20 questions

“I’ll be late,” mom texted me as I stood waiting for her outside college. Pulling out my earphones, I plugged it into my phone and strolled down the street.

After a few minutes of walking, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I looked back to see a man standing behind me, presumably talking.

Gesturing for him to stop, I pulled my earphones out.

 

“Hi” he said politely. “Really sorry to bother you but where is the nearest coffee shop in the area?” he asked.

Since we were standing right opposite the place he was asking for, I was confused.

“Um, right there,” I said pointing to the café across the street.

“Oh damn! Okay thanks,” he said turning red.

I gave him a thumbs up before plugged my earphones in and started to walk.

 

A few seconds later, I felt another tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see the same man there.

“Hi, I’m Rodor. And that was the best pick-up line I had.”

Not knowing what to say, I stared at him blankly.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Amara.”

“Will you have coffee with me?”

“Now?”

“Yes.”

I agreed to go only because I had loads of time to kill.

Or at least that’s what I was telling myself.

 

We walked awkwardly together to the café across the street, and managed to find a table in the crowded room. After ordering, to make our conversation less awkward, Rodor suggested we play a game of 20 questions.

 

“What do you want to be in life,” he asked.

“A writer,” I said without thinking.

 

“Okay since I’m sure you write a lot, what part of a story is the hardest to write and why?” he asked, sipping on his coffee.

“I think for me, endings are the hardest. And it’s only because they’re false. Because nothing truly ends. Maybe it changes and transforms. Still, a novel must have a last page and a poem, a last line.”

“But ultimately everything ends right? Look at dinosaurs, their species have just stopped.”

“No, not really. Lizards of all kids are descendants of dinosaurs. Like I said, they’ve transformed. Their genes are still present here,” I said munching on a breadstick.

His game seemed to be working.

 

“Who is your favorite author?”

“Anais Nin.”

“I’ve never heard of her.”

“Google her. She’s definitely worth knowing of,” I smirked.

 

“How often do you lie?”

“Everybody lies,” I said smugly.

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“Because that’s a terrible question. I’m sure you wouldn’t answer it either if you were asked.”

“Fair enough. Okay let me rephrase… how do you know if a person is a good liar or not?” he asked after thinking hard.

“I think anybody who says they are a good liar is obviously not. Only because any legitimate liar would insist that they are honest about everything.”

He laughed. He had nice teeth. His dentist must have made a bomb by them. I was sure no one could have been born with such a perfect set or pearly whites.

 

“Going back to writing… what is easiest to write? Generally,” he said knowing he wasn’t clear.

“Hmmm, I think it’s far more easier to write about why something is terrible. Rather than why it’s good. You know, generally,” I said winking.

 

“Okay. What do you think about relationships?” he seemed particularly interested in my response for this question.

“I think, every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle. The person in power is usually the one who likes the other person less.”

“So in our situation, you would be the one in power?”

“Is this a trick question?” I laughed.

 

At that moment my phone rang. It was my mother and I knew she had reached, and was waiting.

“I’m coming,” I texted her and stood up to leave, handing him the money for my order. Looking at my expression, he knew better than to argue with me about it.

 

“My mom is here,” I said. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“We should do this again. It was fun.”

“Sure” I said. “But next time I ask the questions.”

“Deal. And by the way, you’re wrong about the power struggle theory.”

 

“Maybe you are too. After all, isn’t everyone wrong about everything just about all the time?” I said, smugly staring into his chocolate brown eyes before walking away.

The Space Cycle

15.02.17

On reaching the last step, I finally looked up to see a face smirking at me. With his twinkling brown eyes, perfectly messed up hair and pearly white grin, he had the smile that made you want to smile with him. Kabir.

“Need help?” he asked stretching out his hand.

“Did that thought not occur to you when you saw me struggle at the first step?” I asked lifting up my lehenga, climbing the final step and feeling a sense of accomplishment pass as an old Hindi song blasted through the speakers.

“It was quite hilarious when you were about to trip on that ninth step,” he joked as we walked inside the magnanimous foyer. In an almost mechanical way, he held out his arm as I took it to support myself while taking off my heels.

