Moving

“Why do you take forever to choose curtains?” she heard him muttering under his breath, as she carefully tiptoed around the carelessly thrown curtains all over the floor. Giggling with excitement, yet quite determined about what she wanted, she ignored him with a smile, pouring over everything she liked, in absolute detail, unable to make up her mind. It was only an hour later that they both emerged from the shop, she triumphant, he looking absolutely bedraggled and bored. It was their first home together and she knew how she wanted it to look. Constrained by budgets, yet unbound by love, she would make sure they woke up in a sun-dappled bedroom every morning, the little glitzy polkis shimmering in the sunlight, against the white mulmul curtains that hung carelessly over her window.

The cartons seemed never-ending. They were stacked in all sizes. Some were labelled, some just had their names scrawled with a fading black marker. He was huffing and panting, lugging them across the rooms, trying to figure out at the earliest, what went where. Else it would be double the work he knew. She wasn’t one to let things lie around lightly and wait till the next weekend to unpack. The boxes seem to have multiplied in number she thought, looking down at them. Ten years. She was putting ten years into neat little boxes, labelling them room by room, naming them to be only her own. What would she do with his stuff though? Keep them in a separate box or pile them in with hers? Putting them together would be easier. But maybe it was best otherwise. They were his and she had hers. And now there wasnt a we.

The screen- A short story

I
Her fingers ran over the text message on her phone.” Hey, you are presumably a nice girl and I am sure you will find someone who is not a douche like me. I am seeing someone else and it wouldn’t be fair to her or to you that we communicate. Take care and have fun”.

She had waited two months for a text to appear. Every morning as she woke, the first thing she did was look at the phone. She’s always had this habit since that fateful morning her mum had called about her dad. Not one to look at her phone incessantly or even bother to reply to texts, she had perhaps slept through the first two calls her mum had made to her that morning, thinking her mum was just calling in sheer nervousness. When she finally did answer her phone, it was just to let her know that she should get onto a flight right now because the man who was her idol was now lying lifeless, far away in a hospital in Calcutta. And that was the last time she ever ignored her phone.

Her mum now lived alone in that house she had never known to be hers and while it was morbid and fatalistic, she knew that her phone was the only way she would know if anything horrible happened. Her friends laughed at her, he cited “expectations of communication” as one of the reasons but nobody knew the real reason she held onto her phone for dear life all the time.

II
She had met him “on the phone”. Twenty years after her relationship, the only one she had ever known and believed in, fell apart one sultry evening in July, her friends had insisted she get onto one of these dating apps that had become quite popular in the circuit.

“You are always on the phone” was what he had told her that evening while she stood in front of him trying to fathom why he had gone running into the arms of another woman seeking emotional comfort while she, his wife, didn’t know there was a world that existed outside him. It was ironic that he said this to her, straight-faced and absolutely unapologetic, considering he had spent apparently many an hour on the phone with this emotional anchor he had found. She looked away for a minute, gathered her nerves and asked him to find a house at the earliest and leave. She loved him for everything he was and everything he had given to her to make her who she was today. She had known him from the time she was 16 and today 20 years later even as she asked him to leave, she knew the love she had for him would never go. But this was the end. She would wish him well. It wasn’t her style, or so she thought, to hang onto something that clearly didn’t belong to her anymore.

III
He had this smile that reached from the corner of his mouth to his eyes. Wearing a blue tee, against a wide expanse of green, he looked down at her, smiling. She let it go, once, twice, thrice. But the fourth time she gave in. There was no harm. He seemed simple and nice and there was some sense of warmth that came right through the screen. Would he swipe right too, she thought as her thumb made its way across the screen. She was new to this, not knowing what to expect. Friends had all kinds of stories- good ones, creepy ones and hilarious ones. She didn’t know if she was ready. What was she looking for anyway?

It seemed to be a “match”. She looked at her phone nervously and wondered if she should say hi. There was enough hogwash about men making the first move and women seeming too desperate if they did. She never believed in that rubbish but all she could muster was a lame “hi”, not knowing whether he would even reply. 48 hours had passed and she gave up, thinking that it was perhaps her fat face or her love for beers she didn’t hide that made him stay away. No man would want to be with her. Heck, the man she thought would, had left her after 20 years. Why would someone else even bother. And as she lay there thinking of everything that could have gone through his head, her screen lit up. There he was, a very non-descript simple “hi” acknowledging hers.

