The attraction was instant. The sparks, very evident.
Our first date was on the first day we met.
He told me all about himself, masking one small detail.
He didn’t know how much I hated lies.
The embers of our attraction were doused with mistrust.
And its ashes still leave a grey mark on my heart.
He reminded me of someone.
I did not want to take our chats forward. The memories were too painful.
He encouraged me to love myself more. He asked me to click a selfie.
And admired the mole on my chin to bits.
The selfies went on.
Until one day, he asked me who else gets to see this.
The selfies are now just for me.
School friends turned into college classmates, who shared a bench.
The proximity surpassed boundaries.
I was hopelessly falling for his charm.
I did think he liked someone else though.
And he suspected that I liked him too.
It was in the way I looked at him. A dead giveaway.
He asked her to confirm it anyway.
And I confessed my feelings, foolishly, to the girl of his dreams.
I cried my heart out at his ruthlessness.
He said he loved me.
He loved his mother even more, which was expected.
His mother couldn’t stand to lose him.
She caught us together, one day.
And dismissed our teenage romance.
He tried telling her how he loved me.
How perfect we were.
He made one mistake.
He lied about my ethnicity.
The real me.
I could not bear to live with that lie.
I could not bear to kiss those lips anymore.
He noticed me reading my novel.
A train journey that got more interesting with each passing station.
His efforts to woo me were matched with lacklustre enthusiasm.
He kept in touch.
And chatted everyday.
I shared every little detail with him.
I finally fell for his charm.
And he told me about a colleague he was trying to charm.
A heart closed its doors that day.
And is still waiting for someone strong enough to tear through its high walls with his bare hands.
The rains in South Mumbai gave no indication of the impending deluge in the suburbs.
It was only when our college asked us to head home did I realise things were getting serious.
She had to leave for classes.
I asked her to head to Marine Drive Railway Station and see how things were.
I did not have a mobile phone back then.
I told her if things were bad, come back to college… we would get through this together.
Or in about 10 minutes, I would call her from a PCO and join her wherever she was.
She did not return as planned. I thought maybe the trains were running.
I decided to call her.
Turns out, things were bad.
I could hear the roaring of a bus engine, though.
She’d taken off.
I reached home after a whole 24 hours of bad thoughts and shaken nerves.
That night, the high tide waters swept away a chunk of my trust.
Things would never be the same again.
His business was slow.
His ‘sev puri’ wasn’t that great.
The regular, popular ‘chaat’ vendor was back from his 3 month leave.
But I’d developed a keen sense of loyalty with him.
And he watched, as I dissed the other for him everyday.
Until one day, among the 10 rupee notes he gave me, I noticed a note, burnt by a cigarette butt, well hidden in that bundle.
His smile disguised his intentions.
That evening, I slyly passed on that note to a cab driver.
And the cycle continued.