31.8.11

winter

I remember that first night most vividly. A cold, Delhi winter's night, so foggy we could hardly see our feet, and it was beginning to drizzle ever so slightly. You had offered to drop me home in your car. Even though we had been meeting everyday and making the most perfunctory conversation, arguing in class and supplementing each other's questions, we were strangers to each other. I knew but your name, and if I have to be completely honest, I really don't know much else even now. I remember you were a bit nervous about what music I'd like. Did you really think I was the type who'd say "bollywood ke gaane," because you could scarcely hide your surprise when I sang along to 'Elephant Gun'.

That was when things were good. When we would have mundane conversations over coffee or beer about what imagery we lend to some songs, or what stories we thought they were telling us. That was when things were romantic. When we went to a monument every Saturday for history walk, but made up histories of our own about the maid and the guard and spoke about the couples under the trees. That was also when things were steamy, with adrak chai and pakodas, and ice cream that never melted.

When Delhi started getting hot, you started going cold. You'd leave class before I could even say hi, you'd spend all our time together in silence, you wouldn't respond to my messages, you would take my calls but hardly listen to what I was saying, hang up without saying a single thing. I knew everything about you (I knew that listening to the Beatles makes you think in cartoons, I knew that pink strawberry icecream reminds you of elephants, I knew that you didn't like reading Pratchett because he puts too much effort into being funny, and that you love Rahman enough to listen to his music even in a strange language like Tamil) and you, me. But I wasn't close enough to tell you that I was angry, I wasn't friend enough to be mean to you, I wasn't sure enough to tell you I love you.

When summer reached its peak, we were strangers again. You'd smile at me in the corridors, and I'd nod back, and that's all the warmth we could manage for each other, in that incredible heat. And that's what we remained, strangers who had perhaps shared a song and a conversation.

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