The conversation moves to politics. You don’t have much to add. You focus, instead, at the couple in the corner of the room. You focus on how animated she is in conversation. Her beautiful skin, her tanned arms, boobs the size of peaches. She has the body of a greek goddess, and she knows it. No wonder his hand is always resting on her waist. He says something witty. She laughs loudly. He blushes. She leans on him and kisses him on his cheek. He blushes some more.
You’re wondering if she’s any good in bed.
Hey you lovebirds, someone in their group calls out to you and your husband. Come and join us here. Let me introduce you to some of my other friends.
A short while later, you’re sitting across the table from him, flashing an evil smile.
A drop of sweat falls from his balding head as he sees your skirt ride up just a little as you cross your legs. Slowly. Deliberately.
She looks hurt. Your job here is done.
Let’s go, you say at two a.m. on a Friday night, almost pukish at the thought of spending another weekend in Delhi. Let’s get out. We never do anything impulsive, you say. Chalo, he says. Abhi? You can’t believe you’re actually doing this.
Five minutes later, you’re packing an overnight bag and dumping it in the boot of your one-year-old-highway-virgin car, double-checking to make sure you have all your papers in place, and driving off.
Where to, he asks. You name the first place that pops into your head at that moment. Kasauli it is.
Thirty minutes later, you stop over at a tiny little eatery on the road and announce do chai, ek aloo parantha. You fall asleep as you wait. When you wake up, he’s watching you intently.
Within seconds you are both smiling and holding hands, Hindi-picture style.
You finish your paranthas and chai and head home.
Me, or her? You scream at him, vaguely aware of all the eyes on you. You have to choose, you know! Me, or her?
He looks at you bewildered. For a while he is super quiet. You are sure he will pick you. He’s your brother and wouldn’t care if you suck at cricket.
But he doesn’t.
She does her stupid tilly-lilly dance. You stick your tongue out at her in response. They high-five. You look at him like a hurt kitten, but he doesn’t even pretend to look apologetic.
Confidence slowly leaks out as the crack in your heart widens.
Here you are again, slouching in your chair, head bent over your laptop, trying to type at the same speed as your thoughts. A million things a minute, no less!
You stop to breathe for a while. One thing at a time, please, and you shift your focus to where it all began. You think about the man who lived across the street when you were thirteen, who would sit in his balcony and read the newspaper every day. How he looked at you from across the street on a winter afternoon and how you read his mind.
Later that evening, you slipped on the road as you brought home groceries. He was there, right behind you, to arrest your fall. You got all coy and lady-like, and meekly whispered a “thank you uncle”. At home, you thought about how his hand around your bare waist felt warm and rough and moist and electrifying at the same time.
Years later, you finally gather the strength to admit that you weren’t about to fall until you realized he was walking behind you.
Less than an hour after you’ve published your first post, you’re wondering if it’s too soon to write again. Maybe it is. If people knew who you were, they would totally judge you; but the truth is they don’t, so you can forgive yourself for feeling almost smug as you start typing.
You love, love, love being able to say whatever you want. You’ve never felt this liberated before!
So you make a list of things you can finally talk about:
- What a coward you are! You still smile nervously when you run into your cousins, but do not have the courage to tell them you remember.
- How fiercely protective you have been of your nieces; you won’t even let them sit in your husband’s lap.
- How you really feel about all the men you’ve been with, and the women you fancied.
- How you didn’t know how to pronounce chic until, like, two weeks ago.
- You real first kiss. The one nobody knows about.
- The real reason why your marriage broke up.
Here you choke. Warm, wet inhibitions begin to flow through your eyes and you cry like you have never cried before.
Maybe someday you will write a book about the mess that has been your life.