I munched the cheese sandwich and forced it down my throat. It tasted like cardboard and I could literally feel it passing over to my empty stomach. My thoughts were occupied by an infuriating girl.
It had been that way since the day I met her. I could feel the tears collecting over my eyelashes. I missed her. I missed her smell. I missed her eyes. I missed her voice. Hell, I even missed the sound of her breath. It had been two solid days, since we last spoke. The two greatest things that life had given me was: her love and football. So, I tried to distract myself by indulging my body and mind with football. But football couldn’t keep her off my mind. I was out of focus the entire time I spent at the field. My teammates seemed to be disappointed with my performance, I myself felt disappointed with it, but I couldn’t help it. All my attempts to forget her ended up in vain. So I finally gave up and spent my every second of every day with her thoughts hovering my mind. Her presence made me feel alive, it made me a better version of myself. I was madly in love with her. Her eyes held a spark that no girl could possibly have. Even thinking about it made me feel alive. It made me feel sense, sense of what an idiot I was to let her go. That sense made me feel disgusted over myself for sitting and munching a bad cheese sandwich and feeling depressed that she left me instead of trying to get her back. She was my life, how could I live without her?
I made up my mind that I simply could not live in depression and quickly got up from the chair and walked towards the garage. I could hear my mother’s distant voice asking me what I was upto. I didn’t bother to reply, I just waved my hands at her, signalling a bye and drove the car out. It took me a while to realize that her anger on me was at its peak. I had to do something that would make her forget the anger. I tried to recall the million moments she and I shared together, searching for that one thing which will make her get out off the anger. Then, it striked to me, food. She loves eating. I wanted to make that whole apology scenario a little funny, yet it must prove my point. It must show how sorry I was. I ran through the events that happened that day, from eating a sandwich to feeling depressed to thinking about her eyes to the spark that made me feel sense. She encouraged me into that and suddenly, I felt how lucky I was to have met her. I could not let her go and I will not. My mind got out of the thought process and started jotting down the endless list of food items she loved the most. I tried to pick a few which held an emotional or memorable meaning to both of us and the obvious answer was, pizza. Our first date was to a pizza place. I recalled the way her face lit up when the waiter had placed the dish on our table. She savoured each and every mouth of it, her face etched with a smile throughout the entire evening. I even remember how she politely thanked the waiter for serving us. I fell for her madly, that day.
I drove my way to the same pizza place and placed an order for a customized pizza. I asked them to add all the toppings I knew she’d love. I payed for the pizza and left the place. I then drove to an English Café known for it’s cheese cakes. She was the one who brought me there first and I instantly got addicted to the taste of the cheese cake. I bought two of those and placed them in the passenger seat of my car, next to the pizza box. I took a pen out of the dashboard and opened the pizza box. The smell of the pizza filled my nostrils, it was wonderful and I was sure that she’d love it. I wrote a ‘Sorry’ message at the inside of the opened lid and drew a heart around it. It looked perfect. I closed the box and drove my way to her house. Within minutes, I reached the street where her house was located. As I entered the street, I could see a car parked infront of her house. I then saw her parents getting into the car, followed by her brother. I silently prayed that she mustn’t go with them because then I’d have to eat the pizza and cheese cake all by myself. All my plan would go for a waste. My prayers didn’t go in vain, she stood at a distance and waved a good-bye to her family. The situation couldn’t be more perfect. I mentally did a somersault and waited for the car to leave the place. After the car left, I slowly drove towards the house and looked out for signs of other people. After few minutes of scanning the locality, I was quiet sure that she was alone. I went towards the door with the pizza and cheese cakes in my hand. I took a minute before ringing the bell to open the box and place the cheese cake on either side of the pizza. I rang the bell and the 20 seconds wait was the longest wait ever! The door opened with a click. She looked so pretty. She was dressed in a grey T-shirt and white tracks. Her eyes never failed to mesmerize me. I mentally whistled at how beautiful she looked. I quickly got out of the stance and studied her expression. It was null. I could make out nothing from it. Her eyes racked slowly towards the box in my hand and I swear that I saw a faint smile play over her lips. It was a good sign. I quickly bent on my knees and said,
“Please forgive me. I simply can’t live without you”, and put on the best innocent smile I could. Her expression was still null. A part of me started losing hope that she’d forgive me. Just as I started thinking that all this was for a waste, her expression slowly changed to a smile and she started laughing. It was the most beautiful sound in the world. She took the pizza box from my hand and gently placed her lips on mine. The kiss was gentle and soft. I placed my hands on her waist and kissed her with equal intensity. After a while, she took her lips off mine and said, “I wouldn’t have forgiven you if it was not for the pizza”.
“So, you love pizza more than me?”, I countered.
“Apparently, yes.”, she replied with a mock attitudish tone.
I smiled with relief, realizing that she was back being her old self.
“You may come in.”, she said with the same tone and turned around.
We were back again, so I had to get back to being myself, right? I gently held her waist and lifted her, my other arm lifting her knees. She gave a squeak and started giggling.
“Yes, let’s go in”, I replied by adapting the tone she used a while back.
