambling and beating around the bush hasn’t really got us anywhere, has it ? Now who was Ellie? To be precise ( or maybe not), Ellie was Mad Eye Moody, floaty and a feisty woman full of desire. Three magic words to give the best rundown of Ellie : awkward, candid, intense. Foxy as Mr. Holmes and stunning like the blonde Femme Fatale Bridget Bardott, she was self- established and the cafe was a tribute to her late adoptive mother, Madame Adalene Blanchet , whose supposed omnipresence like a guardian angel, even after her demise , was her driving force. Having been orphaned right from infancy and suffering in several workhouses, this female counterpart of Oliver Twist and David Copperfield (Ellie), had very few places she could call home. And in dire need of stability, all she got was chaos and madness. In such a turmoil, came her Saving Grace, Madame Adalene or “Adele” as she would address herself, who adopted her and educated her and loved her more than herself. All this because, she had no offspring of her own bloodline and there was something more than that, a guilt which ate her up, the reason being an even bigger mystery. Her biggest Achilles Heel was her unconditional love for Ellie, which proved to be fatal on the night of the Titanic catastrophe when Mama Adele Risked her life to get her “bebe” on board the last lifeboat and fell to her death in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. Never being able to redeem herself from the guilt of that travesty, Ellie decided to do all she could, to embrace her second chance to life she just earned from her mama as her dying wish and to do her mama proud. Ellie made a living out of several businesses in New York and oh my, she did make a hell of a Dime, as the years went by. Godspeed.
Ellie returned to Paris during USA’s Great Depression, with enough wealth in her hands for a fresh start. And the cafe was the starting point of the business venture out there. She also owned boutiques, spas etc. But the cafe was special. Because it was here, her mama’s home made recipes expressed the warmth and love of a mom to her lost and confused kids. And “Ma Cherie” were the Last words of her mama, while rescuing her and thus, the name of the cafe seemed legit and justified in its own sense.
Even though Ellie did all she could, there was this dark void, deep inside her heart, that longed to see a silver lining. I guess, sometimes the painful past just catches up with you, whether you want it or not, as in the eyes of Paul Edgecomb , the protagonist in Green Mile. And this guilt/remorse/melancholy was eating her within and also explained her currently low spirit in the beginning of the story.
Hours just flew by and Ellie, still struggles to break free, until (*drum roll….) enter Desiree Rousseau, a quick-witted Maverick, in to the cafe . The first word or the only syllable that would be audible from someone smitten by her was ” Belle”.
Ellie, all sober yet maudlin in her cafe, sights the beauty and notices the way she goes about, blending with the diverse crowd, and singing random French Jingles with the piano. And what caught her eye the most, was her striking Resemblance to Mama Adele, both appearance wise and Character wise. It was like Mama Adele’s apparition from a time capsule.
After placing an order for a chicken pot pie,the talkative Desiree, who tends to open up to any stranger , sits right next to Ellie.(Pft, Call it coincidence or fate). Unable to resist the urge and temptation to exchange syllables with someone who reminded her of her mom, Ellie, who normally wouldn’t reciprocate someone’s affection in the start of a conversation, decides to give it a shot.
” Mon Dieu,That song of yours was surely finesse, Miss..?”
” Desiree. *shake hands*. Desiree Rousseau. And you are..?”
” Eleanor Fabienne Beamont. The owner of this splendid Cafe. You can call me Ellie.”
” Oh Miss Ellie, i must say you have a wonderful cafe Here. I mean , My first trip to Paris and I ‘ve never got such a splendid view of the mighty Eiffel ever. ”
” Mighty ?” She looked ahead at the looming structure in front of her and asked, ” I just never get it. Why do people come from all over the world to just gaze at it ?”
” Its a great symbol of France, a constant reminder that true Beauty is result of hardwork. Even Monsieur Gustav Eiffel himself said that he ought to be jealous, as the Eiffel is more famous than him”
And there sat Ellie, Jaw Dropped on listening to that answer. The question about the Eiffel was just a test and the answer to the question was exactly what her mama would say.
” Well, tell me more about yourself , Miss Rousseau. I mean about your family and your life, in a nutshell, if you don’t mind.”.
“Sure. I am an orphan and had my share of the dark days in foster homes and workhouses. Before that, My life was full of love and warmth , even in the harshest winters of France. My mama, Madame Adalene Blanchet, meant the world to me. Who knew that our journey to face life together, was never meant to be. A local riot and the consequent fire killed almost the entire village and our family got split and we lost ourselves in the chaos. That Inferno killed my mama, that,s what the witnesses say and I learned to live out the remaining mothers days of my life , desolate, without a mama. And in this materialistic world, I struggled to make both ends meet and now, I am in search of a Foster Home to take me , so that I could continue with my dream to be an artist in Paris. Also, Today being Mothers Day, I wanted some Mommy Recipe Pot Pies and this place, just seemed so intriguing and caught my eye.”
Now Ellie understood why her mom had a hidden guilt and realising that hidden guilt of loss of loved ones was something running in the family. She replied,” You’ve come to the right Place, Ma Cherie. Nothing less than your Mama for you. And about a Foster Home, I know the perfect place for you. No. 22, Rue de la Paix, Paris”
” Thank you Madame. Whose Place is it again ?”
“Umm, A person named Eleanor Fabienne Beaumont.*coyote smirk* ”
“Mon Dieu I can’t believe it. Merci Madame. Merci. I don’t know how to thank you. But all of a sudden?”
” I consider it as my redemption , by performing a duty that remained unfinished all along”
Desiree never understood that statement.
” Don’t thank me. Thank your mama Adele.”
Desiree never understood the true meaning of that statement either. She said,” Wait Madame, let me get my things from outside. Its raining. And yes, Happy Mothers Day to You Madame”
And Ellie said, “Merci, Ma Cherie. ”
And that on that Day, Ellie Smiled the Brightest, like The happiest Cheshire Cat and in the euphoria never had she realized that the dark void in her heart was overloaded with joy.