I was new to the city. Like everybody else, employment whom we give metaphors of ambition, dreams or a bright future dragged me to urban hotchpotch. I shifted with two more job seekers who were a kind of “not much caring about the world” but I mingled with them comfortably. Perhaps, I didn’t seek for reason in whom to trust or whom not to. Only aspect which held us common was smoking which transformed our threads into unbreakable bonds.
A tea point was immediate to our ground floor though it sold more cigarettes than tea. Relishing the puff was always more satiating than the fear of impending disasters. Gradually that tea point became part of routine for my lungs.
On one of the usual evenings, instead of smoking at the common spot, I intended to walk a few steps without any reason. Volatile brains always seek for change in the pattern. After around ten minutes, I couldn’t find anything different as always. Big cities always have so much of noise that you overlook even your heartbeats. Morality and humanity are pity elements to be subdued in cacophony. I halted on a tea stall, asked for my usual brand, lit the cigarette.
It was the first puff I blew in the air, I heard the most beautiful sound. I heard the voice of someone crying, full of innocence, shrillness, and a melodious sobriety in her voice. Even the god would have forced me not to turn, I would have denied him for my desire to look at her, and there she was, crying, shouting at her mother, at the boutique shop, probably run by her mother. I could have told the reason why she was crying, if my eyes were not so much fixated to cheat my ears. In a shop full of ornaments women adorn themselves with, she was the only one garbed with simplicity. A half cut t shirt with cartoon characters, pink Capri and her insurmountable child within her wiping her tears over and over again made me forget for how long I was holding the cigarette in front of my lips. Within moments, she left the shop in reaction to what her mother had told her. I could see her taking long strides towards the bridge across which she probably lived. Romantic delusion was very transient and the noisy world around was back including murmurs about the scene just occurred.
You don’t always need a joke to stretch your lips. If you are in love, your whole body smiles from within and you stay happy lost in her visuals in repeat telecast. I was back at my residence but I have left my real self at the boutique shop. Her crying scene was seeming more disastrous than the smoke I choked my lungs with. I was finding myself restless in bed, sleepless with eyes, speechless by words. I was skipping my heart with mere a thought of looking at her again. I don’t remember if I slept that night or overslept with her dreams. Woke up with storms in my head, strides towards boutique as if swimming faster to reach the shore and before reaching the cigarette stall, gave a cursory look towards the boutique and got overwhelmed with delusions of romanticism again, but my conscience triggered to ask for the cigarette, usual brand, pretended not to look back at her, lit, took the first puff and defeated all my denial and fixed my glance at her. Puff foggy in front of me, through the hazy smoke, an innocent, simple, a magician who can surpass all the rational hormonal reasons behind love or infatuations, was dealing with typical socially-fitted ladies with a sea of grief in her heart. I had reached the shore, a shore I could spend every life god can afford me if she would be with me. Never felt the same, never puffed so sweet, never slowed down time, never ignored the loud noises of cities, never looked for so long, never thought I would be entangled in web of emotions where social structures would bound to break. For no one to notice, I looked down once, walked a step and stared again, puffed again. My cigarette was never so harmonious with look at the features of a woman. Love is never a categorization about what I want from her, it’s just an uncontrollable desire that I want her. I didn’t want to kiss her, or hug her or have sex with her or have a romantic word play with her, I just wanted her. I was in a cave with multiple directions all around and I wanted to adventure in every corner of it.