She mock glared at me and placed one of her arms around my neck, the other arm holding the pizza box.
“I love you, you know.”, she said.
“I love you baby.”, I replied and the kiss that followed seemed to last for hours.
I mentally thanked the people responsible for the discovery of pizza and cheese cake, without whom my life would’ve been miserable!
Category Archives: Short Fiction
I munched the cheese sandwich and forced it down my throat. It tasted like cardboard and I could literally feel it passing over to my empty stomach. My thoughts were occupied by an infuriating girl.
“It’s cold today could we just take a walk along the city light roads before coming to my house?” Richa asked me.
“Well yeah it’s totally fine, I don’t want us to catch a cold,” I replied being affirmative
“So meet you at Captains Cafe then, don’t keep me waiting like the last time,” she warned.
“Don’t worry, not this time,” I smirked, as I cut the call.
It was 25th of December, I had stayed back in the hostel for industrial training in a company.
Well, Richa was my classmate I have known her for the last three years of engineering. She was a jolly good looking girl who wore black wayfer glasses, her hairs were straight, her nose a bit pointed, her voice a pleasant one and an average student like me in the class. My roll number was just after her so every practical, assignments, presentation etc, I was to do with her. Many a time we realized we had almost same views on a matter or any topic. She helped me a lot when I had the breakup with Shruti last year. I mean she was every time around me helping, supporting and everything possible. I did not want to go back to home this vacation so we ended up applying for industrial training in a company and got selected. To say in other words she was the closest to me in college with whom I could share everything. My friends used to jokingly tease me with her, in fact, our whole class did.
I then locked the door before going to the college bus stop. The bus came minutes later after I reached the stop. As I ascended the bus I could see only a few faculties and some scholars sitting scattered on the bus. I took the last corner of the bus for sitting.
One hour later I reached the city and one by one passenger began to get off the bus. Then the conductor shouted, “Captains Cafe stop” for the passengers.
I got up from the seat and started to walk towards the door of the bus. I could see through the window Richa sitting on the bus stand and tapping the screen before putting the phone on her ears to call. By the time driver had hit the brakes and the bus came to a halt. I stepped down from the bus when Richa saw me and cut the call.
“Ah! 5 minutes late today I was calling you,” Richa said feeling good not having to wait much today.
“It’s the driver’s fault, not mine,” my shivering voice said as I could feel the outside low temperature after stepping out from the bus.
“Your excuses every time,” she responded and laughed.
“I guess you need a hot cup of coffee,” she noticed I was shivering.
“Yeah it should be perfect” I replied regretting not wearing the overcoat and preferring the leather jacket.
We walked through the footpaths as we discussed our report of ongoing industrial training. Today I could see her more happy than usual. She had put on her beanie cap, the white watch I gifted on her last birthday, a white Nike shoe, a bomber black jacket and white jeans. I bet she had a lot of fashion sense.
As we entered the CCD for coffee we saw more crowd than usual as it was Christmas night. We placed ourselves at an empty table in a corner and ordered two cappuccinos.
“So what will we shop for today’s dinner?” she asked excitedly
We had planned to make ourselves a dinner and spend the night in her home as her parents were out for a week.
“Well I guess we will take some Paneer, and some candles if u would like it to make a candle lit dinner” I laughed at my idea.
“Sound’s great and yeah I am dying to eat your Paneer, your roommate told me about your cooking skills you present at their birthday parties,” her eyes gleamed.
“Haha is it ?” I replied as I sipped a drink from my cup and feeling proud of my cooking skills.
Just then a memory flashed 2 years back when Shruti used to come over to my house and I used to make Paneer for her and she loved eating it. She used to say; “I hope you will continue making such dishes after our marriage too”, at which I used to laugh and reply, “Anything for you, my dear” and pull her nose.
“What are you smiling at?” Richa gave me perplexed look as she noticed me smiling like a fool for the last 30 seconds.
“Oh! Nothing just some memories” I replied getting back to my senses.
”Did you bring some of your grass?” she whispered to me with a cunning smile.
“Shh! Keep it down, not here” I warned her as the boy sitting next to the table might have understood what she said and turned to us.
“So if you are done with the cup lets go, we got some shopping to do,” I advised Richa.
We got up and she paid the bills. She never allowed me to pay the bills saying, “You are a hosteller you will face money problems soon, keep it I’m there for you”. Well, it’s not that I liked spending and eating on her money but I felt a little guilty for her spending so much money on me. She was the single child of her parents and her parents were a higher official in government thinking of that I comforted myself.
As we walked through the tank showcased on the middle of the city, we noticed decorations around, Santas walking around the cities, Christmas trees planted in front of the shops, shopping malls with 60-70% sale hoardings, people out for shopping and buying gifts. The city was fully on the swing for Christmas. We reached the city center and went for the milk product section where we bought half a kilo Paneer. We then went to a mall to get some .
Crossing the female section before reaching the grocery section Richa’s eye’s caught the attention of a trench coat which was put on sale. She dragged me into the ladies section for accompanying her. It was a blue collared trench coat with cotton blending and a solid design.
“Hold my purse before I try it on” she demanded.
