The National Geographic cast eerie shadows on the walls around us. The rickety fan directly above us wore on, doing nothing to counter the summer night’s heat. We were hot and sweaty, but entwined in each others’ arms and legs, reveling in a bliss all our own. The two of us, the architects of our conjoined happiness.
I smiled at the incredulity of it all.
“What are you so happy about”, she asked.
We were sitting up in bed, two parts of a post coital embrace taking in the sudden surge of happy hormones.
“What”, I asked a little startled.
“You were smiling just now”, she said.
I broke the hold she had on me, and looked at her face, brushing aside a little hair.
“You think I can’t tell if you’re smiling behind my back”, she said, her chin up in mock defiance.
My smile grew wider and I kissed her cheek.
“You’re glowing”, I said. It was true. She was radiant. She looked chemically high.
“Ah yes, it’s the sex I suppose”, she stated matter-of-fact’ly.
“Ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta”, she started cooing.
I nudged in closer, eager to not miss anything. She continued humming.
“Why won’t you sing for me”, I asked although I knew why. I had asked her a hundred times before.
The NGC shadows lengthened, more dancing shadows around us. As if we were lying embraced near a flickering fire.
I looked over every now and then to catch a glimpse of what was on the show – Taboo. Within seconds though I would miss the warmth of her neck and would rush back to nestling against it.
It was night, late night, way past midnight for sure.
I grinned at her use of the ‘s’ word. She would normally chastise me for saying the ‘s’ or the ‘f’ word. She preferred other less direct references. “Doing it”, “Hanging out”. Never “having sex”, never “fucking”.
My grin broke out into a hearty laugh. I was at peace, so in love. A smile, a mere grin, a chuckle, it wouldn’t contain my mirth. I laughed with her, toying with her bare arms.
At first, she smiled back at my laughter. But then said, “Not so loud, not so loud”.
The joy drained off my face. She felt the change instantly and clutched at me again, in an attempt to mollify me. I tried to stay in the moment, in that dark room with the television’s shadows serenading us, afraid to let my thoughts wander. I knew what would happen if they did wander, if they did fly away from there, and attach themselves to that one thought. The bliss around me, it would dissipate in the warm air of the rickety fan above us.
I lay against her, a little stiff.
“Nenjukkulla, Umma mudinjirukken”, she crooned.
Breathing against my ear, waiting for a reaction. My limbs loosened slightly and she went on.
“Inga yethisaiyil, Yempozhappu vidinjirukko”
I closed my eyes, willing to stay with her. That song, her body against me, she singing to me, in that hot summer room. It worked.
I lay faint against her, captivated by her and the song. She let go and fished around the bed for a phone. My jeans lay beside her, crumpled. She plucked it out and played the song. The harmonica gently wafted into our strained consciousness.
“This song. This is our song”, she said.
I didn’t reply. I listened to it, wrapped in her caress. She sighed in satisfaction, very much there, in that moment. It enveloped me in a bitter sweetness.
What sense lay in us having a song? I love everything now – her, the song, her bed and the insane number of pillows on it, the song, our song. But what of tomorrow? When the song stays but she doesn’t? Switching channels on my television years from now, what if this harmonica comes back to haunt me, what if this song leaps up at me?
She slowly disengaged. I knowingly obliged. I picked up my shirt and jeans wordlessly. Dawn was about to break. I averted her gaze but I could feel her searching eyes on me.
“He’s coming in the morning”, she said simply, in explanation. I had guessed as much.
I slipped the shirt on. It smelled achingly of her already. How long before it lost her scent?
“My phone”, I asked. She turned it over. “Nenjukulle” played on until I hit the stop button.
Write Club Hyderabad – Reflections & Shadows, February 2018.