Finished with harming my lungs, I moved towards my residence with heavy legs and unwanted heart, but social norms forced me not to look at my love as much as my eyes desired. People get different habits, I got used to imagining her in every single puff. What can be more detrimental than smoking just to fall in love every time. I started visiting the stall thrice a day just to reach the shore and to relish her glimpses, to see my smoke turning into her statue, to stare at her sad face as if moon was not ready to be called beautiful today when she was the most beautiful thing god could imagine . Until when she realized that a person with cigarette in his hand has been staring at her from days. My eyes as usual was without blink fixated at her skinny slippery face when she reverted her confused look at me. For a moment, I got struck with astonishment, next I stole my glances as if not pretending to look at her. My hands shivering, heart pounding as thief is caught red handed, though she looked at me with skepticism, but with not even an iota of hatred. The whole world around restricted both of us from desire, mine to bring her close enough and her to ask why I was staring at her. I was stuffed with embarrassment, and she was replete with doubt. That day, I walked faster towards my room because I felt like a thief, but not getting your desire has more powerful fear than the death itself. After a week of hide and seek love, I could not resist without having a sight of her.
At night, after usual dinner, I thought to smoke outside in natural air because living alone made me feel living with her hands in my hands. I walked to her shop, went to the bridge where all the street lights were not working, stood beneath the clear sky full of stars, beneath me lied the calm water, I lit my cigarette. We believe in fate or not, fate has its own stories to tell. Street lights lit up, and she was standing on the bridge a few steps far from me looking at the still water. I thought my heart was my own, but the way it started pumping, I realized it was made for someone else because it was no more in my control. It was difficult to differentiate between dream and reality when your own desire was a step away from you. I pretended to be busy in smoking, realizing my movements, she stared at me for a moment, continued, then she started looking back at the calm lake. What would you do when you realize death is more beautiful than the life but you don’t want to die as your instinct? I thought I would die without her but talking to her would destroy my romantic paradise I created . From nowhere, “you can talk to me if you want” reached my ears. Should I believe it or I should follow it confused me between suspended reality and my interpreted world. Smoke wasting itself in free air out of my cigarette, I walked towards her, slower than the wind with nerves chilled by soaking fear. I stood beside her. After a momentary silence which seemed light years to me, she asked if I was dumb or frightened to utter a word. I looked at her, she looked towards me, a few seconds as if time never existed, I asked why she was crying that day. Though she explained about her own desire to work on her own terms or to study further, her face with lip moving seemed to be more fascinating than her reasons, because love has no words, if it has, it doesn’t mean anything. Soon after closing her shop, she was returning to her home when she decided to stay for a while because of her volatile decisions as mine. She wished to return home as her only parent, her mother must be waiting for her. I didn’t ask what happened to her father, what she wants out of her life, what makes her stare at a calm lake, what makes her ask me to talk to her, what I was delved with was her fragrance and her sound of breathing. I was obsessed with my love or her attraction, but I was delusional. In no time, bridge finished itself, but my thoughts didn’t. I don’t even remember if I spoke a word, but she spoke to me was more significant than what she spoke. She left me saying across streets lied her home but I got used to see her at boutique with cigarette in my hand. I could see my life taking shapes with her, could imagine waking up with her at my side, could see her hugging me and kissing me at my neck, could see wiping her tears like the first day in front of me, but all in my thoughts. I didn’t see lake, didn’t feel the air, didn’t realize when I came to my residence, but I was still with her. Imagine a situation when you have to touch yourself to realize if you are alive or dead, I did the same when I opened my eyes with sun next day. Her words with me on the bridge was pumping my heart with confidence, and my smile was looking for a social reason to explain my roommates. For the first time, I didn’t think to smoke though I was going to a cigarette stall. My soul was in quest of her soul. I never walked faster, never though more fuzzy, perhaps never felt in love. As usual, a cursory look at the bouquet, but my legs, my breathes, my heart and my emotions everything stopped because I couldn’t see her. Time froze because for the first time in my life, I didn’t ask for cigarette after reaching there. Though I consoled my heart, she might be sick or she would come after sometime or she might be playing with me hiding somewhere after realizing my love for her, but I smoked from the first ray of sun to the last ray, not a single one worked to get my love in front of my eye. I could see my hazy smoke all around, but never heard that beautiful cry again. I am still waiting for that cigarette whose puff would show her innocent beautiful face.