I’ve been meaning to write a love story for a long time. But you know I’ve never been good with fiction. I’m cursed with an overactive imagination….and the pictures I paint inside my mind have too many colors to make any sense. Too many blotches and splashes and dots and swirls in intricate patterns all over…. But I still want to write a love story.
And not just any love story. I want to write just one of those love stories, the kind that make you think. So my heroine could be a twenty-something vibrant girl….preferably in her early twenties… who wears all sorts of weird clothes, and too much bling-bling. Who talks a little too much and thinks slightly too little. Or maybe just appears not to think at all. For all you know she could go back home, turn off the lights in her room, stand in front of her window with a lit smoke in her hand….and let it burn down right to her fingers without taking a puff…and all because she’s so deep in her thoughts. She could be this lost soul who goes through the rigorous process of hiding it from the rest of the world each damn day. And hence the flashy clothes. The outrageous swear words. The loud make up. They all just scream “LOST”. But I don’t know. Am just suggesting.
And there could be a forty-something writer. Yeah….he has to be a writer to be whimsical enough to be the hero of my story. The kind who listens to slow jazz while hustling pots and pans in his kitchen cooking up a gourmet meal for himself, all by his own… and then forgets to eat his dinner because he’s in the mood to write. He could be this idealistic guy who didn’t end up marrying simply because he was not motivated enough. No…. He’d rather live his life, weave it, mold it….coax it and cajole it to be the exact way he wants it to be, through whatever he writes. Specially when it came to the woman in his life. So someday he’d wake up wanting to be with a woman who’s the perfect doting housewife…..who’d drop the whole world at his feet on his one word….. and the very next day he’d yearn for a woman who’d make him feel like the lowliest creature on earth, with him pining and begging for his cold-hearted ice-queen beauty of a wife to simply acknowledge his existence. And live each day with the woman of his dreams he would, and remain happy with it. Or maybe we could make him the emotion-less sort. Who’s never known anything but indifference. Either this way or that. Who’s not used to conversation because way back in time when he’d been in company of other people they’d told him that they were discomforted by his blatant blunt comments and total lack of emotion. Well you get the idea… our hero is this dreamy guy who’s as removed from reality as possible.
So where could I make them meet? He hardly steps out of his house unless it is to buy stuff from the department store right next door. Even his editor (yeah, what do you think? He IS a famous writer…..but typically disconnected that he is, he doesn’t even use his own name….and me thinks he is filthy rich, except that only his bank manager has any idea about how rich he really is)… So yeah, even his editor remains in touch with him (push him to write and write, more like…he needs to be reminded of deadlines like a million times a day) through the internet. Our pathetic hero is plugged into the wall the whole day, while our butterfly of a heroine hardly steps into her house unless it is to sleep at night. Or lament the lack thereof. I want to make her an insomniac….who’s never known good sleep for a long time.