Well go to shopping with girls and enter the clothes section they will always demand you to hold onto their purse. Mother, sister, ex-girlfriend, and now her. I guess it will continue with my wife too if I go shopping with her in near future.
“ok sure” I replied having no other option.
As the saleswoman helped her to get into that trenchcoat it fitted her perfectly. She was around 5’8’’ and her waist might be 24 I guessed. It was as if it was made perfectly for her.
“How do I look?” she asked looking herself in the mirror.
“Perfect beauty” I winked, my usual habit of complementing Shruti whenever we went shopping.
Oh, why am I thinking so much of her she is gone, it is past forget everything about her and move on my brains said. But deep inside my heart, I knew I had a soft corner room for her.
“Well, how much is it?” I asked her as she was telling the saleswoman to pack it for her.
“3500 rupees only,” she said as we walked towards the grocery section.
“It’s on me” the words came out of my mouth. I guess I wanted to seriously take out Shruti from my mind and everywhere and I found that gifting the trenchcoat to Richa would help me. Well I know I may sound foolish but I saw a way of overcoming it. My scholarships were in last month and my pockets were full so I did not hesitate a moment before saying those words.
“You need not do it my dear why waste your pocket money on me?” she said as she pulled my nose playfully.
“Well see seriously you are the only close one here and I spend a lot of time with you, you are always there for me and I just don’t know how to thank you so please accept my gift as a token of love from my side,” I said to her with a deep tone. I guess she might have understood what I was trying to say.
“Thank you so much my dear” saying this she hugged me.
After shopping, we went to the nearby Christmas fair where we took a ride on the Ferris wheel, swing boat, and the teacups. Needless to say, I was dragged into every ride with her because I am very afraid of them and ended up catching the bars tightly till the end of every ride as she laughed at me.
I wish Shruti was here to hold my hands like she does in every ride.
“I never knew you were such a nincompoop” Richa laughed saying as we came out of the fair.
“I am only afraid of the rides and nothing else,” I said feeling a bit insulted to her.
“Really? What about our department’s HOD? Last month I had to accompany you when you had to get a signature from him.” She teased me.
“Alright, it’s only rides and HOD ok and nothing else” I replied and started walking faster.
She continued laughing, “Ok baba now don’t be angry or else who will make me tasty Paneer” saying it she pulled my cheeks.
Shruti did the same sometimes pulling my cheeks, sometimes my nose when I was angry. Am I missing her? Should I call her? What might she be doing now? Is she thinking about me too?
Oh, wait is she still in my head? Why is she still in my head when a more beautiful girl is with me? Richa has got more fashion sense in her, her pointers are far better than Shruti etc so why still think of her?
I was annoyed and perplexed as I stopped by to buy a packet of cigarettes from a nearby retailer.
“So how many cigarettes did you finish up today?” Richa asked as we started walking again on the streets.
“Hardly four I guess” I replied as I counted on my fingers.
“Aj, see if you are still on to her and smoking to overcome it please stop your smoking. Think of your parents, they have high expectations on you, spending this much money on you for studying………” as she was saying, I stopped her in between.
“Ah! Stop it I know, I have to think of my parents, get placed in a good company, and bla blah blah” I was tired of listening to her same speeches every day.
Whatsoever she says she was like my second caretaker after my mom. In today’s world, you would feel very lucky if you got such a good friend like her who thinks about you from every perspective.
We both were now used to it, she telling me to stop smoking and me telling her to stop saying that. Talking and joking around we reached the block of her house. It was around 5 minutes walk away now to her house. Her block was silent, it was a government colony and most of the people went to their granny’s for the Christmas vacations. Only some of the street lights were glowing others were broken. We walked through the lane as we heard dogs barking at a distance.
“It’s extreme cold tonight,” she said as she rubbed her hands and blew hot air from her mouth in it.
“Yeah, it is,” I said as I held the shopping bags in my left hand and the right hand inside my jacket.
“I wish someone would hold my hand as we walk through and keep me warm,” she said looking at the cold sky.
“Haha then find a good boyfriend” I replied as I failed to notice that she was indicating me to hold her hands.
“Oh I think you can call Anshul to hold your hands he will keep you very warm” I teased her. Anshul was our class topper who always answered to every question asked by the professor and his hairs were always dipped in full of hair oil and were separated in half. Richa just hated him so I never missed a chance to tease him with her.
“Don’t say his name” she hit hard on my right shoulder with her hands, more depressed of me failing to notice her indications rather than me saying Anshul’s name.
“Ouch alright you got tough hands” I reacted as we reached the gate of her house.
She opened the door and I sat on the sofa and lit a cigarette.
“Careful with the ashes put it on the ash tray this is not your hostel” she knew of my cigarette smoking habits as I threw up ashes here and there. Last time I came to her home, I ended up throwing ashes on the carpet.
She went to her room for changing. As I smoked I switched to VH1 on the television. It’s been long since I watched TV. The chainsmoker – closer was on the playlist. I smoked as I slowly kept nodding to the song beat.
