It is a maddening November evening, and we decide to meet at your flat instead of Mr. C's. East Side Story is playing, and you are arranging your books. It's not the first time that I am sitting in your alcove but it feels new. Stomach is in knots, face flushed. Five minutes before it's time, we take that rickety lift upto the terrace.
There is noone up here, yet we whisper. It's something about that November night that has stayed on with me even though I have no memory of what you said to me that made me feel like a little girl who's lost her way home and is feverishly excited about it. You smelled of old agarbattis. Not today though. This evening you smell of you - left-handed letters burnt to ash, chocolate and new love.
I have short hair perhaps, or long; I don't quite remember but I watch the sun disappear and night time descend, and with someone who brings me chocolate, rather pilfers it from his own refrigerator and realize that this is possibly the most romantic thing a girl and a boy can do at sixteen. I share this with you, still whispering, and we giggle. Soon the giggles wear off and your arms envelope me. It is like a hug, but not quite. I'm sixteen and tiny and my head is on your shoulder and I change my mind: this is the most romantic thing a girl and a boy can do at sixteen!
We do this every Thursday: sneak up to the terrace to watch the sun die out, sometimes with chocolate, sometimes with none. Saturdays, I miss you. On a random weekday, chosen with much caution, we both lie to our parents and meet at new alipore, and sit on a random porch and watch cars go by. We don't talk, or hold hands; we just sit and watch. Blue is my favourite colour and I count blue cars but always lose track when I catch you staring at me.
One afternoon in December I chop my hair off in a fit of anger. My father is not very happy about this. Neither are you. I am reading The Mill on the Floss and realize Maggie Tulliver has done this too, and I really don't bother if I have angered you or Baba. I am like one of my favourite characters (or perhaps she becomes my favourite character because I am like her) and nothing else should matter. Later in the week, I tell you this over sunset and chocolate and you put your arms around me and snort. I'm upset at your belittling response about my revelation.
I realize I cannot chop my hair any shorter than this so I just smell you. You smell of agarbattis.