“What are you doing outside anyway?” I shouted above the music as my hand latched on his arm while I struggled to take off my shoe. “Aren’t you supposed to be inside helping out and let aunties swoon over you?”

“They asked me to pick up the sweet boxes and bangles and come and now I can’t find my shoes,” he shouted back frowning at the shoe racks that were almost overflowing with shoes of different colours, sizes and styles.

“Are they the beige Mojaris? There are so many of them here why did you decide to wear those today!” I said scanning through the racks as well.

“No actually they’re my Nikes,” he said as the music abruptly stopped and the room went dark. “Great. This is going to make it so much easier.”

Despite the darkness, I could tell he was rolling his eyes.

“You wore Nike shoes to a temple, left them in the shoe rack? And now you expect them not to be stolen?! You totally deserve this,” I said shaking my head, exasperated.

“Ok no, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that,” I said after a few minutes of awkward silence as he glared at me. “Nobody deserves their favourite shoes to be stolen, I would also hate anybody who told me that I deserved it if my favourite Adidas shoes were stolen. I’ll just ask the watchman…”

“You’re not just “anybody”. And I could never hate you,” he mumbled in a quiet yet audible tone just as we walked into the light, our hands still entwined.

15.02.10

“Stay,” Kabir said at 2 am, after we had finished watching Blue Valentine for the second time that week.

And stayed I did.

11.11.11

“I just want to be closer to the stars,” I whined as we sat in the balcony staring at the thick layer of dust blocking the sky while huddling under the blanket.

“Is that a writer’s metaphor for ‘I need some space’?” he asked not taking his eyes off me.

“No, but thanks for that. I could use it in a breakup piece,” I said instantly fishing out my phone and making a note.

The next day, Kabir planned a spontaneous trip to the nearest hill station. He knew I wasn’t a fan of spontaneity – I needed my time to settle in and get to know the place a little.

“Trust me, it will be worth it,” was all he said. And I went along.

That evening, after a day’s long drive past lush green meadows, we were at the only park on the highest hilltop.

“This is the closest you’ll get to the stars, without needing all that space,” he said quietly as we gazed at the sunset spin into a frosty twinkling night, while swinging on the creaking swing sets.

That night I realised that someone can make you smile only a number of times before you start to love them a little.

31.12.12

He was there when I turned four. He was there when I turned fourteen.

We were always too similar. Like the same side of a coin. Twin Earth signs. When we loved, it was beautiful. When we fought, we fought with the same claws.

“Will you still love me when I am unlovable?” I had asked waking him up one night, when we were supposed to be watching Stay.

The next morning, I woke up to an empty bed, half empty closet and a single text message.

“You know, I remember the exact moment I knew I was in love with you. You weren’t looking at me. You were stargazing.”

That’s the thing about earthquakes. They don’t know how to be gentle. Most of the time, they only know how to destroy.

Boy next door

12:00 am

 

S: The moon looks beautiful tonight doesn’t it?

K: I can’t see it. Your ugly building is blocking my view.

 

12:03 am

 

K: I see it now. I don’t think I have seen the moon this yellow before.

S: It’s a full moon.

K: Your head kinda looks like the moon from the back.

K: A smaller version though.

K: Okay I was kidding. Stop hiding behind the wall now.

 

12:04 am

 

S: Look now! The clouds make it look like one of those creepy scenes in horror movies

K: Like the time of the night for werewolves.

S: Exactly.

 

12:06 am

 

S: Okay stop howling. You’re going to wake the entire neighborhood.

K: It wasn’t me.

S: Go inside.

K: Okay, fine. I’ll stop.

K: Hey look, a heart!

S: Where?!

K: In the sky, obviously. Idiot. Stop looking around.

S: I knew that.

S: And that’s not a heart. It looks more like the beak of a bird trying to steal the moon.

K: What kind of bird tries to steal the moon?

 

12:07am

 

S: An evil one.

K: It looks like a heart trying to protect itself by being really sharp at the edges.

S: What kind of heart is so huge and protective of itself?

 

12:08 am

 

K: Your kind.

 

12:10 am

 

K: What kind of person stares at a romantic text message for two minutes and doesn’t reply?

S: I forgot you could see me.

K: Answer – An evil one.