“Hey, shall we start? It’s already 9:30 pm and it’s getting late” she said from behind as she tied a bun on her head. She had changed into a crewneck sweater and shorts.
“Wait up almost finished smoking, want a puff?” I said jokingly.
She came up and sat by me “ok let me try it”
“Are you sure?” I questioned as I did not expect that.
“Come on show me how you inhale it” she insisted
“You just take it in your mouth and pull it before you inhale it and let it go” I demonstrated as I released the smoke from my mouth.
She then took the cigarette from my fingers and inhaled it, immediately she started coughing. I laughed,
“Haha want to try more? Try once more” I teased as I handed over her a water bottle which was on the tea table.
She handed me the cigarette before drinking water from the bottle. I could notice the pink lipstick mark on the white filter of the cigarette.
“Wait let me try once more” she insisted
She tried two three times before perfecting to release smoke without coughing.
“How do you even get addicted to this things?” she questioned.
“You will not understand it,” I laughed.
“Oh what about the joint you promised to bring today?” she added.
“Yeah, two joints” as I took them out from the inner pocket of the jacket.
She decided to try on some weed tonight before sleeping. She had heard a lot from me about the dreams you get after smoking one. So she finally decided to try it on today. We had been planning for this a long ago.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked still perplexed whether I should do it with her alone in her room. It was not that I wanted to take a chance on her or something, it’s just that she insisted so much on it that I had to do it.
“Daar ke agge jeet hai” she repeated the lines of the mountain dew advertisement and smelled the joint.
I then got myself freshened up and we both spent the next hour preparing dinner.
“Hmm it tastes too good !” she exclaimed tasting the gravy with a spoon.
“Can’t wait to dig into it,” she added as she started taking out the plates from the drawers.
The next 10 minutes we spent on putting the table and the plates. Finally, we ended up lighting the candles.
“So it’s over let’s get on with the joint before digging here,” she was known for the fact that you get more hungry after smoking weed. So we decided to smoke on her terrace. We switched off the lights before leaving the dining room. The room was now only lit only with the tables from the dining table.
I lighted my flashlight on the phone as we ascended to her terrace.
I gave her one and lighted her joint before lighting mine. She coughed at the first two puffs before she started normalizing.
As we sat on her terrace we could see the far city lights and vehicles going in line. The sound of the traffic and horns were heard dimly.
“Life has become a race isn’t it?” her words broke the silence of the terrace.
“Yeah you get up every day, go to classes, make notes, mug up for exams, do your assignments and this goes on and on every semester” I replied with frustration in my life of engineering.
“Everywhere you go you are judged by your pointer’s. You apply for internships in IIT’s they ask a cutoff of 8 points. You want to sit for good companies they ask you about your pointers. Pointer pointer and pointer everywhere !! Uhh! I’m fed up now”
“Engineering ne hamari le li” I replied as I blew out a smoke ring from my mouth.
“Hey how did you do that?” she asked amazed
I smoked some more before releasing two smoke rings in one blow.
“Please teach me” she insisted.
“Okay so first take up some smoke, don’t inhale. Make your mouth and lips a bit rounder and just push it from inside like this” I taught her as if I was a pro vap king.
She tried but only laminar smoke came from her mouth. After trying for 4-5 times a thin unusual smoke ring came out before it unwinded up to the laminar flow.
“See see I almost made it” she shouted at her achievement. She tried doing that for 3-4 times before the light reached the tip of her filter.
“Oh it’s finished” she glommed.
“It’s all right you can try it with cigarettes after some time” I consoled her.
“I would never have enjoyed that much with Shruti as I am having now with you.” the words slipped from my mouth.
“You still remember her don’t you?” she asked looking into my eyes.
“Well I try a lot harder but still she keeps coming, I just don’t know why” I replied as I took out a cigarette to light one.
“Time heals everything” she consoled me tapping on my shoulder.
“I am now just going on with the flow?” I said frustrated as I inhaled a puff.
“Don’t worry I am always with you in both of your good and bad times” she consoled me once again putting her head on my shoulders and taking the cigarette off my fingers and smoking.
Adding, she said, “I tell you this never go with the flow. Fight for what you deserve. Life is tough, the world is hard. The world will push you to the corner and keep on torturing. It is you who have to get up and fight. Fight for what you believe and you want to live for.”
I looked her over my left shoulder she was still looking to me. I never expected her to say that kind of words.
“I think the weed hit you,” I said
“No I am in my sense, I am just bringing you to the real world of sense” she babbled. I knew she was hitting on weed. Her words and her voice said me everything.
“Come on now let’s go for dinner now it’s getting cold here” I pleaded her.
“Ok I’m hungry now” she laughed
We got up and started to descend down the stairs. I could notice her going from left to right while walking. I caught her by her waist before she could walk any further. I just did not want any mishap to happen when her parents were away. Step by step we finally reached the ground floor before opening the door.
The candles were still lit and burned to half. Only the candles were the source of light in the room. I closed back the door before I took her to the sofa.
“Shall we watch TV a bit before eating? It’s Saturday today my favorite show will be broadcasting soon” she pleaded
“But I thought you were hungry” I answered
“Don’t worry I will manage” she replied with a very wide smile.
