Nani’s Garden

The strong smell of freshly brewed coffee was the most appealing part of it all. Nani’s house was the most soothing place for me. I could just sit on the porch with that strong coffee and watch the squirrel play on the mango tree in the centre of the garden. Relief washed over me when Nani came and sat next to me. She smelled of medicated talcum powder and incense after her evening bath and puja and that for me was the best combination of fragrances in the world.

The township was small with a large number of trees scattered throughout it and sitting on the chair in backyard porch chair it felt like staring into a jungle. I never liked utilizing my vision during my lying around time in my favourite spot in the world so I closed my eyes and let the surrounding sink in me through my senses. The sound of Nani chopping and slicing the fruits for the fruit cream I asked for brought a smile to my face. That woman would really give me anything I ask for if I agree not to wear my ripped jeans and crop tops in front of her.

I could still hear the squirrel rustling through the leaves of the tree and the soft wind that kind-of created a harmony in the air. I took a deep breath to gather every inch of the moment before I had to go back home the next morning.

The space was a riot of fragrances. One fighting the other for dominance. The deep breath filled my senses with all of them at once and it felt beautiful. The smell of green chillies was the most dominant one. It came from the freshly planted green chilly plant in Nani’s tiny kitchen garden. Being a fan of spicy food, my mouth instantly started watering.

The gardener had just watered the plants in the garden and even though the numerous flowers were all emitting striking scents, my senses were attracted to the sour scent of the soaked leaves of the lemon plant and the smell of the wet mud. People wait for the monsoon to get hit by this intoxicating fragrance; I say why not water your own garden once each day?

It was almost time for sunset and in the plains it was not a big deal for anyone. The sun neither artistically set behind the mighty mountains nor did the sea swallow it. So, I decided to keep my eyes shut. I knew it was time for sunset because I could hear a swarm of birds chirping in the sky eager to go home, unlike me.

“You don’t want to go home tomorrow do you?” Nani asked in a loud voice because of her hearing impairment. I just nodded my head with my eyes still closed. Somehow closing my eyes shut out reality for a while. Memories of this happy place could be better preserved through fragrances. Recalling these fragrances would be of great help when the stench of alcohol and smoke overpowers me back at home. The stench of alcohol coming from my father tripping and stumbling in the house each night. The sound of the birds chirping and the smooth breeze rustling through trees softly could help drown the sound of things breaking and parents shouting at each other at midnight.

Visual memories would not help. I had to gather memories of fragrances and sounds in store for when winter came.

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Doctor’s Clinic

1

Life had become a huge act of persistent waiting in the waiting rooms of hospitals and clinics now. Some or the other body part was refusing to participate in keeping the body functional in its entirety and this time it was the heart. The waiting room had a soothing fragrance of some disinfectant and this was the most familiar smell lately. The spotlessly white room with plastic figurines of the blood vessels and the heart was the weekend retreat. I glanced through at the charts that educated people about how to keep a healthy heart every time I visited; murmuring each instruction in my head before I even read it. “At least the memory is intact,” I thought to myself proudly.

I followed all these instructions by now but I guess age didn’t really care about leading a healthy life. After seventy, your body did not adhere to any kind of rules or regulations. It would just randomly one day tell your hips to give you trouble and then it’s your head’s turn the very next day.

The waiting felt nice. There was always some other human in the room as well, unlike back at home, and it was comforting. The silence of the house since the death of Sunita was piercing and haunting and the murmur of people talking on phone calls and complaining about the waiting was a fresh change.

Maybe I liked the place because the disinfectant reminded me of Sunita a lot. It reminded me of the endless fights we got into because of her love for cleaning and my total neglect of that love. Or maybe we fought because of my total neglect of her. But now, when I sit in clean clinics that are totally unlike the hole for a house I live in now, I miss her.

The place on the whole reminded me of her. It promised endless care; the care that I had not cared about because it seemed natural and certain until I lost it. I was never a great husband. I wasn’t even a good one. I was hardly a husband at all actually. I was a visitor who realized the value of the home when there was no host to open the door. And now sitting in a cardiologist’s clinic, I was searching for a familiar home and a functional heart.

