I thought of him every day, and many a days, I used to drive up to his home and just stand outside his window, hoping he would crack open that curtain and see my car and know I was there. Then he would know that for me, it wasn’t over. I had realized it yesterday. A song made me realize that I was still where I was 5 years ago. This wasn’t over. It couldn’t be. The singer was singing about how sometimes love lasts but sometimes it just hurts. And mine was supposed to last. We had met on a cold Delhi winter’s day in Nehru Park – just walking our dogs. My golden retriever had taken more than a friendly interest in his tiny Apso, and as they canoodled, we had looked at each other and shyly introduced ourselves. His name was Karan, and I had compared him to the mythological Karan as soon as I met him — kind, check, generous, check, serious, check, gorgeous, check. According to some legends, Karna had loved Draupadi the whole time but never professed his love. I didn’t want that to happen with us. So I had made the first move. Looking back, maybe that’s where I made my first mistake.
For a while though it seemed as if he wasn’t interested. He was always the one to put the phone down first, the one to break away from long breathless kisses in cold isolated museum corridors, and always the one to cancel plans. He had the upper hand, but I had a feeling he was going to come around. After all, he would see that I was everything he ever wanted.
And then one day, before I knew what was happening, he realized it. Maybe I had secretly thought it will never happen — that I would mope and cry when he told me there was someone else. But that winter, he waited outside my hostel dorm till I got home from class. As I had walked up to him and smiled, he stood really close to me, with barely any space between our bodies for the cold air to pass through and had said “I love you” into my lips – his frosty breath melting into mine. We were a sight that day – standing breathing into each other’s mouths with the white haze around us forming little hearts. Or at least that’s what it looked like to me. It was a heady feeling. We stood like that for seconds but it felt like many hours. Karan’s words had made me forget about everything else. It was like the first time you realize your body registers desire, that current — you know what I mean right?
Later, we took a rickshaw ride and went to eat momos at our favourite guy’s stall, but somehow we didn’t talk much that night. It was as if his words had said everything we could ever have to say to each other. There was just one more thing to do. We had to touch each other. We had to feel each other before the desire took a form of its own. And so later that night, we kissed each other hungrily in a dark film theatre, surrounded by many others like us, who just wanted to get some loving heat that chilly night.
And so it had happened. He had told me he loved me, and I had what I always wanted. And he seemed happy too. I looked at his face every day to gauge if he still meant those words. But though he hugged me and let me snuggle into his arms, the hearts in the air didn’t form anymore. He seemed happy though. I remember asking my brain to not be paranoid. Days were passing by – the cold I loved so much abandoned me and the sun came out. It was Delhi’s heat and Karan seemed to be thriving as much as I grew dry. And that’s when I felt it first. The “I Love Yous” were still there, but our bodies – one hot with energy and one hot with fever—were starting to chaff off each other. And there was a bad kind of quiet in our lonely moments. Yes, they were lonely. Because even though I was still living in the night that the icy hearts brought us together, Karan was already spiraling far away in a supernova that was too bright for my liking.
Does this happen with everyone, I remember thinking. Does all kind of love wear off? Why were my opinions, that he found so charming before (even when I said Rahul Gandhi was my vote for PM and that people should never wear tiny, tiny shorts), now unbearable to him? Was my smile now just a pale reflection of what it used to be? Was it only in the winter that I seemed desirable? Did I just fade away in the summer? He seemed indifferent to my questions, and every day, the conversations got shorter. It was a year later, and he stood outside my college gate again. This time, his frosty breaths just froze me over. “It was over” were the three words for this year. It was over.
But as I said, it wasn’t over for me. It had been five years and it wasn’t over. You just don’t walk out on this kind of love. You need to work at it. Why had it taken me so long to realize it? Karan was with someone else now. I had heard they met in a bar. And that he had wooed her for months before she even agreed to go out alone with him. Her roommate knew a friend of mine and so every painful detail of their courtship was for my perusal. In some sadistic way, I wanted to hear everything as well. He had placed roses all over the house when she wasn’t there, cooked her dinners, staked outside her house in the rain – he had become majnu for her, and she had finally relented. She wasn’t even pretty – her strange Goth clothes hung over her size zero body like body bags. For some reason, that made me think of her in a real body bag — the body bag they would carry her out in after I plucked her eyes like Beatrix Kiddo. But he loved that body bag girl –he had pretended he needed her desperately, and she had finally relented. She had been taken in by his lies. Didn’t she know he would leave her like he left me? At least I knew he loved me. Yes, he had, he had said it so many times. Sometimes I used to count how many times he said it in a day – and once he said it 19 times. Wasn’t that just lovely? Nineteen times, in a world where people didn’t even give you 19 seconds of their time.