I knew she was high now by looking at her smile.
She got up and switched the remote, she pressed it again. The TV did not switch ON.
“Oh, this bloody electricity” she cursed.
“So now shall we proceed for dinner then?” I requested as I got up from the sofa.
She caught hold of my left hand before pulling me to sit back with her. I bounced back and almost ended up going near her face. I now knew the joint started hitting me a bit.
“Aj I got to tell you something important,” she said looking into my eyes and still holding my hands.
In the dim light of the candles I could see her taking off her glasses, her eyes shined, her eyes looked more beautiful which I failed to notice with the glasses above it. I just did not know whether it was the effect of weed but I was finding her everything beautiful.
She continued, ”Aj you see you are someone I have been close to from the last 3 years of my life. You see I am the only child of my working parents and I just get bored. I don’t have any good friends nor do I have any siblings. All the secrets I share is only with you. I could just give up my everything on you……….”
“I think you are a little high today Richa” I stopped her.
“Do you think I am joking? Look into my eyes, just look it,” as she came closer to my face.
The shadow of her face was so close to mine that I could feel her breathe on my face. The only space between us was the breadth of our nose. All I could see was the light brown pupil of her eyes shining from the candle light. This was it, our lips touched each other. We locked both of our fingers together. The void between my fingers was filled with hers. I pressed my lips against hers. She started to bite my lips with her teeth and I bit hers. She found a pathway to insert her tongue into mine and we were locked. It was so intense that we were in no mood to look backward now. She held me by my neck and me by her waist. I slowly leaned on her as she slowly leaned herself on the sofa. I could feel the warmth of her breast on my chest. I was completely upon her now.
“Are you really doing this?” The inner heart said me. But my brains were completely enjoying the intense lust of the moment. My heart showed me of the same moment I had with Shruti years back. My brains said me to forget her and carry on with Richa now. Again my heart showed a glimpse of Shruti as I promised her to always love her after our first smooch. My brain kept on defending my heart.
Fighting between my brain and heart I chose to go with my heart. What if I am no longer in a relationship with her? But yeah I still love her. No matter how much I try to overcome it, she will never be taken out off my heart. It was as if she had her name was scratched with a stone in my heart.
I immediately took my lips off her.
“I am really, really sorry I can’t do this. Please, I am really sorry! I can’t explain it ” all those words came out of my mouth jumbled as I did not know what to say. Richa kept giving a puzzled look on me as she too did not realize what happened just now between the two of us.
Taking my jacket which was on the tea table, I walked out of the room as the wind came gushing and blowing out the candles before I closed the door.
Yesterday, I sneaked out of the house just to have a smoke. Like always I climbed on to the roof. I loved looking at the stars and the moon while I took my puffs. Yesterday was different because I would have unexpected company.
There are three ways to get in the roof. One is to use of a ladder, the second is to grab a ledge and pull yourself up and the third is to climb up the tree adjacent to my home and get on to the roof from there with the help of an over hanging branch. The ladder would be too noisy and I wasn’t feeling like using the ledge so I climbed the tree. When I got onto the roof, I saw someone sitting on the corner. I wasn’t really surprised meeting a stranger on the roof in the middle of the night and I rarely get spooked.
So I asked “Hey, what are you doing up on my roof?”
She replied calmly “Same as you, came here for a smoke, Do you have a light?”
I handed the match box to her. I took out a cigarette and placed on my lips.
She looked at me and said “You should quite smoking those, it will kill ya?” I was a little surprised I said “Really?” She continued “Try this, it is a lot healthier.”
She lit up a roll, took a drag and handed it to me, I too took a drag and so we went back and forth till we smoked up the whole joint. I must say, it was really good stuff.I don’t know how long we sat there enjoying the trip.
She took out a bottle of water from the bag next to her and offered, I took the bottle out of her hands and gulped down the water. I handed the bottle to her and said “Thanks”.
I extended my hand and introduced myself to her “I am Rahul, whats your story?”
She shook my hand and in an instant I knew who she was, then she let my hand go and said “From time to time I visit, this planet, like I do so many others. Like you, there are a few to whom I revealed my existence.”
I smirked “Oh, the whole world is aware of your existence. Except for may be the Atheists”.
She smiled and said “You have me wrong. They all have me wrong. It is the Atheists who have the right answer.”
I looked at her puzzled. She continued “You are stubbornly trying to understand what I am or trying to quantify me into concepts that you can currently understand. When you ask an Atheist who is God? He will give you the right answer. He doesn’t know. Neither does anybody, including you? When I showed you who I was, your mind quickly tried to wrap my existence around a concept that you were familiar with and that was God. Isn’t God just a concept, isn’t he as fictional as Santa Claus as long as there isn’t any quantifiable proof. The existence of the North Pole doesn’t prove the existence of Santa Claus as much as the existence of the universe or life, proving the existence of God.”
I was still confused at the contradiction that was in front of me. “Who are you then?”
She replied “Your mind has the right idea of visualizing me as a female. Isn’t the word female synonymous with mystery? so Label me a mystery if you must or don’t label me at all”.