I came here to regret. Even if I could not love or appreciate the woman I had, I resolved to miss her right.

2

The relatively quiet room that was especially designed to comfort the ailing didn’t really help to calm my anxiety as I sat there on the edge of the milky white sofa with my legs shaking a little. I constantly looked at the no smoking sign on the corner of a white wall to remind myself that for a while I could not use infamous roll of nicotine in my pocket.

The little plaster of Paris structure of the heart on the reception desk was sort-of creepy. It made me realize that heart wasn’t as beautiful a thing as portrayed in art and poetry. It was an ugly lump of flesh that could dismantle your entire life if it wasn’t taken care of. Quite a drama queen in my opinion. Since Ma’s heart started to create problems making her bed ridden for long durations, heart breaks started to seem miniscule in comparison to heart diseases.

The receptionist sitting in the room constantly taking calls and notes simultaneously made me want to consider becoming a receptionist myself. Studying further wouldn’t pay the bills anymore, I thought. It just gave me more debt. Plus, she looked busy enough to not have time to think about life; I needed that. Attend calls, say the same practiced thing, note down appointments, repeat.

I was never a very patient person and the green wall clock that had ‘HIMALAYA’ printed on it was painfully testing me. Waiting rooms were not a place for me. I got up to walk a little around the room.

I was here to take the doctor’s opinion on Ma’s angiography reports and whenever it came to Ma’s health my anxiety went berserk more than usual. The report paper was as crumpled as my cotton top now because I kept fidgeting with it during this unending waiting period.

Waiting gave me a lot of time to think and I did not like that. A lot of unanswered questions and worries clouded my thoughts as the room I was walking in became a little blurred. Would I have to leave my studies and take up a job now? How would I earn enough to pay for Shweta’s education, the house and take care of Ma alongside?

I knew Ma was not in a good state. Anyone could tell that by just looking at her but the reports would tell the extent of her illness and that scared the shit out of me. I had a very hazy memory of a bearded man who Ma told me was my father. I remember him coming home every evening and taking me in a bear hug till the age of four until one day only a crumpled car came back. Shweta was just a few months old then. I remembered Ma crying a lot for months since then and I guess that’s when her heart started to become weak. But Ma was always there. She was the only one there and now the fear of losing her crippled my mind.

The loud ringing of the receptionist’s phone brought me back to the waiting room and she signalled me to go inside the doctor’s office. I took a deep breath in order to appear prepared for whatever was coming and walked towards the office.

3

As I entered the waiting room, a slender girl of twenty six or twenty seven was moving towards the doctor’s office. I went to receptionist to confirm my appointment and then took a seat on a green chair in the corner of the room while my little boy climbed on my lap.

I checked the money in my pocket for the fiftieth time. It had taken a lot of night shifts at work to gather money for this appointment. Looking at the waiting room made me understand why the consulting cost so much. He was one of the best cardiologists in the city and he made sure that the appearance of his office conveyed that.

The office was shiny. My six year old’s eyes sparkled seeing the little toy area in the waiting room. He jumped off my lap to play a little. A deep sadness gripped my already dysfunctional heart because I knew I would never be able to give him such toys at home.

The receptionist looked aristocratic and intimidating. The entire room looked intimidating and I slouched my shoulders a little like that would make me invisible. My appearance was the most out of place thing in the perfectly synchronized room. The old brown pants and dusty cream shirt were a total mismatch with the sparkling white room with green stationery, accessories and bonsai plants.

I watched my little one play with the toys ecstatically. Had I ever seen him happier? I glanced at the clock in the room. It was about time to go into the doctor’s office so I called out to Ayush to stop playing and come to me.

He clung to a metallic blue electronic car as he came to me obediently.

“You have to keep that back you know right?” I told him and watched his face change colour. His eyes instantly became sad with a hint of tears in them. He loosened his grip on the metal toy reluctantly but didn’t let go completely for a while and looked at me expectantly for the first time in his six years of life.

I felt the money kept in my pocket once again and gave a defeated sigh.