But coming back to the point… where do they meet? It has to be the department store….and maybe it’s a rainy day. The grey dull cold and irritatingly wet sort of a day, and my hero is especially sulky. He hates having to write during rainy days, and not being able to put down a single word on the screen that day he decides to cook an exceptionally grandiose lunch, and so finally decides to drag himself out of his chair to the go to the department store. And by sheer co-incidence (I have to make use of this bugger….or else how would I even make a story out of this?) my heroine chooses that very moment and that very department store to buy cigarettes from, since she’s run out of them. Or maybe all her cigarettes are soaked wet, just like she is, right down to her skin….and she needs one desperately. So, how do I make my absent-minded lost-in-his-own-world of a writer take notice of her? Maybe, the moment our writer comes up with a word he’d been groping for inside his head all day long, it slips out and that’s only because our heroine chooses that very moment to scream out loud one of the most delectable swear words in the English vocabulary, (one which you will never find in any dictionary though). But why, you may ask, would she do that? Her cigarette won’t light, poor girl… her matchbox is sopping wet too. And that makes the writer take a look at what obnoxious creature would have the audacity to do that. Disconcert him, that is, and break his train of thoughts. So what is the first thing he notices? I think its her long long hair…. (Wait, did you simply presume that she’s had her hair chopped off and looks like an imp?) Except that when he looks at her that’s the only thing he can see; a wet curly veil over her back, reaching way past the hem of her tank top. And just a few inches of the excuse of a denim skirt that she’s wearing beneath it. He hardly notices her long bare legs but he is intrigued by the anklet she’s wearing… a glittering something with what looked like dolphins dangling from a silver band. He is interested yes, so much that the second expletive doesn’t even reach his ears this time. Oh, but the ugly heels… he looks away. Not for long though, and by the time he takes a second look she’s turned around with her head still bent over her unlit cigarette. With the same curls now falling all over her face. He doesn’t realize he’s gaping until she looks up….and the first thing he notices is her eye make-up trickling down her cheeks from the rain. And the smoke between her lips. And there’s this one moment (there always is one, isn’t there?) when their eyes meet….but the moment is lost when they both hear the door of the department store open again, and a woman with a toddler in tow comes inside. She throws away the cigarette and bends down to smile at the kid, who shirks away from this abominable eyesore of a girl with black smudges all over her face. And then without even looking at our still gaping writer she walks away, but not before he catches the wistful look in her eyes, one that almost bordered on pain. With the tinkling of her bracelets and hip chain and dangly earrings ringing in his ears and her smell, a heady mixture of musk and rain, still in his nose, he goes back, even more frustrated since he knows now he’ll never be able to finish the piece his editor had been yelling about since morning. Oh no. He’s not in love. Not yet. And she’s already out of her mind by the time he opens the door to his place. But damn it, the word’s slipped out again. And now he’ll be stuck in that exact same sentence yet again for god only knows how many hours.
And what about her? She walks out without a smoke and with just a fleeting thought about this way too pale brown-eyed guy who looked like he’d never seen the sun, leave alone a woman of blood and flesh. But she’s used to this gaping by now. Hell, she demands it. And as she walks slowly in the rain with people around her scurrying under umbrellas trying to find some dry place she only wonders how his voice would be. Maybe it’s a mere whisper, kind of like his wispy hair. Can voice be wispy? She laughs out loud.
So much for the first time they see each other. But love is a different ball game altogether. So how do I count on just a chance meeting for them to fall in love, nothing less? Another chance meeting? I could bring in a series of co-incidences but then my story wouldn’t be any different from them Bollywood movies. No… my writer is above all that, and my heroine is no ordinary dumb-head beauty either. So maybe that evening when he’s almost out of his mind trying to put down one word, just one word on screen for more than five seconds before deleting it again, he paces up and down the room with long strides, with the screen of his laptop turned away from him. Like he always does when he is angry with his laptop, when it turns traitor. And he happens to see the counter of the departmental store through his window pane. Just where he’d seen her earlier in the morning. And everything comes back to him, just like that. Her curly messy wet hair, her anklet, her mascara streaked cheeks, and that pain in her eyes…. And that’s exactly when the words flow to him, and he rushes to his laptop, the rich dainty heroine he had been writing about unceremoniously dumped into the recycle bin, and he starts afresh. Typing like a possessed man, late into the night and early morning. Each time he’d get stuck he’d walk to the window again, and even in the darkness of the store he would see her….and then go back and type again. But he’s still not in love with her… he’s just obsessed with the woman he’s made of her in his story…because she makes him write. Big deal, you say? Then you don’t know what writers’ block is.
