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May 2014
She'd swooshed by on her skates.
He'd seen her in her reflection that day
On his car’s rear view mirror,
For the first time ever.
The new neighbour, was she?

That very night, for the first time ever,
Both happened to be on their respective rooftops.
The clock had just scaled eleven.
Now that they’d seen each other,
Tonight's coincidence sufficed to make way
For a rendezvous every night, thereafter.

He’d often be smiling his sheepish smile,
Panting for breath as he’d reach the terrace
While the clock would strike eleven,
A few heartbeats later.
Oh, but she would often already be there,
A teasing laughter on her lips,
A childlike smile in her eyes.
Relief followed by exultation in his heart.

And so, they’d be standing a lane's length apart,
United under the zoetic starry sky, every night hence.

You’d wonder, how both were somehow convinced,
That the other still believed
This nightly tryst
Under the sky's roof to be a coincidence.

She'd light cigarette after another.
He'd pretend
To be caressing his pet,
Fast asleep.
Or some such silly thing.

How he’d wish the whiff of smoke from her cigarette
Would drift across to his terrace.
He’d imagine the wafting smoke
That’d emanate as she’d part her lips
To be a peek into her coy desires.
And many such cheesy things.

They hadn't exchanged a word till date.
Oh but they'd exchanged hearts that very first night.
She didn't even know his name yet
She'd wonder if he knew hers’?
'Has it ever mattered?' she'd think.
'I'm better off not knowing her name!'
Thinking a name could define her
Is to be silly', he’d think.

She was at his door one evening,
To hand over a letter,
Mistakenly delivered at her home.
Or so she said. Something he'd happily believed.
She'd slipped her heart along with the letter,
She later happily realized.

The ensuing night lingered
Six and a half cigarettes longer,
The first time ever.

Fifteen evenings gone by since
She wouldn’t be seen.
He stayed for a brief bit on the sixteenth night.
Disappointed less, worried more.
Did she feel this silent encounter
Of their worlds had stayed silent too long?
Words could never suffice, didn't she know?
He went down to his room ruefully.
Oh but she’d reached just the terrace at that instant.

And they thought coincidences could only always favor them.

A few evenings later he saw her.
Not veiled by the sepia-tinted street lights this time.
Nor in the crimson blush of that evening.
Decked in bridal finery
The vermilion vows on her forehead
Staring starkly at him like an exclamation mark.

And you thought coincidences could only always favor us,
Seemed to be the rhetoric she was throwing at him.

That night, his tattered heart
Writhed in dead wakefulness on the rooftop.
Even now, he looks across
At her absence, a presence in itself.
P.S - Two neighbours, who can't keep feeling that it's too soon to meet, to engage in the language of words, and dates. They're too happy, knowing they will see each other across the roof, every night, after the first coincident meet one night. This goes on for months, till she doesn't turn up for a few days, and the day she does muster up the courage to convey to him, that she would be married soon, is the day he turns up too, only to leave a tad bit early. A happy coincidence that they thought they continue turns tragic. Does he know she meant to tell? Does she still think, he'd forgotten her in that fifteen day span, so as to not up on the sixteenth? After all, they'd never exchanged words.
Shruti Chakraborty
Written by
Shruti Chakraborty  New Delhi
(New Delhi)   
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