“Let’s get out of here and get you one of those,” I said with a weak smile on my face and Ayush’s face lit up like the streets on Diwali. He threw his arms around me in immense excitement and I guess my heart healed a little as we walked out of the waiting room.

In Search Of Aasha

Aasha gave me a cultured smile as she presented me the sparkling white china cup with aromatic tea in it. But my joke was worth a laugh, I wondered a little annoyed. What happened to the Aasha that burst into a robust laughter at the silliest of jokes? I observed her closely as she resumed her work in the kitchen with practiced expertise. She was dressed as if she were about to go out; a skinny tight blue jeans with a fancy black cotton top that did not seem comfortable at all. She even had a little makeup on. Her demeanour was calm and composed and her face, expressionless. She had also lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw her. I recalled her telling me that she was joining a gym over a phone call.

This was not the Aasha I grew up with. The girl whose entry was announced by elaborate chiming Indian accessories and a pleasant laughter was not here anymore. Even though I was meeting her after almost two years, one does not expect to meet a completely different person altogether. What happened to the colourful salwars and flashy dupattas? What happened to the impatience of her character and multitudes of fleeting expressions that adorned her face twenty-four seven? What happened to my elder sister in all these years? Even though I was wondering about all these questions, I knew the answer to them pretty clearly.

As I watched the defiant school feminist make lunch for me, I was forced to recall all the articles she used to write for an online feminist portal. Some of their titles swam in my mind as I heard the rattle of utensils like a music I didn’t like.

Being a Woman Does Not Mean Compromise’.

It’s a Man’s World But Women Run It

“Importance of Sisterhood”

“Married, Feminist and Housewife”

I know those words would be accusing her of hypocrisy now and burning a hole in her soul.

The thought made me nauseous and I decided to give up on finishing the tea. The silence between me and Aasha was unsettling for me because I wasn’t familiar with such a scenario. We used to have hours dedicated to pointless banter and numerous stories about each other’s life. There was judging and giggling and even fights but never silence.

Some decisions in a person’s life really take a toll on them. There are some decisions that you want to take and some that you feel like you have to take and it’s always the latter that render you speechless, sometimes for your entire life. The decisions that take your life away from your values are the hardest to make and they leave a lasting impact. They have the power to crush your previous sense of identity and then, you are left in the dark, desperately trying to form a new one. More than often, this new shattered identity that you form is a culmination of bits and pieces borrowed from others.

After that one taxing day in July of 2012, Aasha forgot who she was. On that day she was suddenly thrown into a Robert Frost poem and was facing a forked road in the journey of her previously proud and happy life. She had to choose one out of the two and I witnessed her breaking down in front of those long-stretching and seemingly dark roads; her beliefs faltering, her convictions losing strength and her confidence slowly disappearing in the musty monsoon air, making it heavier on our chests.

Kabir had left his phone at home before going on one of his many Europe tours. Kabir was Aasha’s high school sweetheart. She had never known romantic love outside of Kabir and she never even wanted to. He was the perfect guy in her mind. Respectful, ambitious, caring and even a male feminist. At the delicate age of eighteen, Aasha was drooling over baby socks in kids’ clothing stores and imagining her dream house with Kabir.

She always yearned for a happy family life since we never had one. An absentee mother and a very busy father didn’t account for a family as such. So, we found solace and family in each other. During truth and dares, whenever she was asked what her deepest desire was, she always said she wanted a blissful and coherent family life where everyone is there for each other. I found my mother figure in her and she was trying to be the mother figure she never had.

She didn’t want to become a female President or a CEO. She wanted to become a nurturer. I knew it from a very young age. The amount of blossomed sunflowers in our balcony garden were a proof of her motherly instincts. I was a proof of her motherly instincts. She was determined to prove that a housemaker could also be a feminist. She just wanted to build a home and be the strongest and most supportive pillar of it. But now, only the pillar was visible with all its cemented strength and Aasha was nowhere to be found.

When she saw the texts and pictures of Nadia in Kabir’s phone that day, her world and beliefs crumbled like stale bread and I could do nothing but watch it disintegrate. It was just before I was about to leave for Canada.