And so he finds himself writing about her even the next day, and the day after that. And the third day when he visits the departmental store he almost wishes she were there. He realizes he didn’t even notice the color of her skin the last time, and how deep set her eyes were beneath all that watery make-up. He needed to know, he muses. That, and so many other things… How else would he write about her? He’d exhausted all his imagination in fabricating her past and her present in his story… but to write about what is going to happen? That’s dangerous. Especially when he knows that she is after all a real person. He is disturbed… He’s seldom written about a real woman before. And never about one woman for this long. That too a woman he’s seen just for a few minutes. When the going gets tough the tough has to get going, he realizes. So he decides to do what he’d never done before… he steps out the departmental store and walks away from his house. Without even knowing where he would find her. And after half an hour of aimlessly wandering about, just when he’s about to give up on the nonsense he’d allowed himself just this once he sees her. She’s walking too and today she’s wearing dungarees which reach mid-calf. As he sneaks closer he can hear her red sneakers squeak with each step, and her arms swing by her side like they have a mind of their own. He follows her, every instinct of his screaming “This is crazy….” but he can’t seem to stop. Until she does. To untangle the bracelet that got caught in one of her curls. Another expletive, and he is repelled. Reminded of this one fact he’d conveniently erased from his memory of the first meeting with her. But before he can do anything he’s looking into her eyes again.
“And why would you follow me around if you can always stop me and say hello?” is what she says through the gum she’s chewing, quite noisily too.
He is stumped, and groping for an answer.
“Oh god, not one of them again…” she rolls her eyes and holds out her hand, “Hello. There you go. This is how we do it these days. In case you didn’t know.”
He takes her hand without smiling, and she looks at him all the more incredulously.
“Are you for real? You don’t say anything when I say hello?”
“Hello” is all he manages, and the first thing she notices is his voice. Deep, throaty, and extremely satisfying to the ears. She lets out a giggle. Kind of ruins the whole smoky-eyed, red-lip gloss, black nail polish effect, but works just as well. He is confused.
“You’re funny” she says. “You don’t say anything and you’re still funny”
He looks even more confused, and decides to walk away. He’s already gone too far. He’s made himself known to her. Even as he turns around she calls back.
“I have a name you know. And I live a block away. Just in case you decide to stalk me again and then walk away leaving my ego unfed”
But unlike in the movies when the heroine says a killer line and the hero stops in his tracks my hero walks away. And so does my heroine, as if it is everyday she encounters a man twice her age, who follows her and then doesn’t ask her name even when she offers it.
So my writer goes back home disoriented and disconnected, unable to believe what happened had actually taken place. The moment he steps inside the door, he puts on Miles Davis “It Never Entered My Mind” (my all time favorite, and has to be his… it is my story after all) on repeat, slumps on his chair and turns on his laptop. Takes a deep breath and tries to compose himself. And inspite of himself, it doesn’t take long for the words to flow…. He’s heard her voice, he’s looked into her jet-black eyes, and he’s held her hand. And now he’s consumed with writing about her….his fingers fly on the keypad like they have a mind on their own, And for the first time in a long time… he feels alive. And more than anything, he feels he’s given life to this woman in his story. He realizes all it takes is for him to meet her once, and he has so much to write about her…
And this goes on for the next couple of days. The editor goes crazy trying to make my writer finish this story on time to be published in one of those monthly magazines which feature one of his stories every month. And that’s when he drops the bomb…. He’s not writing a story this time. This will be his first novel, he types in. For the first time he’s found something which captivates him long enough to actually write for almost a week… and he thinks he could remain captivated for longer. And not waiting to see what the editor has to reply to that, he signs out, leaving the editor high and dry gaping open-mouthed at the screen. But so much as he has known about her from the second part-chance, part-planned meeting with her, he still hasn’t got enough to write hundreds of pages that takes to make a novel. And from the outlook of my story he isn’t anywhere closer to falling in love with her. He is interested, he definitely is, but love? To fall in love they have to meet, and for him to meet her, he has to go out again. And so he does.
But I can’t make it this easy for him can I? It can’t be that he meets her each time he goes out. It doesn’t happen like this in real life and neither will this happen in my story. And so he doesn’t meet her inspite of making two rounds of her block. Maybe that’s when he comes back and realizes just how much he’d been depending on meeting her, and when he finds himself unable to write after coming back, even after he’s cooked an elaborate three-course meal which then remains cold on the dining table because he’s sworn he’ll eat only after he’s finished one paragraph, he starts thinking real hard about how the hell he’s got himself into this mess. For a minute he even contemplates restoring the discarded heroine to her rightful place in that short story… but he’s given too much of himself to this novel to give up now. And just this once, he’s woken up every morning with her thought in his mind. Maybe he’s so much into her because he’s been writing about her…. Or maybe he’s writing about her because he’s into her. Damn…! He gives up.
