You looked different that evening. Maybe it was your hair, pretty dress probably. Something different, that had everyone’s attention. You weren’t alone this time, you brought a friend along. Maybe I was so used to seeing you alone. You waded through the crowd for the customary hellos and hugged us all. “Meet my friend”, you said. He was a chirpy athletic guy. You both looked good together. I wonder if he ever fell for you.

You took a table across the room. You were having a lively night with him. I was always so used to seeing the quiet lost you, I must say I was surprised. The more alcohol you consumed more beautiful it made you seem. Your laugh was contagious and I caught myself staring at you. Probably you did too because it was always apparent the hots you had for me.  Maybe hots is a wrong word. You were fascinated with me, I wondered why.

And just like that, I knew I had to ask you to come home with me tonight. I don’t know why I had to. I didn’t know the chemistry you shared with your friend. But at that moment I didn’t care. I came to you while you were alone and whispered in your ears, “J, come home with me, will you?”  You replied, “You know I would love to, but you are like a whiskey, you will fade away with the sunrise and I will have to nurse the hangover. I am not sure if I should unless this is more than a night charade.” You always ended the sentence with your smile. Damn you, poetess, always good with your words.

He returned and you both decided to leave. You said your customary goodbyes. You always hugged Sam tighter, maybe he made you feel comfortable. You hugged me with unease as if you never wanted to say goodbye, and you whispered nothing for a change. As you stepped out, I knew I had to take you now or I’d never been able to again. I ran out and held your hand. Your friend was puzzled and so were you. “Come home, this time it will be different”, I said.  You merely smiled at your friend before you left with me.

You smiled all the way to the cab and said nothing in spite of my pestering. You were buzzing away happy with all the vodka you had I guess. We walked into my house and you broke the silence with “Hey do you have any wine on you?” I laughed because I did have it. You were a well-mannered girl, but that night you drank out of the bottle. I watched you on a quest to figure out why tonight was different. Why were you different.

I carried you to the bed. Yes, it was the same bed and the same blanket and the fairy lights and for a change, you said, “I will play you a song.” You picked ‘Jaane Do’ from space out. It really synched with the night. We huddled closer on the bed as usual. “Have you been writing?”, I ask. “Yes sir, that’s the only thing  I have right now”, you said as you read our your poem. It was strange, you always shied away. You recited “You are my setting sun, the orange, and red hues and I am the opposite side of the sky. You are too loud for me, I am too subtle, but that’s what makes us beautiful isn’t it?”, you stopped.

You had written excellently as compared to what you just recited, but your voice made this sound like a song. That night you fit the scene so perfectly as if this was always meant to be. I told you I was sorry that I never followed up and you kissed me. Then, you broke to kiss to say, “Not tonight, don’t say anything, don’t make promises you won’t keep, don’t get me heated up when you are cold, don’t make me fall in love when you won’t. Don’t make me feel, my stranger of the night. I can’t take this any longer, I spill you out in words and you still occupy the space. You make promises of staying when you are leaving.” You resumed your lips on mine, as a tear rolled down your lips to mine.

That moment I knew, I had no words to soothe, to convince you. That moment, I felt like a sore loser for almost letting you go. We always kissed everytime we met. But tonight was different. As I looked at your face, I knew tomorrow would be different and unfortunately you didn’t share my feeling. I guess when you have been repeatedly lied to, you just don’t share feelings until you see it happen.

That night, as you slept I canceled everything I had scheduled for two days. I was going to do justice to everything I had wronged. You passed out next to me, as I held you close to my chest. How are you so warm, I wondered. And it hit me that I wanted you for the rest of my life. Yes just like that. You were the same, the only thing different about the night was that I saw you for what you were. Your face was reflecting fairy lights. I was holding magic in my arms all this while looking at you as a mere naive girl I met at the bar. You were a beautiful woman who didn’t know the power of her words.

You were just one among them until someone looked closely at you. Then it all came back in focus, your eyes like the stars, your tiny nose. Your body was like the cosmic beauty of the night. Your scars were galaxies of places you have been to, people who have loved. And even after numerous battles, you still had love in your heart and it was incredible. You stored secrets of the world under that normal facade. You were not them, you were different and you knew it.

I drifted off to sleep eventually, lost in you. As I woke up, you weren’t beside me, you were gone without a sound. I looked for you, I called you up and I left texts for you. But you were gone, without a trace. Off the radar, I painfully heard you left the city that morning to the city of Ganges. And I was taken aback, you never mentioned that throughout the night. I held myself responsible as I waited for you to give me a hint. I knew then, the hangover you had to deal with, after every night that you met me.

Finally, five days later I couldn’t hold myself anymore. I was going to find you and I packed my bags to find you. I was going to trace you and tell you, “You were the one”. I reached Varanasi in the evening, incandescent street lights blended well with the sunset. I so strongly felt your presence, that you were around, I looked for you and I drew a blank. When I was about to return to my room, I spotted you in the crowd, you were wearing a white salwar kameez with a dupatta, a bindi on your forehead and vermilion that made you look like a goddess.

You stopped in your tracks for a moment as you saw me and then you ran straight into my arms. “What a surprise!”, you said in your squeaky voice. You smelled of flowers that you adorned on that tiny head of yours. “I missed you”, I replied and you refused to accept my word although your face was glad to see me find you. “Marry me”, I said as I got down on my knees, with my back to the setting sun across the river as Gods watched. “Yes”, you said as you held me up and you wept. You wept like a child that found his mother back. You laughed and you wept. “Forever?”, you asked and I said, “At least, until both of us are breathing.”

“And today we are here” he finally said

“Okay, but what are you doing in my house, how did we meet again?” She asked him again, like every other night.

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