“How am I looking, tell me, shona?” she asked her sister, Shristi, placing a delicate hair strand on her left ear.“You’re always pretty, Kriti di” Shristi smiled at her with braces.Kriti turned to her and praised her dressing sense as Shristi always chose their dresses.
As her sister finished her appraisal and bid her goodbye for a party, Shristi caught her reflection in the mirror. “We’re sisters, really?” she thought.
She ran her sun kissed palms on face circling her pink pimples that were witnessing teenage. She smiled at herself but found braces smiling back at her. Her big eyes hidden behind glasses felt wet. She controlled, echoed to her heart,” My beautiful day will come, I will make sure it comes” and went back to her books.
You don’t realise it now
But when on a lonely day
You will sit staring the ground
And life would be changed.
It always did.
After a small conversation she stopped and said, “Mere Hindi achi nahi hai”. “I am not good at Hindi”.
He swallowed adjustments and replied,”It’s okay”.
But she sheepishly continued,”Bahut achi hai”. “Because I am very good at it”.
He laughter with relief and said, “Badhiya”.
And they continued.
“So you found her, Rishee?”,Anjali said to me with those days in her eyes.
“Who?”, I answered hiding the acknowledgment in my mind.
“Anjali 2.0”, she said in air taking sip of her favorite green apple vodka and I felt my lips tightening.
“So what about your nth breakup party here..” , I said bitterly and instantly grouted guilt.
“You know..I feel pity on you..”
I grinned waiting for the sharp words ahead.
“She will be your mirror showing you didn’t get me..”, she said and cried a laughter.
I knew nothing to do just to laugh with her.
“Can’t you stay for one more day..?”, she asked looking at him pleasingly.
” C’mon, don’t act like a child.. You’re a strong gal..!!”, He said walking back to room from the balcony.
“Yeah I am.. But I am also a girl who fears tomorrow..”
“I can’t stay…”, he said knowing he has nothing else to say.
” I should leave then..”, she answered with heavy but empty heart.
“I may fail”, she said morosely.
“C’mon, I will help you!”, he assured.
“I am afraid to cheat”
“Oho! Nothing would happen believe me”
“Yeah! I do”
“Write fast..!”, he commanded as the invigilator moved to the other aisle.
“Yea..trying..”, she said while writing with trembling fingers.
“Woah! It’s fun..I didn’t know I can cheat too”, she said gleefully and winked at him.
He laughed feeling confused how to take her away from her last said betraying words.
It’s a usual-fine working day. I was sticking onto the mode of my hectic office schedule. It’s quite boring, I know. Still I have to do it. While searching for a worksheet from my cabin, I had seen my cell vibrated and flashed, with an unknown number, on the adjacent table. I froze before picking up the call.
“Yes”, a female voice, that too who knows my name, was on the other side. My heart smiled.
Suddenly I coughed, though it was an unintentional response. I felt a little odd, not feeling nostalgic, when she, my ex-girlfriend, called at that moment.
“Shall we meet today evening?” She asked as if she wanted to meet me urgently.
I had a busy schedule ahead, but I replied with a ‘yes’ without going for a second thought. She dropped the call and it was then I realized what I told her— why should I meet her after ending up everything? Anyway, I decided to meet her in the evening like we, nope, like I said.
I called her back and asked at where we should meet. We agreed to meet up in a well-known coffee-house within the city at 6 o’ clock in the evening.
She was my high school sweetheart. We had a special tuning in between us which no one could deny in our school. I loved her sincerely, but she had an over doubtful nature that ate our relationship later, and then we both got separated because of the unequalled reason that we both admitted into different colleges in different cities. Since then we never contacted each other as our relationship didn’t end up on a sweet lovely tale. The day when we broke up finally was quite dramatic in life; I wanted to forget all those memories forever. I didn’t realise we have travelled a six-year journey to talk to each other again.
“Shall we leave now?”
My colleague, Sarthak, who didn’t know what was running in my mind, asked me. I came back to the present— sitting on my chair, regardless of caring about an hour just passed by.
“Oh yeah! I have to go to city today, Sarthak. Drop me at the bus stop”
“As you say, Sir” he fake smiled and left my cabin.
He dropped me at the bus stop like he said. I walked into the coffee-house, which was located nearer by, and sat somewhere on the corner for a table of two. I looked out through the glass of the coffee-house. Minutes passed. I had a sudden look through the time. It’s getting late. I looked out through the window, again. I saw her. I had instant goose bumps seeing her at a short distance. I failed to understand why.