And in the meanwhile, I haven’t talked a lot about my heroine, have I? Picking up from where she meets him and then goes away….. So she doesn’t even know his name. But his voice… She finds herself thinking of his voice when she least expects it. The poor man looked so lost. Wife left him for good, probably, she muses. Or maybe she’s dead and he can’t get over her. But boy is she reminded of that Dido song “See the Sun”. She is tempted to actually go open his blinds like Dido sings she wants to in that song. Looks like he needs it… But as she walks around she has too much in her mind to think of him more than just that. Aah… so baby boy with “trying-hard-to-regain-shape” Mom has finally learnt how to take three steps without falling on his tiny little bum. And well, old man with awfully thick glasses really needs to start reading the paper right side up. That anorexic teenager with curls all over her face, which would actually look better with chubbier cheeks is now walking around with a different guy from last week, and she’s yelling at someone over the phone… maybe her ex. And sigh..the way the man she’d met on the street had said “Hullo”. And that’s where she’d get stuck for a little while, and take a chance and look behind her, just in case.
But when she goes back home that night and is tossing and turning in her bed like always, willing her eyes to close and remain closed and gives up, she tries doing what always makes her feel tired and sometimes eventually sleepy. She imagines taking one of her long long walks around the street, and she thinks of every detail that she comes across…. The pattern of the curtains in that old restaurant that once upon a time was THE place to hang out. The exact shade of blue of the swanky new car that is always parked right outside it. The number of buds in that hanging plant right outside the dry-cleaner’s window. And how many have opened to bear thick petals of that blood red flower. She turns on her side, and thinks how far it is before she reaches her home inside her head. And that’s when she “reaches” the department store… now what color were those venetian blinds… pale pink? Or was it yellow…. Funny how she can’t remember… but it was raining that day wasn’t it? And… well, that was the day she’d seen that brown-eyed guy for the first time. And her “too-good-for-her” boyfriend for the last time. She opens her eyes. No. She won’t think about her ex. She closes her eyes again, and thinks of that store. How many aisles were there…? And what was the brown-eyed guy wearing? Were those flannel drawstring pajamas for real…? Or was she just exaggerating his worn-down appearance in her imagination? She sighs… She’s no way closer to falling asleep. She’ll go back to the store again, she decides. Maybe she’ll meet that funny guy again… maybe he’ll say more than a hullo. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll ask him why he was following her around. And when she asks herself just why she wants to see him again, all she can come up with is maybe she’s never heard a voice like his before. Now, I know that is not reason enough to just want to see some strange guy, but it’s a story right? I can make anything out of it.
So this time it is my heroine who sets out to meet him, if only for the sake of quenching her curiosity. Yes, the blinds are a pale pink, she notes. And there are four aisles. But he’s not anywhere around. The funny brown-eyed guy. So she does what comes naturally to her. Ask the guy sitting behind the counter. Does he remember the day she had come to the store? The salesman takes one look at the bright red hot pants and white spaghetti top, and her hair. Yes, he nods. Very well. And also that she uses the English language very liberally, he adds. Another expletive from that cherry-pink lip-glossed mouth. Like this you mean, my heroine says. He shrugs. But then does he remember there was another guy in the store that day, she asks. If he was interested in her long legs all this while he is no longer staring at them. He wants to make sure she is asking about the freak from next door. Weird guy who doesn’t ever talk, not even to discuss last night’s match or the weather that day, he adds. She doesn’t wait to reply. Just blows him a flying kiss as an afterthought when she reaches for the handle of the door and rushes out.