It became very clear that I don’t know anything, these were things that was beyond me, but I still had to ask “Why me?”
She replied “Why Not? Again, you need reasons, for questions that have none, I am sure your trusted logic is failing you. It is okay not everything has to make sense”.
I asked her “Is it okay that I still believe that you are God?”
She laughed and replied “Choice is yours, expectations isn’t. Bye.”
She disappeared as I whispered “Bye”.
There was this girl I really liked, back in college. We had made plans to meet for lunch. Her roommate dropped her off at the restaurantwe were supposed to meet. We had lunch and had a delightful conversation about worldly things. When it was time to leave, I told her that I could drop her back to her hostel on my motorbike. She was… is, a very joyful and charming lady, but had one flaw – she was very
practical about things. You see, the restaurant was at the center with her hostel and mine being on opposite sides. So in her words, “It
doesn’t make any sense for you to go that way and double back to your hostel” Like all men my age, who fought tooth and nail with their fathers to get the bike that they wanted, I didn’t mind driving a few extra miles even in the absence of a gorgeous pillion as
she. With her – I could go 500 miles, and I could go 500 more…
For once though (may be just for kicks) luck was on my side. A strike was declared that day
for all public transportation, which we knew nothing about. She tried hailing a couple ofautos (for the uninitiated, autos are just like
cabs, but on three wheels, with built in vibrators under each seat, and have a licence to thrill on Indian roads). None of the auto drivers were willing to drive,
owing to the strike. A single one who did agree to drive, was charging 4x the usual fare. I told
her, “It doesn’t make sense to spend so much money… You’ll just be encouraging them to exploit others”.
She pointed at one auto that stood a little ahead on the road, and said “Tell you what? If That guy agrees to drive for 2x the fare or below, I’ll take it. Otherwise, you can drive me to the hostel.”
We walked up to the auto and she asked him, “How much would you charge for driving up to XYZ hostel?”
He said, “Rs. 80”.
The actual fare was around Rs 35 to Rs 40. He was cutting it close on the 2x criteria. While she was debating whether to take the
auto or not, I panicked. I took out a 100 rupee note, and told the auto driver, “I’ll give you 100 bucks not to drive her.”
The auto driver was quite sharp. He didn’t waste time in asking stupid questions, like “Why?”. He just snatched the note out of my
hand, and drove away. She turned to me and said, “Why the hell did
you do that for?”
I gave a sheepish grin, “I just felt like driving you back.”
By this time she had started punching me, “You’re insane! And stupid! And insane! You could have just said so! What about all that
talk of not encouraging them to exploit others?
You could have donated that money to a good cause!”
I took the fact that she was walking towards my bike and not walking away from me as a good sign, and replied “I did donate it for a good cause.” She caught my grin, and returned a goofy laugh, “You’re insane!”
It has stopped raining and the sky is starting to clear up. We’ve been walking and talking for about half an hour trying to find a place to stay for the night. The tension between us has subsided due to the running and laughing. Finally it feels like we’re back to the old old times of us hanging out. Granted ‘the old times” was just a few months ago but it feels much more than that. The feeling of being with her comes naturally. I’m at ease but at the same time excited. Like something wonderful is about to happen. “Hey do you wanna check that place out?” she asks pointing to a motel down the street. “Sure by the way, do you have any money?” I ask. “Only for the train tomorrow. Umm and I think all the ATM’s are closed by now.” she looks down worryingly. “I don’t have that much but I think I can pay for a small room.” I don’t know how we came here. Not here as in the place but here as in together along about to go into a motel together. I love any chance to be alone with her, to get to know her better but if this turns into just a one night fling I don’t want it.
We walk into the motel with a sign that says ‘OPEN FOR 24H’. There’s a short middle aged man standing behind the counter. The prices are on a paper on the counter and the only one I can afford is the single bedroom. “I can only afford the single bed one. Is it okay?” “Yeah as long as we don’t have to spend the night on the streets I’m fine. I’ll pay you back in the morning.” she looks up and smiles at me but it doesn’t quiet reach her eyes. I pay the man and he hands us a key that says 342. We walk up to the third floor and enter our room. It’s a single bed room alright. A single bed. That’s it. “Well this is fancy.” she says putting her bag on the floor. “Yup a bed, so fancy wow.” I say trying to be funny but coming off as snarky. She’s already sitting on the floor and I sit down next to her. It.s 11:24pm.