Kabir was cheating on her. As she investigated more after her initial shock, she found out that he had been cheating on her for solid eight years now. His business trips were trips to the other woman as well and his love was divided in two.
So there she was with the forked road glaring down condescendingly on her like a strict professor with folded arms, waiting for her to give the correct answer. But she didn’t know what the correct answer was.

I expected my sister to choreograph a big confrontation when Kabir returned to pick up his phone but she wordlessly gave it back to him and wished him a happy journey. I also assumed that she would leave everything behind and accompany me to Canada to start a fresh life. She did ponder upon that possibility for a long time before choosing the road she did. But unlike the defiant rebel she previously was, she chose to stay.

Wasn’t she the one who stood by her best friend when she was procuring a divorce on the basis of her husband’s romantic affairs? I remember Aasha stringently counselling Heena and giving her numerous reasons to not stay in a relationship that had no trust or equal emotional investment. So what was different now?

You might wonder why would a girl who never compromised on her ideals and was ridiculously proud of them, not leave in such a circumstance. Wasn’t cheating, in a marriage or any relationship, in the list of ‘not acceptable 101’? Wasn’t staying with the defaulter a form of submission and unhealthy compromise?

I never had the courage to ask the reason for her staying. I never had the courage to bring this topic up again. Being the only one who knew about this limited my scope of verbal deliberation. But in my head I thought of the numerous reasons that might have made Aasha stay.

Maybe it was for her little six year old boy. Maybe she stayed to give Abeer a happy and coherent family.  The Stockholm Syndrome of Motherhood often forced you to make unreasonable sacrifices.

Maybe she stayed because she married too young and didn’t have the financial stability to start a fresh life. How would she support a kid and herself when she was financially dependent on Kabir? She wouldn’t be able to give Abeer the lifestyle he was accustomed to already.

Or maybe it was just fear. Fear of starting over and starting alone. Fear of not having a complete family again. Dread of probably not finding love again. Loneliness can be really scary when you’ve grown up with it. It makes it very hard to leave behind the person who filled in the gap. Probably she even had the fear of society, which was unlikely though. But you can never tell how strong someone’s abstract convictions are until it is time to incorporate them in their intimately private lives.

Whatever the reason might be, she chose the road that led back to Kabir and the enormous empty house that felt emptier since July twenty third. She chose the road of denial; carrying on with her life as it was.

She would never tell Abeer of his father’s liaisons, she once told me. She did not want to taint the superhuman respect Abeer had for his father. Moreover, she did not want to indoctrinate the thought that cheating was acceptable in Abeer’s innocent mind even if she was accepting it.

She never even told Kabir that she knew about Nadia. Everything she was going through was inside her body that had practiced composure to perfection. But I could see her insecurities manifesting in her appearance. She was trying to turn into Nadia now. She had discarded the Indian clothes she adored and her wardrobe was now full of jeans and dresses and tank tops. She had developed a vehement dislike for her own chubbiness which once was “enviable curves” for her. She had given away her loud laughter and garrulous character for proficient sophistication. Probably she had the banal hope of getting Kabir back to herself if she could imitate Nadia. This made me sad. My sister thought that her supposed shortcomings were the reason behind Kabir’s philandering and that shattered me to no extent.

As she came back in hall to sit beside me and ask about my work I heard the message tone of Kabir’s phone as it lighted on the table next to us. We both peered to see Nadia’s name flash on the screen. Aasha’s eyes became blue for a nanosecond before they went back to their trained calmness. She pressed the power button to switch off the lighted phone and turned towards me to resume the meaningless conversation.

My heart sank to my stomach as I searched for my sister while she indulged in small talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sisterhood

I twisted the head of the tap and the water ceased to flow down on the sink. I wiped the water off my hands with a handkerchief. How long had I been zoned out washing my hands?
The face in the mirror looked unsatisfied and tired. Festivities of this kingdom always were a taxing job. They required me to play the part of the timid, conforming, virtuous girl more efficiently than on normal days. It drained the life out of me.