She doesn’t stop to think when she opens the gate of the house right next to the store. The rusted gates creak in protest, like they don’t want to open, but are doing a favor for her. But when she stands in front of the door, with her hand posed over the doorbell reason floods in. “This is crazy” she thinks, and turns away, only to turn back the next instant to press the doorbell. Almost simultaneously she hears glass breaking inside. She wonders again if she should let herself in, or just run away to sanity. But my heroine wouldn’t be my heroine if she chooses the easy way out, would she? No.. She waits slightly longer and then tries the door, feeling the door knob move on its own. He opens it for her, and the first thing she sees is the piece of broken glass he’s still holding in his hand, and then the look of disgust on his face.
“You didn’t ask my name that day” she says matter-of-fact.
“Sophie” he says, walking inside the house leaving her at the doorstep.
“Oooh… you’ve given me a new name, is it? Tell me, do I come to your dreams as well…?” she follows him inside without waiting for him to ask her in. He doesn’t reply, but bends down to pick up the shreds of broken glass from the floor.
“That must have been a nice beer mug” she remarks, “But you don’t look like the sort who has beer. You’re more scotch than anyone I know. Except maybe my Dad. But then, you know what too much of anything does to you. Too much of scotch for my old man. Add to it a weak heart. Gone for two years now, he is”
He doesn’t even look at her, but his hand freezes over the last piece of glass. He’s torn between wanting to ask her to leave that instant, and asking her to not leave till he finishes writing about her. She talks too much, lets too much of herself out without him asking her to. She’s actually entered his house, which nobody’s ever done before. And she’s made him break his favorite mug, when she shocked him with the door bell. But then he’s not written a single paragraph for the last few days, and he knows he’ll go crazy (crazier, he corrects himself) if he doesn’t write today.
He looks up to see she’s already seated herself, quite comfortably too. And then realizes all the while she’d been yakking away without even him getting to hear what she was saying. So that should work fine, he decides. She could talk all she wants with him totally phasing her out. As long as she just stays there. Talking her into staying a few hours with him each day doesn’t appear to be a problem, except that the woman of too many words that she is, she needs to be talked to. Which, as you might have guessed by now, is a problem for my sloppy-conversationalist of a writer. More of a problem because in order to be talked to, she needs to stop talking herself. Which, as you might have guessed again, she simply doesn’t.
But they do end up having a conversation after all. I think all it takes is for him to look into her eyes and just say something like “Enough for now” and she stops mid sentence. Just like that. It’s his voice again, that makes her do it. And choosing his limited words very carefully he tells her what he wants from her. And strangely enough, she understands. Like posing for a portrait, she says, only that he’s writing about her and not painting her. He nods. But what’s in it for her, she asks. She can talk all she wants to, feel free by letting it all out, and yet with him not even listening to what she’s saying, he explains, matter-of-fact. You know how sometimes it’s just about hearing yourself say things out loud without feeling you are losing it? I think it’s like that for her as well, and that is the first time someone actually speaks out those very words to her. She agrees without a second thought. Impulsive young girl, my heroine is.
And so they start spending time with each other. Correction, they don’t spend time with each other. They simply spend time in the same place. Not the same thing. At least for the first few days. It takes a little time for her to get adjusted to the routine. Coming every morning to find warm breakfast ready on the table for her, but no morning greeting from him. Not even the perfunctory “Hi”. Trying to strike up a conversation with him only to be snubbed each time. Getting angry and irritated and bored alternately, and finally giving up on trying to understand just why he wanted her around to write about her when he wouldn’t even ask her about herself. Talking to herself, sometimes venturing on making teasing and abusive comments about him in an attempt to attract his attention but giving up on that too. He’d meant it when he’d said he wouldn’t listen. And then watching him cook with immaculate perfection. Waiting for lunch, which in itself would always be manna from heaven for her chicken-burger and cola fed tummy. And then those bits of conversation between food that he would allow. I don’t think they talk about why on earth she’s got no classes to attend, or an office to go to, or why she’s been in so many relationships but never in love. Neither do they talk about why he never got married, or why he has nobody to call his friend, and why he hates swear words more than anything else. They don’t talk about the modicum of sanity in two absolute strangers spending hours with each other everyday just so that one could write about the other, and neither do they talk about how they both have got used to being with each other. I don’t think they need to talk about fundamentals like we do. I think they are above all that and when they talk, or maybe it’ll be more correct to say when she does, it is about nothing and everything. With him squeezing in a few words now and then between her constant flow of words. And so he gets to know about how she challenged a Prof in her first day in college but never about why she left college midway; about how once her hair got caught in barbed wire while trying to jump a fence but never about why she doesn’t tie it ever or cut it and about how one of her exes broke her mirror once to stop her from putting on make-up but never about why she doesn’t let anyone see her without wearing any make-up. You know, small things which tell you much more about a person than explicitly putting into words why she is the way she is.
