Girl looking out of window

Cry of the Lonely Night

It’s the late nights that force me to ask questions. What are you gonna do about your career? Why aren’t you on good terms with your parents? Why are you still single? Why aren’t you happy, when everybody else is? Why when there are a billion men in your country, do you still think about that one?

I hate such nights. Especially the quiet ones. It’s that time when you can’t drink coffee for you don’t want to stay up but you think you are too old for drinking plain milk. On those nights, my brain gets its engine running and asks one simple question.

Why when there are a billion men in your country, do you still think about that one?

What was so special about him anyway? He looked all right. Black eyes, black hair, average height. No cute, one-sided dimple but a few pimples. Pick any face in the crowd, it was him.

Did I date any other guy after him? Yes. Many. Do I remember them all? Not really. Do I remember the smell of his shirt, the shape of wrinkles around his eyes, the food that he’s allergic to, or the way he likes his coffee? Absolutely.

I can ask myself thousand times over. Did I even love him? But I have no answer.

We met. Chatted over coffee breaks. Laughed over dinners. Danced together on Friday nights. Binged watched series over weekends. We did everything that everyone does in a new relationship.

Was I high on dopamine then? No. Was I heartbroken when I left him? No. So, did I love him? No. Or maybe yes. What is love anyway? But, do I want him here tonight?

This is it. This is the moment I hate the most. On those lonely nights, this is the question I hate asking myself. Rather, I hate the answer.

Yes, I do want him here tonight.

Being with him was the closest I had ever gotten to be comfortable in life. We liked the same movies, food, city, drinks, and sports, among many other trivial things. We could share a room without uttering a word. He could lick his dish after eating Maggi and it never grossed me out. He loved doing laundry. I loved cooking food. He loved grocery shopping. I loved gardening. We had a place on the 5th floor from where we could watch sunsets while sipping coffee. He didn’t much care about sunsets but he watched them for my sake. I liked reading and he watched TedTalks before going to bed. More often than not, I would sleep on the sofa with a book in my hand and spectacles on my head. He would grab the book, use my spectacles as a bookmark, kiss me on the forehead, and carry me to the bed. And I would sleep soundly in his arms.

Being with him felt like a routine. A routine that you neither loved nor hated. A routine that has no significance. Just a stale routine. We could have grown old like this and we wouldn’t even notice or complain. But we did. I did.

It was one of those rainy nights. When we couldn’t sleep. There was nothing good on TV. He brewed a coffee, sat beside me on the floor, grabbed my hand, and kissed it with woeful eyes. And I knew. Finally, we shattered the bubble that we were living in.

Two weeks later. We both found apartments for ourselves; neither of us could live in the same house anymore.

He is still here, in this city.

Sometimes I feel that the phone would ring and I would hear his voice. Sometimes I open my door, feeling sure that he is there. And he will walk in, put the grocery in the fridge, turn on the TV and complain about how the government ruined our lives.

Maybe one day he will ring the doorbell. How I hope for it! How I loathe myself for wishing it! How I regret ruining the very thing people search and crave for! How I resent myself for taking him for granted!

He was not just someone but the one in the crowd.

On the nights like this, I realize this all over again. I stare at the empty wall that lacks a photo of us. I relive some random memories, cry my eyes out, and sleep on the floor.

Such nights are not easy to get over. The next morning, I have to use all my strength to collect myself, pick up the pieces of my heart, and try to get on with my life.

But, thankfully, today is Monday. I’ll be too swamped with work to think about anything else. I only need to get myself out of the door, onto the streets, and into the rush of traffic. This city and people will help me get over last night, maybe it will help me get over him eventually.

I open my door to get the newspaper. He is there with a plastic bag of fruits in one hand and a photo frame of us in the other. The wall won’t be empty anymore. And we smile.

Justice must be served

Sanjay, a guy in his early twenties detested girls of his age. Their constant giggling irritated him and a company of a pretty girl hardly gave him joy. Getting drunk on Friday nights with his buddies felt like a juvenile routine and playing games with ladies just to get laid seemed an inhuman task. He was in his own opinion too old for his age. So, when he was introduced to Sunaina during the monthly meeting of his apartment, Vrindavan Complex, he found solace.