He had loved me, and he was just infatuated with her. Five years was long enough for an infatuation. They had moved in together and stayed in a barsaati in Lokhandwala, that struggler haven in Mumbai. I had left my Delhi to be close to him. Not so surprisingly, she wanted to be an actress. How original! I had always thought that my friends who hated their ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend were crazy. After all, he is the one they should have hated. But now I found myself in that position. I didn’t hate him. If it was possible, I craved for him even more. Sometimes I lay on my bed and curled into a fetal position and just said his name over and over, hoping he would hear it 40 kms away. I tried to think about him intensely so that he would feel the brain waves and get drawn to me. I did hate her, hate her so much. I just wanted to poke her with needles one puffed lip at a time. I wanted her to die a slow painful death. I hated her and she would feel what I was feeling when he left her – for me.
I was standing outside his apartment building. It was five years later. I could see the fairy lights that twinkled from his window. I was going to go up there and tell him that it wasn’t over and he needed to come home with me. And he would agree, he would see me and remember that night in the winter of 2007. He would remember and then he would regret it and then he would hold me all night. Yes, this felt nice.
And as for his girlfriend, she didn’t want to mess with me. If I had to, I could become my Beatrix Kiddo, aka Black Mamba, version in a second, and I really didn’t think it was morally wrong for me to kill her. I had the justification ready in my head—it was scary. I could cold-bloodily tell myself that a person like her didn’t add any value to the world and if she disappeared, no one would even care. So she better keep away.
I was wearing my sexiest dress that just ended below my crotch and my pink bra peeped out of its deep neck. Oh yes, he wouldn’t be able to not want this. I know I do sound psycho – much like Christian Bale in American Psycho – throwing chainsaws on people. But I was more like the Joker – I saw sense in all that I was doing. “See, I’m not a monster…I’m just ahead of the curve.” I wasn’t mad. I was the one in control.
There were times I had thought of letting Karan go. I was gorgeous and too smart for my own good. I would have found someone every easily. I knew I was a catch. But that’s exactly why I wanted to be with Karan – he understood me, he knew my nooks and crannies, he could clean those dirty thoughts away from the dark corners of my mind. So once I got him, I would abandon the Joker and go back to being Merry Poppins herself. Though, secretly I always thought Merry Poppins was dark in her own way. Sometimes the nicest looking people are the scariest. Like that bunch on FRIENDS. I remember one night getting high on hash cake and seeing once and for all clearly what the FRIENDS’s bullshit was all about. They were dark, distorted people. That Monica, with all her OCD screeching away, Rachel the selfish slut, Phoebe the wannabe savior of the world, Chandler the loser who used humour to make himself seem more likable, Ross the pushover, and Joey… well, Joey was normal. Yes, he didn’t pretend to be anything, and that’s why I liked him. I was like him.
I wasn’t trying to be nice. I was as bad as I could be, and you can’t hold that against me. I was honest right. Ok, I needed to stop talking. I must have looked strange standing there in the rain in that dress that seemed to be shrinking. As I climbed the 15 floors to his apartment – I never took lifts, they strangled me — I had time to think about why did I really love this man who wasn’t really nice? I mean yes, there was that lovely declaration of love. But there was also the time I had spent with him later. And those had not been the most fun. He was cheap, and not in the way you would think. He didn’t grope me in the middle of the road, or crack explicit jokes at my expense. Instead he used to take my money. Once he pocketed the change brought to me by the pizza guy. What did that say about him? That was my Rs 100, you moocher, I had thought in my head as he neatly filed the note in his wallet and gave me a look that said, “you think I am adorable, right?” I know that sounds pretty pathetic even for me, but I was in love like fools usually are– I did all the work and got nothing in return. Maybe I needed this man to make me believe I was exactly like the portrait in my head — I, the Princess of Darkness, the Queen of Sunshine, the biggest bitch that ever lived, and the gem of this earth. Me, who was every woman a man wanted and every woman aspired to be. I needed a man to make me feel worth all my delusions.