This coronation was especially depressing. It had malice written all over it. Wasn’t King Duncan just murdered? Yet no one, especially Macbeth, had an ounce of grief. This celebration was tainted and to a great extent, insensitive.

As I was preparing myself to get in character before moving out, I heard someone’s clumsy handling of the washroom door knob. After a few minutes of noisy playing with the doorknob, a tall woman in a black robe stumbled inside the washroom.

“All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” She shouted and burst into a fit of manic laughter as the door shut thud behind here.

As she tried to walk towards the sink she toppled and fell on her knees still laughing. She was lean with her hair tied in an aristocratic bun, but a few non-conforming strands of it were all over her face. Her complexion was flushed and her face sad. For a moment I couldn’t recognize who she was because I had never seen Lady Macbeth that vulnerable. She was a marble statue at every occasion. An unapproachable figure with a plastered smile and very few, but only kind, words.

I hurried towards her to help her stand up but she pushed me away to lean on the wall and sit awkwardly on the washroom floor. She was wrapped in a repelling stench of liquor. I carefully placed myself next to her to provide assistance which she obviously denied.

“Is something wrong my Queen?” I asked in a whispered tone but it somehow triggered her. Her sad face had angry eyes bored in it and my question acted as a catalyst to that anger.

In a hushed tone that was full of rage, her words came out from between her gritted teeth, “But everything about this is wrong. HE wears the crown of MY ambition.” And a tiny tear escaped her left eye as she swiftly wiped it off.

“Because I had too many dreams for a girl I was married to an ass-licking, ambition-less man and now look at him! He is the KING! MY GOAL, MY PLAN, MY BRAVERY, and MY CLEANING UP THE MESS; and he gets to sit on the throne with a gold crown on his rather dumb head,” Her voice got louder with every repeated and emphasised ‘my’.

“What are you talking about my Queen?” I ask in a concerned voice even though I knew what she meant. Treachery aside, I knew what she felt at the moment. Wasn’t this my life on a daily basis? Frustration of not getting what I deserve. Frustration of not being who I am meant to be. Frustration of being a woman in a man’s world.

“But you get to be the Queen! You get to sit next to him and wear your own crown.” I give my vague consolation that wasn’t even sufficient in my head.

She winced and laughed sarcastically. “Oh no, I get to be Lady Macbeth. Do you know my real name? Does anybody know my real name? NO, because I am Lady Macbeth. Lady to King Macbeth. That is all I am and that is all I’ll ever be. But do you know what I am should be? I should be Ruler of the Land Gruoch. I deserve to hear ‘All Hail the ruler, Gruoch!’ I am meant to be the power on that throne because I’VE done the good, the bad, and the ugly for it. But…”

As her voice trailed off she stared into the void for a few seconds and abruptly stood up to settle her garment and hair in the mirror. Still a little tipsy, she moved towards the door rather gauchely and unacknowledged my presence altogether. She sent a clear signal of ‘this talk never happened,’ to me and I was more than pleased to oblige.

“I know what you are going through my Queen. Trust me, I know,” I said in a reassuring voice. She stopped for a minute at the door with her back towards me and took a deep breath to fake composure, before finally joining the festivities again.

We all were playing our parts.

Life as a Literary Art and Creative Writing Student #1 (What do you want to explore through your writing?)

It is rather funny and astounding that we are generally enthused and quick to answer fact based questions about this humongous outside world but falter and stutter when we are asked the simplest of questions about ourselves. You know what I am talking about right?
When a new professor in a new class goes on a ‘tell me a little about yourself’ drill and you vehemently hope that he’d start with the other row so that you can paraphrase their answers to form your own or at least borrow some ideas.

Have you wondered what makes us do that?
Well at least I have.

A similar thing happened when our creative writing professor asked us our first question that was simple yet eminent – ‘What does writing mean to you?
An awkward silence spread throughout the room followed by exchange of uncertain glances. One person waiting for the other to answer in confusion. I’m sure everyone had an answer to it but certain doubts and anxieties made them refrain from voicing their answer. Ever wondered what doubts people collectively share that render them speechless when asked a personal question in a particular setting?
Many a times these doubts stem from our inability to articulate what we actually feel or think. Language seems like an insufficient medium of expression making us decide to stick to silence instead. No one has the gift of perfect articulation of internal thoughts anyway.

