She had stopped wearing kajal. She didnt want the compliments her large kajal adorned eyes attracted. She had stopped smiling, wary of the compliments her smile would bring on. She was wary of compliments, she was wary of letting her guard down. She was scared of getting hurt.
Nothing seemed real anymore. No one seemed genuine.
"Lift out of Order"
She looked at the watchman with questioning eyes. 'Maintenance ke liye band hai bibijee...1 hafta nahi chalega" came the reply.
She nodded. Her mom was right when she had asked her not to take the 7th floor flat. "What if the lift stops working or there is a fire..how will you manage to get down" she had argued. But she loved heights. None of her mom's persuasion had worked. “Hmmpt..ziddhi hai apne dad ki tarah” her mom had grumbled.
Another imperfection in her imperfect world.
Not so long ago, she loved taking the stairs. She thought of it as the exercise she desperately needed. The full-length mirrors on each floor made the climb up pleasurable. She could see the way her face slowly turned red as she climbed up floor by floor.
But things were different now. The break up had changed everything.
All she wanted to do now, was to take the elevator to her flat, lie on the bed and cry. It had been 6 months now and she still wasn’t over him. The phone calls that went unanswered and the emails that weren’t replied to, only added to her grief. The climb up reminded her of the numerous times they had raced up these stairs, he always slowing down to let her win. Breathless, opening the door would seem like a chore. The view from the top, with a coffee cup on a lazy morning while the rains poured, the sweet nothings, the giggles, the smiles, the hugs, all seemed like a lifetime from the past.
3 years of togetherness, now nothing.
By the time she turned up towards the fourth floor she was already breathless. She clutched her sides and rummaged through her bag for a bottle of water..it was then that she saw him.
Sprawled across the floor in his 4th floor apartment, he was busy reading a book. His curly mop of hair was unkempt and he seemed oblivious to the world. A half eaten pizza was strewen near his feet. She couldn’t stop staring at him. She had never seen something so beautiful, so perfect. He felt her eyes on him and looked up. And smiled.
Ooohhhh..a dimply smile. And beautiful brown eyes.
“Hi, My name is Rahul."
“Hi, You new here?”
“Yea, just moved in a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t told the lift here needs to be closed for maintenance. Doesn’t happen anywhere else.” He rolled his eyes
“Yea, we are kinda used to climbing the stairs now” She shrugged
“Thank God, I live on the 4th floor. Sorry about the mess though. I am a writer. You will find me sprawled across on the floor all day. I hope for your sake, that you don’t have to take the stairs everyday.” He laughed.
She nodded and continued climbing.
It was weird how easy it was talking to him. She wasn’t the type to talk to random guys. But there was something about him that wasn’t random. Like she knew him from somewhere. He seemed so likeable, so friendly.
Back home, the phone rang. A couple of ‘yes’ and ‘hmms’ and ‘I will be there in 15 mins’ later, she hung up.
As she dressed, her mind wandered. She could have sworn that the guy who seemed so real a while ago was all but a fragment of her imagination. He was too good to be true, too perfect. She shook her head but his dimply smile refused to leave. You will find me sprawled across on the floor all day his words rang in her head. Suddenly, the climb down the stairs didn’t seem that bad.
She smiled at the mirror as she applied kajal to her big beautiful eyes.