Kamal lay on his bed staring at the ceiling fan as it completed one rotation in about four seconds even at the speed of two. As usual, his sleep was broken by the conversation of his mother and the maid at 6.45 am. It was only at about 5-ish that he had managed to sleep.
It wasn’t unusual for Kamal to be awake through the wee hours of the morning and retire to bed only when he could hear the birds chirping outside. His room smelt of gold flakes. He’d smoked about three cigarettes before going to sleep – his second pack for the day, while he was going through Avika’s pictures on his phone. He was lost into the past so much that he’d forgotten to open the windows and the smoke had created a very repelling smell. Kamal reached out to his side table drawer to pull out the packet of Sugandham Agarbatti. Nobody knocked at Kamal’s door unless he opened the door himself and soon it would be time for the maid to do the cleaning. He hated the maid so much that he ranted at her more than twice for coming so early.
The last five years were playing like a flashback in his mind. He’d been with Avika for five years, although not completely. They were together sporadically and commitment was not the word that compelled him to constantly look out of the relationship. She was 23 and so sure that she wanted to be with him; he was 27 and yet unsure about any of the relationships that he had been in. Her words played like a background score in his mind. “I just don’t want any more complications in my life. We’re not meant to be.” She had finally decided to walk out of what seemed to be like the perfect relationship once upon a time. It had been a month since he had cut off communication with Avika for the umpteenth number of time because of a fight and had expected her to get back as usual.
Kamal had just got back from Kochi three days back. He’d been there to meet Shivi. She had mentioned that she had this urge to meet him, again. He flew down to surprise her. They spent two days together; holding hands, walking under the moonlit sky, drinking alcohol together, looking into each others eyes, kissing each other and doing everything that couples do.
Shivi knew that Kamal had cut off from Avika. She was glad he had and believed it was because of her.
“I don’t think this has a future,” he’d told Shivi during one of those moments.
“It’s okay. Let’s not think about the future,” she responded.
Shivi had gone to see him off at the railway station. “Please don’t come. Don’t make it difficult for me to leave,” is what he’d told her. “I won’t, I promise. I just want to see you off,” she said.
This time, Shivi had abstained from holding his hand. He didn’t show any signs of doing so either. Only she could understand the sea of emotions inside her. Shivi kept looking at him as he hastily finished his idli sambar. He refused to acknowledge her gaze but gave her a sheepish smile.
“Leave now. I’ll be fine,” he said. There was still half an hour for the train to arrive. As much as Shivi wanted to stay back, she didn’t want to appear to be any more vulnerable. She agreed to leave and he walked her up till her bike. Kamal was 6ft tall, Shivi was 5. He gave her a side hug. “Tie your hair henceforth,” he told her. Shivi took his hand in hers and smiled. Her eyes spoke volumes and Kamal understood that. Before it could have got any more awkward, Shivi kick started her bike and drove off.
While he was on the train he got a text from Shivi that said, “I miss you” to which he replied “I just got a place to sit sometime back,”.
Kamal made a wholehearted attempt to get back to his routine as soon as he was back to Chennai. And routine meant having Avika around. He was so used to her coming back to him, that reality seemed a delusion.
It wasn’t the first time that Kamal had got intimate with someone besides Avika; he was probably not even thinking about it. Or maybe he was and that’s why he was avoiding any conversation with Shivi.
The maid knocked at the door. “Vantu piṉṉar (come later),” he yelled. He was back to going through Avika’s pictures. He stopped at a particular one taken from their trip to Coorg. He instagrammed the picture and uploaded it. He never put captions to his pictures. This one however had one – #lostlove
“Back to being friends with Avi on fb again eh?” Shivi pinged him. She’d noticed that they were back to being friends on fb and had obviously seen the recent update.
“I asked for it. She has feelings for someone else. We didn’t talk for a month and it’s over. I doubt any girl can take her place. I’ve dated plenty of girls, but I’ve never felt the unconditional love and care. No one could be her,” he went on.
Shivi put her phone away. All this was just twelve hours after she’d instagrammed the picture of the note he’d scribbled to her. Shivi was at a loss of words.
“Lost love?!” she thought to herself.