I think I am getting the hang of this finally, this whole “writing a love story” thing. And I also think it’s high time I come to the whole point of it. The bit where they actually fall in love. You know, I think they don’t all of a sudden realize they are in love…. They are already deep into it before they even realize. And in spite of him being the one obsessed with her in the beginning, it’s her who falls in love with him. Or at least admits it in front of him. But as to how they get to that… well…
I think there are days when she doesn’t say a single thing. Days when she simply lies down on the couch clutching her knees close to her, and goes off to sleep, just like that. Afterall, her insomnia stems from her not being able to shut her mind off, and with him around, she doesn’t even need to. She simply blurts it all out. Until there’s nothing left. Then again, there are her bad mood days as well. Days when he lets her in and takes one look at her and gets to know that it is going to be one of those days when he’ll have to put on those weird drum solos that she is fond of; the ones that make his head ache in just about five minutes. And those are days when she would ignore breakfast on the table and instead fiddle in the kitchen herself and take fifteen minutes to fix herself a stiff cup of coffee. Too much to drink last night? He’d venture. She’d not even think his remark worthy of a reply. And then he’d chuckle to himself while typing out, taking a look at her from time to time. Drink, but not like an alcoholic, he’d mutter after a while, and she’d mumble something about even her Dad not saying things like this to her, and light a smoke, knowing very well it irritates him more than even her swear words. Kids these days, he’d grumble and open the window with a bang, knowing well it gets to her, the loud bang and more so, the comment. And if she’s exceptionally pissed off she’d walk out that day not to come back until next morning.
So it is such a day, when he is also exceptionally sulky because he realizes that he would have to wrap up his novel sometime in the near future, and he can’t seem to think of a fitting end to it. And worse still, for the first time he’s thinking of what is going to happen once he finishes this novel. And he wonders how he let this happen…. his routine has gone haywire, and life like he’s always known it to be has totally turned upside down. He hasn’t chatted with his editor for ages, and he has no idea if the magazine he’d been writing for has already found a replacement for him. The more he thinks of it the more he doesn’t like the feel of it. And so just to distract himself from all this he is exceptionally rude to her. But even his usual comments don’t elicit the usual bitter responses. He simply can’t extract a single word from her try as he might. And weird though it is even to him, he is worried for her. He is restless, and he’s typing the same words again and again, while all she does is stare outside the window, through the frosted glass pane, twirling the curtain with her fingers, her silver bracelet making soft tinkling noises each time it touches the window, almost like a rhythm. He finally gets up from his seat and walks up to her, brows furrowed in agony at feeling unwillingly and helplessly concerned about this brat who wouldn’t let him be himself in peace. But before he can move in closer he stops himself. This wouldn’t do. He walks back to this seat and keeps staring at the screen for a long while, till his eyes start watering and the words blur in front of him. And it isn’t until much later when he looks up that he realizes she’s standing in front of him. Except that she’s washed all of her make-up and has tied her hair up in a careless bun which hangs precariously on the verge of getting loose on her nape. And she’s fuming.
“Look at me. Look at me good. I am no heroine from some mysterious novel you wouldn’t even let me read. I am just another girl. But you wouldn’t write about me had I been me, would you? No. You would look right through me in the street even if I saw you walk by. You wouldn’t listen to me even if I were dying to tell you about so many things. No. You would ignore me over dinner, over lunch and even if I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare crying my heart out. You would want me to be someone else all the time. And you would hate me so much you wouldn’t even want to see my face. Specially not those bruises you would give to me when you’re drunk and wouldn’t believe me when I tell you next morning when that you were the one to give me those last night.”