Nevertheless, sticking to my resolution of speaking up more in class, I blurt out ‘hobby’ as my answer and immediately realize how inadequate that word was to explain what writing meant to me. I wouldn’t be sitting in a creative writing class if it was just a hobby. I was here to pull it out of the shallow kid’s pool of hobby and make it swim in the deeper adult area (or at least height above four feet area).

Later, at home, I sat down chewing the end of my pen and struggling to answer the second unsettling question – ‘What do you want to explore through your writing?’

A lot of potential answers knock on my door but none of them is happily welcomed inside in isolation. I begin to wonder what can be the potential meeting point of all those ideas, ideologies and social issues that I want to write about?
After a lot of deliberation while taking showers and cooking meals I realized that the point of confluence was my own mind or human mind in general. So, I got ready to write my slightly vague idea within five hundred words.

Human psyche or mind is in a constant state of confusion and conflict; a duel ground where two ideas fight with each other to gain prominence. Every single decision we take is preceded by this confusion and since life is nothing but a prolonged act of perpetual decision making; confusion becomes very central to one’s being. I want to explore this confusion and the resolution of it that occurs in a person’s mind before they take any big or small decision; the confusion that resides on the line of control of internal and external worlds.
I want to weave stories inside a characters mind and explore the ideologies, social influences and histories that create these conflicts and shape an individual’s line of thought and hence, way of life.

This exploration of the human psyche will also allow me to unravel the features of such ideologies and social constructs and showcase the dangers of their partial understanding or prevalent misinterpretations.

 

Day of an Empath

A rather silent day, calm.
Particularly uneventful.
People moving around close to each other,
But essentially in their own separate worlds.
And I, in mine.
But unfortunately (or not?)
My world absorbs the energies of others’.
Their vibe seeps into my skin and makes a home in my body.
X’s life is sad today, she probably cried in the shower. (I want to help but she has a smile here)
Y is just tired.
It isn’t visible but he hasn’t slept for a while now.
(I want to help but he won’t let me)
Z is numb; his energy stagnating but
Shattering.(I want to help but he doesn’t open up)

And I.
I just sit there.
Filling up to the brim.
Like a wine glass on a Saturday night.
Helplessly stationary, but bustling with waves inside.
By midnight.
I get full and a little more.
Enough for me to spill-over
And make myself a mess.

Saturated to that extent
How doesn’t one explode?
How does one explain the whys and stick to the don’ts?
How do I say that I’m sad
But nothing really happened to me?
How do I make sense to you,
When you don’t even believe in energies?
How do I not spill-over every night?
How do I make you stay?
When I’m clueless how to make you understand,
The intensity of an empath’s day ~ Devika Sinha

How much do you even cry?

Me?

Oh very much actually!

I’m this gooey, leaking heap of emotions.

Not subtle ones, oh hell NO!

Each feeling hits me like a fucking natural disaster.

Each hurt raging up like a sixty feet tsunami wave.

So, the cracks in my eyes are bound to leak that way.

 

So what?

Everyone has disasters within.

And I choose mine quite well.

I’m not very scared of drowning,

But famines terrify me to death.

I’d prefer torrential rain on my cheek,

Than a barren landscape in my chest.

I’d like the breathing to cease

Skin that once was chocolate
Is raisins lately.
I sit and count the wrinkles around the sockets
That had eyes shimmering with purpose
Once.
Now
There are hollow grey mouths of guns
Shooting out vacant stares towards me
That pierce the soul
For hours;
Sometimes days.

I wonder
How long does a day feel
When the breaths you take are fabricated through machinery?
How lengthy is an hour
That battles with air every second?
The belly
I witness inflating,
With pumped breaths,
Rattles every organ there,
Also,
Every organ here;
Within me.

