Chew on it.

Chances are all we have.

Category: Ordinary Lives

Ordinary Lives – 8.

She look at him in the darkness. The heat of his body hadn’t cooled down yet. His breathing was slow and childlike now. The weight of his shin on her foot.
The cars drove through puddles. A clocked ticked 10 feet away. Her only light was an abstract reflection on the ceiling.
She leaned closer to him, her hand under his chest. The smell of soap from an hour ago (or was it two?) had been adulterated with saltier, tangier elements.
For a second she refused to acknowledge, she wanted to push herself apart and sleep on her own. On a less sweaty bed after a bath.
Then she buried her nose in his cheek.
Years of distances and awkwardnesses vanished. Her lip found the corner of his. Like forgiveness. Like a fruit of patience. The reality and the softness of his body made her heart beat itself against her lungs. Beat till it burst or beat till her lungs gave way. Beat more than it would in the moments that they loved each other’s bodies.
She closed her eyes and fell asleep – out of exhaustion and relief.
An hour later, he fell asleep too.

Ordinary Lives- 7.

The sofa stood out in his room.

The colour was his choice, and the single seaters that came with it were facing the TV that he had brought in. The off-white was a point of debate because she was scared it may show stains. But he had  insisted.

“Stains are caused by kids, and I don’t see any in the next couple of years.”

He had spilled chocolate sauce that very day on it.

The bookshelf had neat separations. Her fictions were lined along the middle shelves and his reference books along the top. That hadn’t been a debate at all. He could reach the top shelves. The lights were perfectly agreed upon too. As sultry as the amber looked, they’d need the white for reading. They still kept the amber lamps fixed.

The rosewood cupboards he’d picked, the simplistic chairs. The space for another bookshelf.

Signs of him all over the floor. Where he’d stand, where he’d wait.

Where he’d watch her.

It had been a month since he’d laid his eyes on the house. Or her.

It had been a month since he’d picked a book, standing right behind her while she picked hers. Only while she picked hers.

A month since she’d heard the house smile.

She sat on the seat beside the dull brown stain of chocolate. Waiting for the minutes to pass. She could hear herself breathe, and in that sound she waited for the door to open. She closed her eyes, when it dawned upon her that she may miss something.

She waited to be wanted again. To be put in a place that she wasn’t flustered to the point of muteness. Ennui had passed and grown into a coma of her thoughts. She waited for the world to fall into place again.

For closure.

Her dead thoughts scratched her mind. She now heard her heart beating in her ears. Like the pause after a long, long run.

A moment later, as if on cue, as if the universe felt a wave of sympathy on her, and only to drive the listlessness that sunk her away-

He knocked. His eyes on the door-knob, his body completely still. His hand hanging in anticipation to knock again. Twice.

She held back a second, disbelieving her ears. But he was home.

She was alive to it.

Ordinary Lives- 6.

She couldn’t stop giggling.

His exasperation grew. Her dimple deepened with every rush of ideas in her head.

He rolled his eyes.

She took a deep breath and paused to look at him. The smile wouldn’t go off her face.

His familiar frown, the brown of his eyes turning into caffeine. The Silver has just started growing, and years later she’d be tucked in a bed, his cheek in her hand, his nose against her neck, and she’d talk about this night. Not this moment- not this pause between his question and her answer.

His pout began to grow and his hands went into his pocket.

“This is uncomfortable.”

She looked at him harder.

“In what way?”

“I’ve asked you something. You start giggling. I need an answer.”

She bit her lower lip to stop bursting into another spurt of giggles.

“What will I do when you’re gone?”

“What you do at home even today.”

“Dad gives me pocket money.”

“I earn enough to give you that and run the house.”

“And if I forget the keys?”

“We’ll keep one at the neighbour’s.”

What was with her? He was opening the door he’d never known had existed within him, and all she was doing was staring through him.

“Maid?”

“Already there.”

“Cook?”

“I know how to. You should learn too.”

“I don’t want to.”

“But I’ll be away.”

She’s saying a yes.

