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City Lovers by Aarthi Seshadri

Art by Wayne Thiebaud

One cold January evening, I left the door open. I sat on my torn little couch, staring intently at the bright white tube-light flicker in irregular patterns outside the door. I had never noticed it before. It oddly matched the sound of my nails tapping nervously on my phone screen. I scanned the room, up and down the yellow walls, the orange chart paper that covered the bulb, the broken dining table, to the phone screen ominously showing the three dots that said, ‘he is typing… dot dot dot.’

Up until this point in my life, I thought I already went through the phase of somersaulting butterflies. Every time my eyes wandered around the room, every inanimate object questioned, Am I ready to see someone new? Is this happening already? Do I smell okay? Does this mean I’ve moved on? You see, this was an entirely new territory, especially after being in mad love for six long years.The three dots said, “Actually, I’m feeling tired. Should we meet another day?” I sank into the couch, relieved, almost ready to take off my sweater, get under the blanket and pass out. I knew it wasn’t time for me to move on yet. I still needed to brood, cry and drunk dial my way into my late twenties. My thoughts were only cut halfway to see the three dots alive again, “he is typing… dot dot dot.” It said, “I’m sorry, I wanted to see you tonight. So I’m seeing you. See you in a few.” I sprung up, slightly mad at his optimism and back to gazing intently at the light flickering and nails tapping.

As I anxiously paved my path outside the door, down the three flights of stairs, memories of the past six years flashed before my eyes indicating the death of my first real love. And as I restlessly locked myself into the deep black eyes of my potential new love, he held his arms out and I was too quick to embrace him. I placed my face on his shoulder, felt the cool wind in his hair and the warm touch of his hands on my back. I wish I were able to see the perfume he was wearing. I’m sure it would be beautiful. He was beautiful. As we organically walked out of the gate, into the streets, his warm, primal, lusty smell took over my thoughts and words. The banter of music, work, the city, the weather continued till we spotted a patisserie. Every inch he moved closer, I noticed his kind eyes and mostly safe and comforting smell. Like home, only wilder.

We walked back home, with conversations filled with wonderful silences. One thing I knew for sure, that this story was going to be so great that it could ruin my life. After the introductory glances with friends at home, we lay on the bed, high, watching the fan move in circles, slowly and meaningfully. Whether I liked it or not, this violent beauty next to me was making an absurd world familiar (or vice versa.) A sudden touch felt like a slow burn, a gentle rub colonized the thoughts in my head. He moved quietly, almost without even me noticing and our first kiss seemed like high wire acts of imagination that turned me into a breathless witness.

The next few minutes had a dramatic effect on my senses. I thought about the peanut butter cheesecake that didn’t even have a chance to finish its melting, shape-shift into some kind of sugary cement. As the night passed, the whole world had been destroyed around me and then rebuilt, and nothing was quite the same again. Except the cheesecake. We stole glances over the dim light, devouring the cheesecake.

One cold January morning, I smiled as he walked out. I left the door wide open.

No more closed doors.

Aarthi works as an Education Consultant in the development sector. She loves writing about people, food and food of the people! Rahman's music, rasam and sarees are her other favourite things to indulge in. You can read her work here: An Old Quarantine | A Glass of Milk | 90s Breakfast Club


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