The tepid warmth from slatted sunbeams on my face woke me up.
There is a sweet moment of disillusionment when one wakes up from deep sleep. The mind takes some time to recall, collect itself, wake up, even though the eyes have already woken up to the world. I was savouring that moment. For several minutes I just lay there, observing the suspended dust particles dancing in the air, hearing the blood throb in my ears, watching the shimmery sunlight colluding with the shadows in the room to create fascinating illusions. The morning’s circus was on and I was enjoying every second of it.
Then memory ruined it all.
I began to recall the events of last night. The conversation between Suhana and her Father, his dislike for everything that made me ‘me‘, the breakup, my meltdown… You. Oh God! You!!
Who are you? My mind screamed, as your images started pouring back into my consciousness.
I got out of bed, my head still a jumble of images of you. Funny how you had made such an impression in so short a time. This had never happened before. I shook my head literally to shake the fog you had brought on, but you stayed put, buzzing in my brain like a song stuck in the head, your voice humming through me while I brushed my teeth and relieved myself. It was getting irritating… Irritating because I thought I’d never see you again. I had a hangover from you even without tasting you.
I lumbered out of the bathroom and into the kitchen where my roomie had stuck a sticky note on the refrigerator –
Will be out with my girl today…
Your turn to buy the groceries and do the laundry…
I grumbled profanities at him. Here I was in the throes of a double-heartache and he was out making merry love with his toothy girlfriend. Jackass! No, to be fair, he was a nice guy. When I came home after the break up with Suhana, he let me share his crate of beer while I uttered not a word, not a word, about why I was hurting. But guys are like that. Words are for girls, mostly. Guys just need booze and a quiet place to grieve silently.
Since there wasn’t even milk at home to make chai, I quickly threw on some clothes and rode to the nearest supermarket for the week’s groceries. There’s something calming about aimlessly walking through aisle after aisle of a store, staring at things you never noticed before, reading labels, ingredients, and disclaimers you would never otherwise notice except when you’re desperately looking for something to get your mind off your sorrows.
Was I hurting that much? Yes, I was. Suhana had been my girlfriend for nearly 6 years. She wasn’t my first but she was the first I had been so close to that I had seriously begun to contemplate a future with her. That is, till I met her parents and found out just how much they hated me. It had been all downhill since then. I knew it was only a matter of time. But still, since last night I couldn’t help but recall our special moments – sweet nothings, kisses, hushed chats over phone calls, wordless conversations, stupid fights, makeup love – all those little moments that made our relationship special.
Get over it, stupid! I told myself and turned back to the last aisle where the breads were lined up, when I noticed from the corner of my eye, that someone was watching me. I ignored the feeling for a few seconds, but when the someone didn’t stop staring, I had to answer that stare.
It was you!
I blinked several times in disbelief. You were still standing there, dressed in cute white pyjamas with red hearts and bunnies on it, coupled with a tee-shirt that proclaimed, in doodle verse no less, ‘I ‘. Well girl, I I had found you! I mean, not that I was looking and not that I was harboring hopes of ever finding you again, but ever since I’d seen you first, my heart couldn’t stop wondering about who you were. I wanted to know more about you. No! I wanted you. And now that Suhana and me were history, I didn’t see why ‘we’ couldn’t happen.
I took a few tentative steps towards you and you didn’t run away. Phew! I smiled and said a shy ‘Hi!’, and you responded by a nod of your head and an upward tilt of your cherried lips (did you always wear that lip-gloss?)
I tried to strike a conversation, “Uh…We met at the…”
“Salon”, you interjected and stopped just there. I scratched my head. Dammit, I was blushing beet red!
“Yeah, ha, ha… What a coincidence, right?” You gave me a ghost of a smile. I had an inkling you were a (wo)man of few words but it was more difficult getting a decent sentence out of you than finding Alladin’s treasure.
I tried again. “So… you live nearby?”
“I’m not comfortable enough with you just yet to answer that.”
Wham! And you did an about-turn and started picking up some greens. I regarded your back in dazed stupefaction.
Wow, that was rude, I thought. Or were you dumb enough to ask a personal question? I tried to justify your response. I failed. But I hadn’t given up yet.
Afraid of losing my chance of ever making a decent conversation with you again, I made a last ditch effort, “Will you be coming back to the Salon for that cut?”
“I don’t know. Depends…”, you replied mysteriously, walking towards the check-out counters, without giving me a glance. I followed you even though half of my shopping was still left undone. Your monosyllables and mysterious talk were, frankly, beginning to piss me off.
“On what?” I asked, fervently praying for a decent answer, queuing up behind you.
“On whether I’m back in that area.” Again, you didn’t make eye contact.
Dammit! What did you think I was doing? Did I come off as a sleazy stalker or an over-enthu salesman to you? I was just trying to make conversation!
I decided I was cheesed off enough to let you go…forever. You were acting pricey and I hate such girls who play too hard to get for no reason. You had plenty of reasons to play hard to get but I had my pride too. So I walked to the next check-out counter and queued up behind someone else.
A little later you were joined by an older man, who paid for the stuff you had picked up. The two of you were conversing with the ease of people who have been long familiar with each other.
Was he the reason why you weren’t talking to me properly? Was he your father? Were you afraid of talking to boys when he was around? He must be her father, I reasoned with myself. He looked the right age. And just like that, I had forgiven you for your weird behavior and your snub. In my head, you were back to being the cute ‘you‘ I had first met and I was back to ‘wanting‘ you.
You two started towards the exit. I can’t even begin to describe the sudden emptiness that descended upon me while I was watching you leave, for the second time since that first time. There we go again, I thought ruefully. Another chance of getting to know you squandered by my own stupidity.
But just when I had begun to lose hope, you looked back right before you exited the store, and gave me a glorious smile.
And hope was renewed in my heart…
To be continued…
©Pradita Kapahi, 2017.
Picture Credits: http://www.pixabay.com