He thinks she burst into his life – that way, it almost sounds as though he had no choice in the matter. Maybe he could say, she had him ever since she said Hello that sunny afternoon in his apartment where he played with his toy helicopter.
He liked that she was confident and not the least bit self-conscious. She spoke to him however often she wanted to, she barged into his room and did not blink even if he was wearing yesterday’s banian and track pants, she told him he had a compelling personality and he need not ever worry about being short, she investigated his balding head and stated his hair was only falling, not greying. He liked that she thought herself to be ordinary, and still she liked herself. He wondered why he felt the need to constantly better himself, as though to make up for something he was lacking – but she declared he was extraordinary.
He was surprised to find himself doing things he normally would not. He revealed to her how he did not like the solid and liquid components of his food touching each other in a plate. He mentioned his sommelier phase, and added how he was a whisky-neat kind of person now. He did not mind sharing his compulsive behaviour traits with her as well as his fondness for Maggi noodles – he knew she would laugh at him if she wanted to, but that would not hurt him.
He was secretly delighted when she decided to accompany him on his midnight walks, he usually thought of this as a communion with his Camel Crush Cigarettes. He would ask her to speak slower, and not tell her he enjoyed watching the words tumble out of her, especially the look of frustration that sometimes crossed her face when her mouth would not work as fast as her mind. He antagonized her with the purpose of hearing her talk – she could be counted on to have an opinion about everything ranging from the Kardashians to the RSS. He carried her piggyback when one of their walks took them on a particularly difficult upslope path.
He sighed in resignation when she restocked his kitchen and gave him his first bottle of cooking oil. He used to believe he loathed being taken care of, but he began doubting himself. He watched her repair a dal he made and he was mildly excited when she rescued it from the land of no recognition. He marks that lunch with her as one of the more memorable meals in his life. He allows her to watch movies with him, even though he prefers watching them alone. When she dozes off after the movie, he artfully arranges everyday objects around her and takes many photographs. He realises she may have become his muse, she seems to inspire him to sing and sketch. She does not see these pictures until after a year, he wants to guard himself, and she leaves him feeling strangely vulnerable.
He tries to recall when they started fighting. They were at once staggeringly different and obstinately similar. He marvelled at how carefree she was, never pausing to think what those around her thought of her, she took his hand if it pleased her to do so, yet he felt uncomfortable when she talked loudly in a restaurant. He was thrilled when she came running to him, her boundless energy elevating his mood, yet he looked for the composed adult in her. He was never satiated when the day ended and sleep overcame him – he wanted to spend an hour more, an afternoon more, a night more. He wished to argue with her and annoy her, he wished to make up and then cuddle, he wished to hold her fiercely and not have her leave.
He wonders when he started thinking of her as beautiful. Surely not in the beginning, even though he loved that laugh of hers – the one that threatened to engulf her and bubbled out of her long after she announced she was going to keep a sober face. Her laugh was as generous as her. He thinks of the time he saw her under the yellow streetlight – her torso stretched over a longer-than-necessary bone formation, ending in hips that betrayed her ancestry, her face that glowed in the moonlight when she was happy, her sharp nose that glistened sometimes and her eyes shaped liked fish, her graceful neck that should have reminded him of a flamingo, but instead reminded him of a mantis.
He remembers the day she lay on his chest, and asked him to sing to her. In that moment, she was the girl he adored, the woman he was in awe of, the mother he loved. The thing pricking his eyes refused to go away.