The Shortest Night
The room was a mess. The curtains were askew along the windows, the cushions were lying helter skelter. The table was full of empty food bowls, wrappers and cans. Towels and clothings were spread throughout. The television was on, but I had set it on mute. On the couch she slept, peaceful and calm. She was here for a party and had crashed the night.
I sat across her on my chair, sipping on my cup of tea and watching her chest inflate and deflate repeatedly. Sleeping in an almost fetal position, she looked like a little girl. The wind from the fan swung the hair on her face. She clutched the blanket which I had draped on her when she fell abruptly asleep dearly. Her face carried a mild smile, like she was dreaming about beautiful things – things she loved. It was surreal, how that one body could be a splendid amalgam of craziness, weirdness, fun, maturity, responsibiity, humour and more. That one 8×4 feet couch held a little stardust, some dark sprinklings, some mild rays and a strong fire.
I did not know what she dreamt of. Maybe she dreamt of her love, or loves; plural as they must be. Or perhaps some happy memories. Even an implausible possibility? Maybe she saw a pleasant future.
Or maybe, she dreamt of her happiness at the implausible possibility of me as her love in her pleasant future.
No, that’s just me hypothesising the plausibility of my happniess on the possibility of me being her love in her pleasant future.
I love her. There’s no qualms about it. And she doesn’t know it. At least, I think she doesn’t. That’s because neither have I let the floodgates open nor has she sought to swim in the waters I hold. That doesn’t mean I haven’t let a few drops out. They were more like the water that tops off a fully filled glass when moved, as compared to me letting it flow out.
She moves suddenly in her sleep, and tosses around into a new position. I watch her motionless with the cup of tea just near my lips; afraid to move or make any noise which may wake her up.
‘What are you waiting for?‘ I asked myself as I finally get up and start preparing breakfast. There will never be a better opportunity than today, it seemed. Both of us, alone, over breakfast as the mild morning sun drenched my kitchen. Yet I knew I won’t be talking to her about me.
Probably I was scared. It’s natural to be. I wasn’t scared of her being already in love with somebody. I wasn’t scared of rejection. In fact, if she was happy, I could live with that and without her. I was scared of the fact that my two minutes of heartfelt talk may ruin what we have, whatever we have. That she may distance herself after that, or even worse, just cut loose. I could live with the regret of keeping my love in rather than live with the curse of the aftermath of my expression.
I wish love was as simple as it was when we were young – penned on the backs of our notebooks. Shaped via bollywood and other romantic storylines, I never realised the terrors of love before and the peace of it after heartbreak. If I still had a notebook I kept with me everywhere, I’d have to read it backwards; thanks to her.
Sleep had abandoned me all night, but not for the usual reasons. The root was the same, yet my heart couldn’t formulate that she was there, in actuality, in my apartment; for the night. I told her to wait while I prepared a room for her, but by the time I was back she was dozing on the couch.
The horrible thing about love is that it makes you question your ethics, puncture your morals and duel your conscience. It would be awful to have her wake up seeing me watching her – but even though my brain refused, my eyes revolted.
It was the shortest night of my life.
Maybe my hitherto unsaid and unseen selfish motive was to have her approach me with her undying love for me. And I, with glee and jubilation beyond bounds would accept it and we’d be happy forever after. Now that I think about it, that would be great, even if it was even more implausible and unhealthy to ponder upon and expect.
As I checked the fridge for juice and milk I thought about the possibility of me asking her out in a couple of hours and she actually saying yes. Just the thought made me freeze at the kitchen door, juice carton in hand.
The sheer gloriousness of it hit me hard. Waking up to her beside me every morning, smelling her hair when she hugs me tight. Walking in the park with her grasping my arm and putting her head on my shoulders. Sitting on the park bench with my head in her lap, and she just casually stroking my hair as the mild breeze makes her long locks tickle my cheeks. Quibbling over mugs and cutlery, tops and shirts, dresses and blazers. Having an infinitely long indecision over what to eat for lunch, and ordering pizzas anyway. Fighting over that last slice of pizza, eventually eating it together. Devouring the same noodle until our lips meet. Sipping tea from each other’s cups, making sure I sip from the same spot she did. Having crazy dates to the local fair, with she taking me to rides which scare the heavens out of me. Clicking her pictures by the small lake at the restaurant. Coming back home wild, intoxicated with each other. Feeling every inch of her body. Tracing my name on her bare back until she recognises it. Planning a surprise for her when she catches me red handed and asks me, ‘What are you doing?‘ And I hastily and sheepishly reply, ‘Nothing!‘
I stood there, frozen, with a stupid smile on my face. The refrigerator was almost yelling loudly for me to shut the door, to no avail. It was then when her astonished voice brought me back to my senses,
‘Uh, what are you doing?‘ she asked while rubbing her eyes.
I smiled sheepishly, rub my hand on the back of my head and said,