“So do we finally talk now?” I ask her. Yeah I get we’ve been talking all day but it just felt like a stream of little talks. It somehow feels like pretending. It’s like we’ve both been careful to not get too deep to the point of no return. She looks down at the floor like she’s thinking of an answer. “Okay I’ll start I guess.” I say breaking the silence. “Why did you get on the bus today?” I ask her even though I want to ask her something completely different. She takes a deep breath and starts talking in a quiet voice. “Just the thought of being in that classroom all alone for an hour and a half…I know I’m not literally alone in that room but it feels that way. Like I’m in this big, white, empty room all by myself and I can hear people talking but can’t fully comprehend it. Almost as if I’m underwater and people are trying to talk at me but I can’t understand. Almost as if everyone in that room, including the teacher are all in on this thing that I’m not a part of. I want to get above water and join them and I keep trying and trying but don’t seem to succeed.” she says like she’s been holding onto that for a long time. All I want to do is hug her and tell her it’s gonna be okay but I’m not sure if that’s true. Instead I ask her how long she’s been feeling that way. “Long enough that I don’t remember how long.”. “Anyways why’d you get in the bus?” she asks me. I’ve been asking myself too. “Honestly, I thought it was to skip classes today but it’s for this. To actually talk to you. I’ve been trying for weeks. If you really felt that way why didn’t you tell me? Why did you avoid me all this time?” as soon as I say that guilt comes over me. She’s going through something rough and all I can think of is myself? “Because I thought I could get over it by myself. Still kinda do. I didn’t want my knight in shining armor to come rescue me from myself.” I try to remain as calm as possible and try to put myself in her shoes. How could she think that being alone is better? “Yes I know you’re strong enough to go through this alone. But that doesn’t mean you have to.” I say. “You don’t understand.” her voice starts to break and it feels like she could burst into tears at any moment. “Then make me understand! I’ve been trying and trying for weeks! Do you realize how shitty it feels to be cut off by someone that you care about without even a slight explanation? If it’s because you weren’t doing so well then I would’ve been there for you. I would’ve been herefor you. Like I’m here for you now.” She looks at me for a moment and says “It always felt like a relief whenever I was with you that I was afraid I was becoming overly dependent I didn’t want my happiness and excitement to solely depend on one person who could walk away and take it all with him…So I walked away myself.” “Look I think I get it. Not fully but I mostly do.” She finally lets out a small giggle. “I’m not your knight in shining armor trying to save you. You’re our own savior I’ll be like your companion. Your sidekick! Like you’re Doctor Who and I’m your companion. Or you’re Conan and I’m Andy!” she’s laughing now which feels like music to my ears. “All I’m saying is you don’t have to do this alone, alright? If you’re afraid of getting overly dependent we can take it slow. You can go through this alone but just take me with you.” she looks at me with those sweet brown eyes and says “Okay.” and kisses me on the cheek.
“Hey wake up, we’re at the last stop” I hear him say. I open my eyes immediately and look out the window. It’s already dark outside. Oh god. What have I done? Getting into a bus that I didn’t even know where it was going. What was I thinking? Well I wasn’t thinking otherwise I wouldn’t be in this situation with him. On second thought he came here following me. He’s getting up and walking toward the door and I follow. It’s still raining outside so I open my umbrella and we both get under it and start walking.
“Do you know where we are? I’ve never heard of the station name before.” I ask. I’m not really sure to where we’re walking but it looks like we’re going to a street with more people. The city lights are visible and it looks far away. “Yeah it’s just a small city that’s not that popular. I haven’t been here before but I’ve heard it’s nothing special” he answers calmly as if this is just another normal night for him. And I’m starting to get nervous. I hope he doesn’t notice so I take a deep breath and start talking like everything is fine. “What should we do now? I mean we have class on the first period and the last bus and train of the day has already left” I say looking at him. It may look like skipping school wouldn’t be that much of a big deal do me considering I did that today and have been doing that almost every other week. But if I keep this going there’s a high chance that I might fail. Forgetting why I got into university in the first place when classes and life get too hard is a typical occurrence for me. I skipped the same class 3 times and if I do it one more time my attendance wouldn’t be enough to pass so I have to get there tomorrow. “Should we just take the first train? I think we can make it if we run to school from the station.” he says looking at me. Does this mean we’re gonna spend the night together? The first thought I have isn’t uneasiness that I’m gonna spend the night with a guy in some small town that neither of us really know. The nervousness that I felt a few minutes ago starts to fade because I’m just starting to realize that he’s not just anyone. We were friends at one time even though that feels like an eternity ago. But I still feel at ease with him. “Yeah let’s do that. Should we find a motel or something?” I say. “Yes but don’t you get too excited” he says grinning to himself. “I’ll try to keep my hands to myself haha” I say.
The first thought I have is that I’m not gonna be alone tonight. Nights are the toughest part of the day because when it’s dark and I have no distractions, the only thing left is just me and my thoughts. I’m stuck with myself and at times it starts go get hard whenever I’m alone. Which is pretty crazy since I’m alone basically all the time. I wasn’t always like this and honestly I don’t remember when things started to get like this. It’s been that long. But when I’m with him things start to feel a little lighter, a lot more bearable.
“What happened to your umbrella by the way?” I ask. “Oh umbrellas are for losers who are afraid of getting wet” and for a split second I think that he’s being serious. I don’t know what got in me in this moment, maybe because it’s dark and it’s raining, or maybe the fact that I’m out of town with someone who makes me feel at ease but excited at the same time. Probably both. “Oh really?” I say giving him a serious face and close my umbrella in one swift motion and start running as fast as I can. I look back and he’s running after me laughing and I’m laughing too. If he wanted to catch up with me he totally could, I’m not that fast of a runner. I slow down and turn back to face him. He stops running but we’re both still laughing. There aren’t anyone around us since it’s really late and we’re practically in the middle of nowhere. The only sound we hear is the sound of the rain. I know that we have to go to school tomorrow. I know that this night is not permanent just like the other ones. I know that the thoughts that creep into my head during the night won’t go away easily. But in this moment, when we’re wet from the rain, with tears in our eyes from laughing too hard, and the way he is looking at me is so warm that it feels like coming home, I don’t care about anything else and it’s just us.