She doesn’t make much sense to him, but he listens alright. She’s not done though.
“But you…. You listen to me and yet you don’t, do you? You just write about me. Like that helps any. I stay with you all the time, but no. You don’t want my company. I’m.. I’m just another thing in your spotless routine… something like that stupid desk without which you can’t write. Or that stupid jazz you keep listening to without which you can’t cook. You.. You are just some stupid machine which runs on a fixed code day in day out. You’re not human enough to ask me what’s wrong when you know I am aching and breaking. No. You want to, but you don’t want to. You walk to me and then you walk away. You’re scared I’ll make you human. You’re scared I’ll make you feel, because emotions are unpredictable, and you thrive on predictability. You’re rude, you’re old, you’re so helpless without your stupid routine.… You make me sick with your perfect existence. You center your world around me and yet you don’t acknowledge my existence outside that stupid novel of yours. And I will never forgive you for making me fall in love with you.”
He reaches out for her inspite of himself but she pulls away. He thinks she’s about to cry but he knows she won’t. And something inside him snaps. I think it is her vulnerability that makes him want to reach out to her. She’s so soft and so young, poor girl. And suddenly he realizes he’s crying himself. But she’s too proud to do anything but walk out on him. With him sobbing like a man who’s lost everything. And just when she reaches the door she stops and looks back.
“For the record, I don’t drink. Never drank a drop in my life. And I won’t too. I think my Dad drank enough to last both of our lives. His and mine.”
And with this killer line she walks out.
So. There you go. I’ve reached the what you call, climax , of the story. After this it would start sounding like more of a dragged epilogue. I could leave it right here. And put an end to all of it. She walks out, but she doesn’t come back the next morning. And the next, and even the next. Maybe she doesn’t come back at all. She’s too proud to hear what he has to say after she’s bared her heart out in front of him. She doesn’t want him to patronize her. And he stops writing from that day onwards. Till one day he gets drunk, (one of the rare times he does) and writes a fitting end to his novel. The hero kills himself in his story and his precious heroine loses her mind and walks around the street like a lost soul all day long. And having finished the last line he slumps on top of his laptop, all drained.
But I don’t like sad endings. And my story, of all stories will definitely not have a sad ending. I think it would be unfair to use tragedy to tug at my reader’s heart-strings. And so yeah, she does walk out. And yeah, she doesn’t come back for a couple of weeks, in which time he goes out to find her every single day, sometimes twice a day. Ends up asking the bewildered salesman in the department store if she’s come by, and actually starting up something in the lines of a conversation with him. And so he’s given up all hope and given away the manuscript of the novel to his editor who can’t believe his lucky stars this old funny man has really come up with something so brilliant, and yet doesn’t want to have anything to do with it anymore. But then she does come back. And this time when she comes in the first thing he notices is the tangled mop of short curls on her head, tamed with a satin ribbon. She’s wearing a bibbed skirt that makes her look eighteen. Fifteen, he decides. And there is not an ounce of make-up on her flushed face.
“Could we do it all over again? You could write a whole different novel, and I could help you make a whole new story out of me you know. And if the salesman next door is any bit right about you having finally learnt the art of carrying on a conversation, this time around we could talk.”
He steps aside without saying anything and she steps inside. And in his mind he is already composing the mail he’s about to send to his editor, asking him to return the manuscript since he wants to modify the ending. Sad endings don’t work always.
And with this I would end my story. Except that this was just me trying to figure out things inside my head before I actually start writing a story. On second thoughts though, I have almost given up on it. The story has a clichéd ending, just like those Bollywood movies where everything finally ends well and everybody is happy-happy, and you leave the cinema-hall having restored your faith in love after all. And I hate clichés, but neither can I think of a different ending that will leave me happy. So maybe I won’t write it after all. The love story I mean. You see, I am no good with fiction.