She was carelessly walking towards the coffee-house. She loved that. She entered in. She looked around and saw me sitting there. Her black hair hardly touched her shoulders which reminded me of our fights over her frequent haircuts. I preferred her to have long hair, but she always revolted to agree upon with the wish I had. My perfect slim gal had lost weight, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t want her to enter the coffee-house. I feared of losing to glare at her. But everything has its end.
“Hello, Sakshi” though I longed to ask our usual queries: “How are you, my love?”
She greeted happily and I smiled, too. I adored her light floral top with blue jeans. There’s time when she used to choose whatever I wore. I always loved her taste. Her lips were getting wet quickly as she drank her coffee. I knew which coffee it was. After all, some things about human never changes.
“How am I looking today?”
I laughed at such silly query from her. It’s her patent question whenever we used to meet.
She shyly smiled.
We talked so much, literally so much. Every time she smiled I tried to find an answer to an unknown query, she had in her sad eyes.
“Tell me! How’re you? How is everything going on with you? How’s life? How’s your girlfriend?”
“Umm…I don’t have one” I retorted. Being after 6 long years, still I couldn’t find another mate for me.
She laughed, “You haven’t changed, Mr. Shy Sachin.. Remember? Even in our case I was the one who striked a conversation. I smiled back at her and we continued talking about everything from Indian politics to her favourite holiday spots. It’s when we’re about to leave she said “I just have a month here”
“I mean, a month with you,” She replied, so casually, like asking me which color to wear.
“Oh.. I see”
“You must include me in your schedule now. At least for this month,”
She smiled as she said it. I felt confused twofold. But I was sure that I couldn’t say no.
After that day, every 6 o’clock in the evening I was with her. I noticed that her eyes got more glittered, like earlier before, with time. I observed her dark circles below her eyes. Everyday– “How am I looking today?”– was her first query. I didn’t give an objection against my usual answer; I reluctantly said she was beautiful. She got a bob haircut. I didn’t say anything. I just wanted to be with her.
By the end of the month she suffered from sickness. I took 14 days leave from my office schedules. My friends were shocked as I had never taken such a long vacation. I started visiting where she lived. When I entered her flat for the very first time, I thought I had entered a hospital because of the smell prevailing there. But I stayed silent.
I felt odd with her growing sickness. There’s no sign of improvement in her. Slowly, we stopped going out, instead we stayed at her house.
I asked her one night when she leaned on my shoulder and was reading our favourite book, The Great Gatsby, for me.
“Are you alright, love?” I asked her, but she had already fallen asleep. I stayed together with her that night. It’s our first night together.
When I brought tea to her room, she asked me again “Am I looking beautiful?”
She had just risen up from her bed. Her hair was all messed up. Her loose tee showed her weary neck bone. Her eyes had swallowed although she took a proper sleep but I found peace in her presence. And I said “yes”. Tears were shedding from me. I hid my feelings inside.
I felt like she’s hiding her pain from me, too. I helped her to get to the washroom. She looked too weak and old. I wanted to cry but she smiled like she used to during our old school days. That afternoon she told me about her mom’s accident and death. I realised, while spending time with her, I almost forgotten to ask everything about her family. She cried in my embrace. I was sad for her mother but felt good as she’s in my arms.
Her mother had raised Sakshi on her own. Her father was our family friend and a martyr who died when Sakshi was studying in fourth standard. I have always respected her mother. The way she supported Sakshi to conquer her vision to become an architect was appreciable. It’s my first time to see a parent to know her child dream even before she had witnessed it.
It’s fourth day of a new month. After dressing up I left home to meet her. As she opened the door, I felt embarrassed. She’s awfully beautiful today. She wore a grey color lightly shimmered dress. I looked at her face. Little makeup had done magic. She looked like an angel– exactly an angel.
“Do I look beautiful today?”
“You’re my angel”
Her weakened legs were caged in high heels. She couldn’t walk properly. Hence, I carried her inside. I loved the way from her door to room. It’s a lifetime in some moments for us. We made love. When we’re about to sleep she gave me a box. I insisted to open it but she asked me to do it in morning.
She never woke up. My girl took her last breathes in my arms. When I took her to hospital doctor told me about her prolonged cancer. My heart already knew it though she never told me and I didn’t ever ask. I didn’t want to die before her.
I opened the box. It’s our house she dreamed of. Her note read “I kept my promise to grow old with you”.
Play our song
And I wanna take you in rain
Play our words
And I wanna cry out with veiled pain
Play our memories
And I wanna come to you again
Play our eyes
And I wannna set them on flame
Play it tonight
today it feels so right
It’s uncertain again.