Sunaina was in her early thirties and recently divorced. Her parents never did support her marriage so when she filed for divorce, they disowned her completely and said the entire matter served her right. She has graduated almost a decade ago so joining corporate life felt intimidating. Instead, she decided to start a tiffin service. Sanjay was her first client and his tiffin soon became a highlight of the lunch break among his colleagues. Within two months, Sunaina was cooking lunch for 15 more people who worked in Sanjay’s company. However, even though her mornings were extremely busy, her afternoons and evenings were quite lonesome. When she would look outside from her kitchen window, she would see her neighbors being busy in their lives, feeding their kids, looking after their partner. She often thought no other soul in the big city of Mumbai was as lonely as hers.

One Friday evening, Sanjay tapped on her door and asked if she could share his birthday cake with him.

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via match.com

26 April, 2020: 11:03pm

I hate social media. Instagram is nothing but rats following the piper. YouTube is a black hole of unwanted recommendations, and Twitter is an outburst of rage and vulgar display of morons’ opinions. Sadly, social media is the main tool to find a man and I need a man in my life; not because I’m bored of ever-extending lockdown but I feel someone is out there, missing me as I’m missing him. So here I am, signing in on a dating site and tossing breadcrumbs for him so he can find me while I have some hope for us.


12 May 2020: 1:26 am via match.com

Do you hate when people click pictures not because they want to savor the moment but because they can finally put something on their WhatsApp stories? My entire neighborhood is posting and drinking Dalgona coffee, which as a matter of fact, looks and tastes like shit. To protest, I decided to drink black tea with honey in it. That my friend is the real deal.

There is this event organized by our PM to bang utensils and whatnot to support our medical team. I’m going to use wind charm and its music will travel across the country, border, mountains, and through time itself and find you. Hear for it, it’s on its way.


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Mirror

Realm of mirrors

I am a proud member of the little community where I live. There are so many families that care about each other. Mothers asking for new recipes, fathers talking about government policies and politics behind it, and elders protecting their neighborhood with their wisdom. Being an Indian, I’m blessed with year-round festivals that include delicious food, multiple occasions to dress nicely, and gatherings of neighbors at someone’s house. Indians know how to celebrate their lives and live in a harmony. I’ve been proud of such interconnected lives. Until I found out how cruel the harmony actually is.

The more unbiasedly I think about me, my parents, my siblings, rather everyone, I recognize a subtle pattern that is so well hidden. Mothers are not asking for new recipes, but trying to mimic each other in a socially acceptable way. Father figuring out the most suitable political stand to fit in together and fight against someone with different opinions. When I look around me, I see no mother, father, or a friendly, somewhat nosy neighbor, I see mirrors reflecting each other until it is impossible to figure the true self.

The world is lost in a game. This game has been played for decades. Everyone has figured out the rules and they are quite simple. What would people say? This is the only question you have to ask yourself and make every decision accordingly.

Does the boy you love share the same caste as yours? If yes, you have an eye for selecting a suitable life partner! If not, how dare you to open your heart and show such vulgarity! Does the career of your choice match with your education? If yes, you are a quite example for the youngsters in the society. If no, how dare you follow your heart and waste your parent’s money! See, even you have seen the glimpse of this game and failed to think twice about it.  

You see, the game is quite simple yet horribly twisted. It demands nothing but your will. The saddening fact is that after playing it for years, you get used to it and even forget about the life when you could make your own decisions. By the time you are a parent, you slowly try to impose these rules on your children and snatch the hope of something brilliant that could come out of their innocent imagination.

It took me 26 years to accept that I’m a part of this game and I can stop playing whenever I want. I can hit quit and my soul could liberate once and for all. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. It took me a while to understand how sinister the game really is. You are not only mimicking each other but selling your soul in exchange for acceptance in each other eyes.

When I look at the elders, I no longer see wisdom, I see a lack of soul, a living rule book of the game, a person without a persona. When they look at me, they see a threat in my eyes. I am a stone that can shatter the realm of mirrors. I am a living reminder of something they had a long time ago, something that they loved dearly and failed to protect. I’m no longer a sister, daughter, or grandchild.

