Tuesday, 29 March 2011


There was a knock; at first it was faint, barely distinguishable but later it grew louder and more authoritative. He ignored it, not because he was too tired or too sleepy to get up and confront the person knocking with all its might. He knew the person; he liked her and everything about her. But, he was very skeptical about allowing her in. Last time he had allowed a similar one in and there was hell to pay. His house was in disarray for considerable time after she had left. He knew that more than her, he had only himself to blame for having opened the door. As long as he was inside he had relative comfort, relative security, and exclusivity. The moment he opened the door, she would slowly conquer his space. He had no fear of his loneliness. He was quite comfortable with himself; he had never hated the person he saw in the mirror everyday.

She knew she had a great chance of succeeding if she'd keep knocking. If at all life had taught her anything, it was the realisation that knocking always helps. She had, hence, emerged a great knocker. Her favourite quote was, "If God closes a door, he opens a window". She had the force of great conviction behind her. She had simply walked in many an open window. God, she maintained, had been kind to her.

He knew she could not walk through his windows; he was on a higher floor, and he never opened the windows.

The incessant tapping at the door became too loud to be ignored. He knew that his heart beat had already started responding to it; hence, for every thuck thuck, there was an equivalent dhak dhak. Finally, he realised that it was futile to keep pretending she could not enter. She was already there.

Initially, there was no problem about the closeness of the space. This was the exploration phase. Indeed, even though he had a two room flat, she was quite content in being with him in a single room. It was rather cosy and there was no question of either of them feeling claustrophobic. When she sang, it echoed from all the walls and he soared; no one had ever sung exclusively for him. He was convinced she had the most beautiful eyes in the world. Hence, whenever he wanted to fly, he only had to look into the ocean of those deep eyes.

However, after she came in, the world - their world - changed. Initially, both were content about living with each other in the present, enjoying each other's company and everything connected with each other. Of course they had squabbles but these could at worst be called mere tiffs. But gradually, she started living more in future. Therefore, a time came when both of them were geographically in the same location but were in different times.

It was a constant tussel between them. She wanted the future - her future - to be discussed, to be secure. He wanted to love, to be loved, to cherish the present. She went along with him at times and more often than not enjoyed what the present held for her: he had an innate wit that she liked, compassion, and other finer feelings and a strange appeal. But no sooner that she'd finish enjoying the present she'd go back to the future.

He never wanted Love to be conditional. If he had known that she had other plans he wouldn't have ever opened the door...or the windows.

Initially, she tried to go out of their space only mentally...not really on a fantasy ride but on an escape to the world that she craved. She debated with herself that an Indian woman, in a male dominated society, does have to worry about her future.

Later, she actually started going out....

She was attractive and there were any number of men who were fascinated by her charm. She reasoned that if it was all about living in the present with no commitment, then present certainly can be made more colourful, more acceptable, more exciting. Indeed, she often confronted him with, "If you have ideas, I have ideas of my own."

This ruffled him badly. Who said anything about commitment? Love is a supremely selfish feeling, he argued. One cannot be loving everyone. One has to love one...and hence, there is commitment.

Later, when she used to return to the room - their world - in the night, he could sense her deception. She continued to make light of it and often said that because of him she couldn't be expected to cut ties with everyone. She asserted her independence. Why is it, she demanded, that in Indian society, men could do anything but women were to toe a rigid line? Why is it that in a male-dominated Indian society women are to be castigated for even talking to men?

He kept quiet. He knew the truth.

He reckoned that when she had invaded his privacy by knocking at his door he had welcomed it so that they could make a world of their own. But, now, there was hardly any space or even time for themselves. For all practical purposes they lived in different worlds.

One day, she woke up as usual and turned towards his side of the bed. She used to love getting up just a few moments before him and look at his handsome face when he was totally defenceless. She couldn't find him in the bed. Perhaps he had gone to the toilet, she thought. But minutes later she didn't hear the familiar sound of the flush or the door. She got up and checked; he wasn't there. She went to the other room and he wasn't there too...or in the kitchen.

The door was still bolted from inside. This meant he was there in the house somewhere. She searched and searched but couldn't find him.

She called out his name frantically. There was no response.

She threw open the window and looked out. No, he couldn't have. It was too high to jump and there was nowhere to hide...anywhere.

And yet...he was gone...just at the time when she felt she had him; when she felt he'd never leave.

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