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.
It’s strange how the sight of a blue-white hawaii chappal under a teakwood dining table can break your heart and mend your life all at once.
A quaint little Sarojini Nagar house on the ground floor with a big-ass teakwood dining table and yellowish-white curtains. A seven-year old version of you lying on the floor, naked. Your twelve year old cousin grinning as he watches his brother dry-hump you. Your eye focused on the blue-white hawaii chappal under the dining table.
The crying after, the pain, the horror of it all. No wonder your seven-year old brain blocks it out.
Years later, the memory just comes flooding back on a lazy Sunday morning as you’re sipping chai that your cousin just brought you and your eye wanders to a hawaii chappal under the dining table. That dining table.
And what do you do? Start blogging about it. Anonymously.
The chai just sits there in the mug long after you’ve left.