Steak,
I see in a magazine
And then gaze
At the wretched food pipe:
One of the plenty
Attached to the limbs.
“Food or Sex?”
“Food!” I’d hear with laughs.
Food or Breaths?
Who knew,
Would be the options.

Treatment,
They call it:
Prolonging of pain
I deduce.
No words for months,
No songs,
No fights;
Not even humming.
Just
Fake breathing and beeps
Breathing
Beep
Breathing
Beep.

I breathe twice instinctively
Amidst every beep,
First for her,
Then for me.
Silly assistance;
Futile, I know.
But every desperate gasp for air,
Is her
Disguised agony.

I’d like, O lord, to hear now
Just the shattering
Beep
Beep
Beep.
I pray and plead to you O Lord,
I’d like the breathing
To finally cease.
Won’t you hear
These desperate calls
And
A mother’s plea?
All I want for her is now
The drowning to be
Complete.

The Other Woman

I love her and she loves me but I make love to a sin that has bewitched me.

Thrice or four times I have seen her cry. Her tears fall ceaselessly upon my shoulder as she swears to leave me this time, but cannot. I make a million promises going down on my knees, hugging her by the waist. Promises to never go back; promises to love her forever; promises I hope I can keep.
But here I am, standing at the gates of the dealer. In front of the pink house, burning with red passion I lose track of promises and I break all vows.

How hard is it to get rid of an addiction when the drug is the dealer and the dealer
is the drug? How hard is it to ignore the velvet voice over the phone asking you to come up?
I love her but I love her too. She loves me, but she loves me too. One is home and the other, an adventure. One is stability and the other, I don’t know. And I gravitate back to her, intoxicated, to get the answer to that ‘I don’t know.’

As she answers the door in her flimsy top, I undress my mistake mentally. Yes that’s what I call her; a mistake. A name she has grown to like with every lie I tell over the phone while I am tangled in the bed sheets with her.
Her skin: a magnet to my iron. I hold it tight enough to leave the impressions of blood on it. Her cologne: cocaine to my senses. I sniff till my vision becomes a haze.
I don’t have the patience to let her finish her sentences. With every word she says, I imagine her lips moving on mine.
I inspect her body before loving it and punish her for any scratch that is not mine. Not mine, but someone else’s, she dare not be. I make every desperate attempt to fence my property. I paint blue-red gashes wherever my teeth get access of her flesh and she climaxes under me with each hard bite.
I never let her dress even after having her a several times. I hate those fabrics that touch her constantly. Instead, I lazily trace all my embossed grazes that cover the round of her breast, the bent of her thigh, the curve of her shoulder and savour each cringe the wounds instigate in her. I let the pain of her revenge bites wash over me. She tends them with soft red kisses and cries.For a long time I admire all my branding proudly, the only form of art I know.
I kiss her from her neck to toe chanting “Mine! Mine! Mine!” with every breath, while she squirms and moans all night. I tickle her with soft touches and she laughs breathlessly in my mouth. That laughter, the one that drives me insane even when it bursts out in a public place, is the one that keeps me up in the nights she is away.

And in the nights when I live inside her, a small voice always pricks at the back of my mind, “two more days and she would go.” But never can I make her stay for me for more than two weeks, maximum four. Still in those days I ignore a hundred calls, from the woman waiting for me at home.
Accusations, loyalty and morals, all get side-lined while I count the moles on her neck and spine and my phone vibrates on the side table the entire night.

On our last night every time, I become the beast I fear. I fantasize peeling her skin to live inside it. I almost devour her limbs in an attempt to keep her inside me. I hurt her I know, but she never complains. She smiles through all of that physical pain. I try to quench my thirst before she leaves, but when I watch her climbing the train compartment, I find my mouth dry again.
I remember the times she used to cry at my feet. “Leave her,” she used to say “If you really love me.” I never could, I was too afraid. Weak, she said, to put a claim.

Now, she laughs when I propose to elope, like I have cracked the best of jokes.
“I am the other woman and I like that more. I like being the sin instead of your home. I love your racing heartbeat and your hunger for more. It’s fun to be the one you cheat with but not the one you cheat on. I love you too much to see your passion fade off.”