“Okay Ma said I had to learn any way.”

They looked around for the next question.

“Washing machine?”

It’s a yes.

“Yes.”

She started giggling again. This time, it was deliberate and slow. Like she was trying to say something.

“Don’t go away for too long.”

“I never want to.”

The curve of his lip choked her and she started coughing. He grabbed a glass of water and made her swallow it, rubbing her back, unable to believe his luck. His last straw had stayed rooted while he grabbed at it.

Her chin on his shoulder was the only reminder of anything else in the world existed apart from the light that flooded his eyes, and lit up his face.

He threw away the pills that night. She broke the news to her family.

Ordinary Lives- 5.

She felt his hand on her wrist. And opened her eyes.

She was sitting upright.

She turned to the bedside, felt about in the darkness and put on her phone to check the time. The bright screen made her blink. 4.38 AM.

“I don’t know.”

They looked at each other in the dark.

5.25 AM.

In the fairy-light kitchen, he poured her a glass of orange juice.

“I don’t know.”

He looked away. He hadn’t asked for an explanation.

“You weren’t home. The baby was on its way. I was scared. You weren’t answering the phone. You promised you’d be there.”

“Do you want one?”

“No.”

She hadn’t had a sip of her juice.

“I won’t be able to have it alone. Raise it alone. I’ll be too scared. What if it turns out like me?”

He got off his chair. She cringed at the way the legs dragged against the floor. Now she really craved for some juice. Her throat was feeling dry. She reached for the glass and withdrew her hand.

Withdrew. Damage control.

Lying through her teeth. Babies of the future were little to worry about.

Nights of waking up at odd hours flooded her mind as she tried to focus on his fluid movements around the kitchen. Noiselessly rearranging the world around him. The cotton leg of his shorts folding ever so slightly. But she couldn’t concentrate.

Pasts exist because presents exist and time exists. Laughter that turned to whispers that turned to moans and sighs. Vehement arguments about societal structure and chicken recipes dissolving into nothing because one end of the phone giggled. Promises and baby names. Nights of pillow talk. Deadlines, and dead days. Realisation that tore across letters and conversations, and dryness in mouths, once slick with affection. A heart broken and a story left incomplete. The collateral damage would be suffered by sleep, and a man who was trying to keep his mind off her unmoving hands.

He watched as the scenes passed through her eyes. He never felt more helpless.

Ordinary Lives- 4.

“What’s that word? I sit next to you and I see you. But I’m not looking. I’m thinking of you in the future or in the past. More like how I will be when you sit a certain way. How I defined what I wanted you to be like. I defined the homes and I define the places and what we’ll do. I always leave what you feel as blank. You don’t seem to say much. Just do what you need to. It’s us by me. Then I look at you and only because you have a three dimensional existence do I feel disappointed. That all that I imagined right here culminated to this. To us on a bed. Or across the table. Or looking away from each other. Is it habit? Yes. Habit. It’s a way we’re used to. I don’t even realise you aren’t looking at me. Because I am looking at the grey of your sideburns. How it grows. Do you know sideburns have roots? And they branch out to your hair. I like how they do that. So beautiful. Because I remember not having seen that a year ago. That time we were at the posh birthday place with too much food and too many lights trying too hard to be like a dhaba? I knew it’d take a while but it won’t be too long before the little grey turns silver. Will you stand me if I don’t colour my hair, I wondered. If there would be a younger girl with lovely curls then. I don’t know. It’s silly. But it’s there. You should be flattered.”

She looked from the ceiling at him. His cheek pressed against her palm. His uneven stubble rough against her.

“Why am I trying to flatter you?”

“So you make it easier for me to cope with the fact that I got a better deal than I deserved.”

She looked back at the ceiling. Looking at a shape like a seven. Feeling his nose brush against her neck and rest there.

“You don’t make sense.”

“You make beautiful cabbage.”

“Will your boss have a problem?”

“With the cabbage?”

She felt his eyebrows raise.

“What? No. With the leave.”

“I’d planned this before the last time.”

They smiled into the darkness.

 

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