It's a hard day's night. But I ask myself as I tiptoe back to my second floor flat, "Which night isn't?".
I knock gently at the door, careful to not use the doorbell. The door opens in a flash and I hold on to the stairs trying not to fall off as she wraps her arms around my legs and screams, "You're home! Yay! Now we'll have dinner, we'll finish the ice cream and I'll kiss you just as you like it when you tell me that you love me!"
Ok, now I'm this short of screaming out loud. Do I blame her for all that I've lost? Or just that one thing that I've lost and I'm the poorest man in the world? Do I blame her for loving me this crazily? Do I blame her for reminding me of my only heartbreak over and over again? Do I blame her for being such a spitting image of her mother, the woman who'd probably be the other person hugging me right now at this unearthly hour and probably saying the same things? Hold back a while darling and let me think am I insane to be loving you or even crazier to doubt if I should be loving you? Hold on, darling, hold on!
She locks up her other best friend in her room lest his barks and craving for attention should hog into her moment in the sun. And I'm so crazy to already think that I'm her best friend. I doubt too much. It's just fitting that I should be so lonely. I deserve it.
As I walk out of the shower and slip into 'something comfortable', she narrates how she punched down the bully in her class who was trying to snatch the sandwich she fixed for herself in the morning. She had, in all her 5-year of innocence, slipped in one half of the same almost neatly packed in foil paper into my haversack. She is careful not to ask me anything about it. Her wide eyes ask me nonetheless. My smile lies, "It was the best sandwich in the world".
As she gulps down her glass of milk and I empty my plate, she offers to clear the table. She does. And then I clear it. :)
I know what she is waiting for now. It's my favourite time before sleep too. I sink into my easychair and she jumps on my lap resting her head on my chest.
"Now show me again how Ma smiled when both of you held me for the first time in the hospital. Tell me again, don't I smile like her?", she asks.
I'm trying hard like every time to hold back those overwhelmed eyes of mine and look at her lovingly at the same time. It's a balance I'm horrible at striking. It is a lie, I'm trying to get better at.
I light my last cigarette. I have tried my best to avoid this dastardly habit of mine before her. I exhale. She screams, "It is winter. Just like how the smoke came out of your mouth the last time we went back to Jaipur".
I swear this is going to be my last cigarette ever. I lie again....
All things bright and Biprorshee