IV
It was all uphill from there. They messaged each other, every single day, eight months straight. It didn’t matter that they were two countries apart with different time zones. He often laughed at her response time, almost immediately to any text, whether he lovingly complained about her laughter keeping him awake at night or telling her about the clear blue sky in Sydney and quoting a line from his favourite music, just to add that extra bit of warmth. He disappeared at times, days on end, making her sick with worry. And then he came back, every time, telling her he was caught up, he was ill, he was sorry. And that one text made all the difference. The anger that used to well up and blur her eyes with tears would melt that very moment and stream down her cheeks with relief, knowing he was well and safe, not realising she was going down the rabbit hole, falling desperately in love with a man she had never met.

Her friends told her to “speak” to him. ” Have a real phone conversation with him, go beyond text”, they told her. She knew they were right. She often asked him too but every time he put it off, she never brought it up, quite content with him just being there. They spoke about so many things, most of it being music. He promised to play for her, she promised to cook for him. He sent her music and many a selfie, looking goofy and flashing that smile that made her weak in the knees. She went to bed smiling, reliving the texts she sent him through the day, each day. Months passed. She spoke, he heard. He laughed, she loved.  And it was bang in the middle of one of these very simple Sunday afternoon lazy conversations that he disappeared. ” I think we shouldn’t talk. Your communication expectations are different from mine”, it read. She looked at the text, horrified and furiously punched away at her phone, explaining what she meant, asking him to calm down and listen to her. Many texts followed in the next two months. All, every single one of them, hers. Angry ones, pleading ones, lonely ones, loving ones. All emerging from a space of deep love, none tinged with even the slightest bit of regret.

V
“Hey, you are presumably a nice girl and I am sure you will find someone who is not a douche like me. I am seeing someone else and it wouldn’t be fair to her or to you that we communicate. Take care and have fun”.

She looked at the message, once, twice and many times over. Trying to make sense of it, she couldnt look at the words. They seemed to disappear under the blobs of tears that had now clouded her eyes, her brains and that part of the soul she was ready to share. This was what a breakup was like in the world of adult romance. Mature, crisp and apparently “fun”.

She relived that morning all over again. Putting together the end of her story, she decided it was time. He knew she wrote. He knew where to find her writing. Picking up her phone she scrolled down to his name. It would again be a text, from her to him. But it had to be done. He was loved. And he deserved to know it.

Letters to You-8

If I used all my energy to call you back
Would you come back to me?
If I washed your face with my tears
Would you be the rain for me?
If I lit up your world with my smile
Would your soul glow for me?

There was a time when our worlds were bound together
When our lives were not made of clay
When our garden of Eden bore proof of our love
And the nights melted into warm wonderful days

They all seem a haze now, my love
Like the road that never seems to end
The lights in the distant, flickering as I drive along
The pain though never seems to end

There will be a day, I tell my soul
When our lives will be inextricably linked like a chain
When my tears will melt into yours
And our smiles will never cease to end

I wait for that day, my love
For you to find your way back into my soul
For you to tear my heart open and bare
And write this story again

That morning

I knew you that morning
As the sun made its way into our lives
Breaking the darkness, all I saw
Were eyes that carried a whole new world
You sat there beside me
Telling me what a beautiful world it was out there
Your eyes sparkling
Telling me stories of lands you had traversed
The battles you had won
I reached out
To feel your fingers in mine
The smell of your skin lingering on my pillow
My fingers moved in the air
And as the light slowly entered the room
All I saw
Were shadows of a life gone by

The Dating Game or That’s What They Call It!

So the other day someone asked me to write a post about the rules and general information about online dating. I am not a pro at this ( apparently there are sites that make you pros at dating) but what I have come to realize is that dating games change considerably after a certain age. When you’re young, frisky and 20, life is a bed of roses and you’re still exploring or even trying to understand who you are. But by the time you’ve hit the 35 mark, life changes drastically in all aspects. So like all other things in your life, including the jeans you still want to fit into, the rules are different!