And so I kept on loving him – you know the kind of love I have been talking about – the one that doesn’t end even five years. Five years of him being with someone else – someone so completely opposite of who I was. It was like he wanted to date her just so he would forget me. Did people do that?
Well, anyway, so even if I didn’t like him much I did love him. Yes, that’s just the way it works. I didn’t like him with my mind, but with my heart, I was crazy for him. Ok, enough with all the justifications. I had to get there and just tell him that I loved him, and that was that. And then he would look at my dress and say yes just like that. And then that bag lady with him would seem exactly like what she really was – a usurper of my property. And so I rang the bell. There was a slight hustle behind the door and I saw a small head peak out – It was the bag lady. She looked even smaller than I thought she was. “Siya, what are you doing here,” she asked me. I gulped, now how could I put this? “I have come to make Karan mine again. So if you move aside, I want to talk to him.”
She gave a smile – a crazy smile – and I was a little bit like, “Hey bitch, keep those grins for your next boyfriend.”
“Well, he can’t move right now,” she said.
“Why? Do you have him shackled to a bed or something, playing sexy kinky games?” I grimaced.
“Something like that, but less sexy and more scary,” she smiled again.
Now I didn’t know if it was due to those serial killer books I had got hooked on too, but I knew all was not all right inside that flat. She opened the door silently, and beckoned me to walk behind her. Her small frame was dressed in an oversized black kurta that looked much like a tent, and was swaying in front of me like death’s cloak. Her hair was short now, like she had cut it herself, and her eyes were thick with kohl. “He is here – take a load of that.”
And was it a load to take – that muscular body – with the six-pack that I had loved so much – was lying on the floor in a circle of blood. His eyes were scared and open wide in amazement. And where his heart used to be, was just one big hole. “It’s in the fridge. I wanted to make sure I preserved the hatred.”
“Aren’t you happy I did this?” she continued. “After all, look at the way he treated you. I know he told you that you were ugly. He used to tell me all the time. He deserved to die. I had a good thing with him but he was just getting into my head. He wooed me with the lovely declaration of love and I was hooked. I was like a pet rat. But rats bite if they need to.”
She sat down just looking at the body, staring at it, and kept playing with the blood on her hands. “Did you really love him enough to come here to ask him to be with you again?” she asked me and I strangely found myself thinking about a double cheese pizza I wanted to go eat after this thing was over. I was digressing. I shook my head, not really answering her question, but getting myself back to the present. “I thought I did. But I don’t know now. Did you love him?” I asked her.
She got up, and slowly started circling his body, “Maybe. Maybe that’s why I killed him, because I f he had been alive, I would have never been able to let go, and so… but I am sorry if you still loved him,” she smiled and touched my cheek with her bloody hand. “Holi hai!” I almost shouted. I really had to schedule that psychiatrist’s appointment. And then she kissed me on my lips – I had to stop reading serial killer thrillers, I was really losing the plot – first trying to get a man back into my life, then having an inane conversation with his killer and now kissing the killer. But it felt natural.
She kissed well, this little minx. And even though I was aware of the fact that I was kissing a girl, I was even more aware of the fact that I really I didn’t care that Karan was dead. And that his heart was in the fridge. I felt like the Snowman from Jo Nesbo’s book. I felt that there was justice in all of this. He needed to die. He had been a bad man. She was looking at me in surprise, “You are different from what he made you out to be. I like you.”
“I like you too,” I said, “Now why don’t we get the hell out of here?”
We started laughing hysterically. And when we were done, our sides were aching but our hearts were healed. It was time to start anew. We both held hands and walked out. And once again, Kill Bill was playing in my head. And I could hear the famous Bill’s words to Beatrix kiddo, AKA me, as I got into the lift with her and as those claustrophobic doors shut. “You’re not a bad person. You’re a terrific person. You’re my favorite person, but every once in a while, you can be a real cunt.”