S: Are you calling me evil?

K: Mojo Jojo IS your spirit animal.

S: As opposed to what, Bubbles?

K: Hey! That was confidential information!

S: So what, your mission is to save the world from me?

 

12:12 am

 

K: Quite the opposite actually.

 

 

23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23

23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23

Wander Onwards

Marriage

As 2013 wraps up, I’ve been noticing more and more people getting engaged and/or married under the age of 23.

I get it.

It’s cold outside… you want to cuddle and talk about your feelings… life after graduation is a tough transition… so why not just cut to the chase and get married, right?  It’s hip. It’s cool. You get to wear clothing that wouldn’t normally be socially acceptable at the dive bar you frequent with the $5 beers.  Eff it. YOLO. YOMO! You only marry once…

Oh wait.

The divorce rate for young couples is more than twice the national average. Divorce is no longer a staple in a midlife crisis, but rather, something that SEVENTEEN Magazine should probably be printing on. Headlines could read,

“How to budget for your prom AND your wedding in the same year!”

“What’s HOT: Kids raising Kids.”

“Why your Mom doesn’t really…

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And he is…

We were all snorkeling. The four of us – mom, dad, Ryan, and me. It was beautiful. Looking at all the fish through the bright blue shades of water, feeling the slightest touch of their fins as they pass by, probably going about their normal routine. The slightest sensation when they feel some presence and skittle away – in a flash, yet with so much elegance; almost as if they are a part of the water. Causing it to flow.

The bright red coral, a stark contrast against the blue, with tiny yellow fish lounging close by. The ocean – a world in itself, nonchalant of our existence. Spinning around freely, I looked at the bubbles and tried to imitate their movements as they floated upwards in exact circles. I burst a few with my finger but decided to let them go their course, with the luxury of time – not hurrying up to get to the surface; before a few were disturbed by a face. Like us, wearing a snorkeling mask and exhaling the most perfect bubbles that moved around luxuriously, he swam towards me. Taking me by my hand, he led me to a cave, not entering, probably waiting for me to nod my head in agreement.

Pointing to my parents through the blueness, I indicated that they were the ones he needed to ask. He pointed upwards signaling that he would be waiting at the top. Flapping his legs, he lazily moved away making him look like he belonged to this beautiful universe.

We all came to the surface, pulling off our masks and gasping for breath. Taking in the view that surrounded us – water everywhere and hills far in the horizon, we bobbed on the surface. He swam to us – his movements quick and fluid. The only sounds that I heard was my heart beating incredibly loud, louder than the waves crashing all around us and louder than the calmness of the entire place.

He asked me to explore a cave with him. And all I could think about was how brave he was for asking me that in front of my family. My parents gave each other puzzled looks and Ryan giggled. They didn’t agree to let me go because they didn’t think it was safe for me to go with a stranger, but what irked me was his choice of still sticking with us after they refused.

I fell in love with him at that moment. Not in the cliché ‘love at first sight’ kind of way but the kind of love that comes when someone makes a moment utterly beautiful and breathtaking. I wanted to hold on to it and carry it with me forever. It was just those moments that we spent in what seemed like a completely different universe, with so much beauty and such breathtaking views around us, that made everything so meaningful.

And in the end, I never got his name or number. But his sunglasses had crystalized salt on them and reflected the sea. And I remember thinking – “He’ll be my favorite memory”.

And he is.

He is.

Flashes

Sometimes I wish it would all go away
The memories, feelings and mostly the pain.
But it comes back in flashes
Like still pictures in between my lashes.

I remember every move you made
Waiting for it to fade
As my eyes are set free and the tears roll down
While I was sitting there dolled up in my ball gown.

What you do to me

Like a plant growing from the crack of a building

I could feel a part of my soul

growing fond of you, with each passing day.

 

Nights never felt lonely again

and early mornings were the best

with dewdrops everywhere

I could feel your presence in the air.

 

It felt like springtime come alive

even during the monsoons.

The trees behind the lake looked denser

and the clouds seemed to be on our side

creating shapes of you dancing like Klive.

 

It was like a window of dreams

that opened for me every night.

You always managed to take my sleep away

while stroking my forehead

and reciting stories of varied themes.