I’m not a mirror and that is the worst thing to be.

No one is quite enough

It is widely accepted that we all have a soulmate and we should never stop searching for the quest of soulmate. The absolute treasure hid in plain sight.

However, most of the believers leave the quest in their mid-20s and settle for someone who can bear their idiosyncrasies. They later call their faith in the quest a child’s fantasy or poetic phase of their life that lasted a little too long. They lie to themselves and lead a half-fulfilled life.

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Balcony

Liberty to lie

When we look back, we realize that the beginning of an extraordinary friendship is often ordinary. I met Kavya on Christmas eve through some common friends who fancied binge drinking and punk rock music. Someone had introduced me to her as a foul-mouthed asshole so she kept her distance. We had nothing in common except we both hated FRIENDS and agreed that Seinfeld was much better.

When anyone asks whether I knew she was the one when I first met her, the truth is absolutely effing no. But after New Year’s night, I knew I wouldn’t find anyone like her even if I scoured the earth. I had way too much tequila. It had made the lights intense, faces blurry, speech slurry, and my eyes teary. All emotions that I easily bottle up were rushing out of my eyes. My façade of a strong, emotionless stud was beginning to shatter in front of everyone and before anyone could notice the real me, I made my way into the balcony. I grabbed a can of beer on my way out so I can empty my heavy heart somewhat manly. And that’s when she decided to join me.

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Affinity

The summer would go as it came
Trees would forsake their leaves
And you’ll leave as you promised
For three weeks, I’ve relished this affinity
Though I regret spending twenty-five years
without the moments of intimacy
Perhaps it was a long test,
Or payment to God for granting us these three weeks.
And now as you rest in my arms
I feel every desire and want oozing out of me
I know tranquility
These three weeks seems enough
I can bear to live thinking that you exist somewhere across the ocean
We’ll talk to the moon; he’ll be our messenger
I’ll sleep keeping the door ajar
If you ever decide to stop by,
We’ll spend another night in heaven.

Sunset

Even after all these years

I close my eyes and see yours
Even in my brightest and darkest moments
Even after all these years
I feel your presence
As real as I feel the ground beneath my feet.
I watch sunsets after sunsets
Hoping you might come out of nowhere
You’ll put your hands around me
Plant a kiss on back of my neck
Put a ring on my finger and I’ll say yes softly
But I turn around and see my despair staring at me instead
I go back to my empty room
Watch your favorite movies
Wearing the blue shirt that you left behind
Sleep on your side of the bed
There is nothing left here anymore
That echoes my habits and doesn’t depict your soul
I was the water and you were the ink
And now we will be perpetually together
Even after your betrayal
Perhaps I feel your presence
More so in your absence.

Stuck together [Part II]

The moment I sit down, things start to make sense. I shouldn’t have blamed him. It’s not his fault that this elevator is billion years old without a day’s maintenance. He is kind of nice actually. That Harry Potter styled glasses suit him. Have I seen him before?

“I have seen you before. I don’t want to come out as a stalker or anything but you work in Crossword Technologies, right? We often share the elevator. You always have headphones in your ears or a book in your hand. You’re the only reader I have ever seen around here.”

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Stuck together [Part I]

I mail the final code to my manager and close more than 12 tabs on my browser. This is what I call happiness- the shutdown music of the computer. I pack my back and before my manager could spot me and toss one more code to write, I punch out and head toward the parking lot. Fridays are good if your manager somehow forgets your existence. I’m not much of a party maniac but that doesn’t mean I don’t crave weekends just as much as others.

I enter the elevator, there are 5 travelers inside. Yes, if you are going down from the 32nd floor, you are entitled to call yourself a traveler. In fact, you should pack a travel kit or picnic basket. Why the hell not? You can make a trip out of it. I enter the elevator and press the button whose only L is visible now. The silver little G of Lower Ground has long been a part of history and everyone has made peace with it.

How much wine do I have left in the fridge? I better buy some for the night. I can cook pasta, pick a movie on Netflix, and eat the perfect dinner.

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