I barely make it to the bus. I forgot my umbrella in the classroom because I was in a hurry to get out before the teacher came. I only went after her cause I overheard some girls talking about how she doesn’t have lunch with them anymore and never really hangs out with them. Lately she always looks a little sad. She’s not very good at hiding it. So I went out of the class since I didn’t really want to sit through an hour and a half of an old man lecturing us about how the future of the country is in our hands.
When I walk through the bus door soaked in rain and breathing heavily from running, I feel like this is a tad over dramatic. As if I did this grand romantic gesture of running in the rain just to see her. It’s not really like that. I just wanted to see if she’s alright and to have an excuse to skip class.
I go back to the back of the bus and sit next to her. “Hi” I say with half a smile and she looks back at me with a puzzled expression.
“Yeah hi. Aren’t you supposed to be in class right now?” she asks. “Aren’t you supposed to be in class right now? Or at home sick and not on a bus that’s going out of town?” I ask back. “Good point” she says and looks out the window staring at people passing by as the bus moves. I want to ask her a million different questions. Where are you going? Why? Did something happen? Are you okay?
We met on the first day of school and hit it off immediately. Even though we didn’t have that many similar interests we would always have something to talk about. Whether it’s running into each other on the way to school and walking together while laughing about what happened in class the previous day. Or “studying” together in the library until it closed, well not really studying but talking about our future. What we wanted to do after we graduate and our hopes and dreams. Talking to her never felt like work. It happened so naturally that we would lose track of time.
But that all changed soon enough. Our conversations became shorter and shorter as time went on and she felt more distant than before. More and more time passed and she continued to avoid me. My friends told me that she was giving me “hints” that she wasn’t interested anymore. But we were different than that. It was way more than flirtation, we were actually friends. But sometimes it felt more than that too.
“Okay tell me why you’re on this bus” she asks. There’s not that many people on the bus. There’s 3 people, a school girl towards the back and a couple sitting in the front. “I’ll tell you my reason if you tell me yours” I answer. “Okay change of topic” she says like she finally gave up. “How have you been lately?” I say for the first time in months. “Yeah can’t answer that question either.” she says with a hint of a smile. “So tell me, what can we talk about?” I say sounding a little angry without meaning to. I just really wanted to have a conversation with her like we used to. “Let’s talk about the financial crisis in Greece” she says. “Okay, Greece is broke as fuck and can’t pay back it’s depts. Next topic” I say and she finally laughs. Not an in hysterics laugh but a small one. But it’s still something. It feels good to hear her laugh again.
“I got it. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you choose?” she asks. She used to do this all the time. Ask completely random question that you wouldn’t otherwise talk about on a normal day. “Bonanno Pisano” I answer after a pause. “Bonanno? That sounds familiar” she says. “We learned about him last week in class. Remember?” I ask. “Oooh it’s blurry but it’s coming back to me. But just to make sure can you please explain to me who he is?” she says smiling unable to hide her embarrassment. “He was considered to be the architect of The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Still kinda is, but they’re not sure”. I remember this because it was taught during a class with my favorite teacher. He has so much charisma and genuinely cares about teaching and what he’s teaching. “What would you ask him?” she asks. “If he built it or not. If he did then how did he come up with the concept? How does he feel about it leaning? If he didn’t then how does he feel about being wrongfully assumed of building it?” I say. “If he was accused of building something that iconic must feel very conflicting. I mean, if he didn’t build it so he can’t feel good about it. But getting credit for that must not be a negative type of feeling. So conflicting.” She becomes quiet as if she’s considering his feelings for real. “What about you?” I ask. “Richard Linklater” she says. “The director? What would you talk about?” I ask. “Yup. I’d ask him about his movies and how he comes up with the concepts for it. What it’s like to work on such long projects” she says. “Or if he doesn’t want to talk about them we’d talk about life and what it’s all about.” she adds. “Okay I change my answer.” I say not knowing how she’d react. “If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be you” I say looking at her my heart beating fast. Being avoided by her for weeks and now we finally have some time together. Did I just ruin everything? “I’m free tonight?” she says in the form of a question. Is she actually giving me something? Is she starting to let me in again? Are we going back to us? “Well I’m free too.” I say trying to say nonchalantly but it comes out with the biggest smile on my face.
We continue talking about people we want to have dinner with, her with famous authors, photographers and artists and me with scientists and inventors. The conversation feels like it has gone on for hours. Eventually we fall into a comfortable silence. She’s looking out the window again, looking up at the sky, the clouds and the rain drops. The constant bump and hum of the bus makes me sleepy and I’m about to fall asleep when I feel her head on my shoulder. I feel her breathing and her falling asleep.