So here it goes:

  1. Do not be fake: The first and foremost golden rule of any kind of dating. When you are having conversations with someone online, it is very easy to say things and pretend to like/dislike things in order to impress the other person. But this facade cannot continue for long and before you know it, you would have dropped your guard. And if the other person has some basic semblance of a brain, they will pick up on those signs and there goes your little bubble in the air. Of course it doesn’t mean that you have to pour out your life story to every right swipe, but it might be a good idea to also not tell them you have a horse you ride on early mornings on weekends just to feel the wind in your hair
  2. Set your expectations right: It’s fair to say that a large majority of the people online are NOT looking for long-term relationships. For most it is a past time out of sheer boredom- just to find a companion, to have a conversation or even just to have a physical relationship. All moralities and judgements aside, it is very important to know what you want and what you expect from the other person before venturing into this arena. Mismatched expectations often end in heartbreak or STDs, either option not really being desirable
  3. Have a sense of humour: Most people online after a certain age have had their share fair of breakups, bad relationships, bruised egos…you know the drill. So they are out here looking for someone to make them feel better about themselves and the world in general. And therefore when you top up that line when you express interest, with just a wee bit of humour, it is very attractive. But I would suggest staying away from Santa-Banta jokes. That just means you need to get off that phone screen and go back to school
  4. Not advisable to share pictures right away: In the more serious sense of the problem, sharing pictures of physical anatomy a few days into the chat might be a bit dangerous. You dont know the person at the other end and therefore you never know where those pictures will land up and you definitely dont want it ending up in your cousin’s whatsapp one day through a viral chain. Also men sending pictures of their “package” is gross! It’s not attractive when it’s like an appendage and not in action. Rarely do women get turned on by such images. I would also think that if you are having good conversation, enjoy that. Dont ask for faces, close-ups and profiles. If they turn out to be butt-ugly thats the end of your good conversation because all you’ll think of is “that face”
  5. Always offer to split bills on your dates: You might be drinking wine and he might be drinking beer. Or he might be drinking chivas and you might be sipping something simple. Whatever it is, always offer to split the bill. If all goes well and you move beyond a first date, there will be enough opportunities for you to take each other out. But little do you want either party going back and telling friends what a sleazeball the other person was for not paying. Might never happen but always better to be safe than sorry! On the other hand, as someone said, men are like peacocks, they like to preen and like to display their feathers and apparently paying a bill is one of these displays! (dont ask me, ask the men!) So I guess the lesson is to play by ear. See how it goes. But also always keep that third eye open. If the other person is only ordering expensive stuff, knowing they arent paying or splitting the bill, that’s a sure shot sign to know that either he is trying to impress you by what he drinks and how much he appreciates fine scotch or that he is a just a weasel! Either way, bad news!
  6. Do your own thing: He might be the most amazing person you’ve ever met and you might be chatting continuously the first two days. But that momentum dies out. And when it does, it’s fine to catch up every few hours than sit in office and instead of looking at your laptop screen, look at the phone and wait for a text to pop up or send texts every 5 minutes just to make sure the other person is alive. He did survive before you arrived on the scene and will continue to do after you’re not there. So let them be. Do what you did normally and chances are he will think you’re normal and your office colleagues and friends will not have to send you a text on whatsapp to get your attention because you don’t look up from the phone anyway!
  7. Treat the other person as a friend first: You’ve got similar interests. You like each other. It’s the same with your friends. You like them too and you most probably don’t gush at everything they say. If you are anything like me, all your endearments for friends are lined with sarcasm and nasty jokes. Do the same here. Don’t start gushing over someone you met online after two conversations just because you have things in common. Either they’ll run because of this sudden gush of attention ( men CANNOT handle attention!) or they will just think you’re a creep. Not desirable either way.
  8. Don’t disappear on someone: This is just a basic lesson in courtesy. You are talking to someone and it’s going well. But you get bored suddenly. That’s possible. Unless the other person is rude and basically a jerk, always let them know if you are planning to discontinue this conversation. Helps the other person get clarity and like Rachael says “closure” and move on with dignity. Men also have a dire need for space and something they apparently call “internal processing time”. Yes, most women cant figure that out but it exists. So it’s ok if you or them need time away. Just inform the other person. If you cant or don’t, well there should be an option on these platforms where you could be marked out as a dolt.
  9. Your date is not your therapist: There are therapists available in every city and every country. Sign up with one if you need your emotional problems, childhood issues, or whatever is plaguing you, solved. Don’t treat your date as your therapist. The poor thing is not even getting paid! Have fun, talk about stuff, share problems whatever. But they arent here to solve your issues about how a childhood breakup is not letting you trust anyone anymore. Figure out your problems. This is a dating site, not online psychic therapy
  10. Play it simple: Lastly, play it simple. It’s a date. Not an emergency c-section in a war fraught zone. It’s not the be-all and end-all of life. Treat it as that. Enjoy it as it is and while it lasts. If it goes onto becoming something else, good for you. If it doesnt, it’s fine. Not the end of the world. Kahani toh abhi baaki hai mere dost!