I looked up at the building, it was five stories high. Unusual but it was the same on my side of the town too. There had been a sharp rise in the temperature. Quite sharp. I could feel my toes getting icy inside my baby pink crocs and a wave of dubious nostalgia passed over me. I remember feeling like this a lifetime ago but there was no vivid memory of anything like it.
I decided to take the staircase. Foreign lifts made me suspicious of all the legends it was made up of. There were about eight or nine steps at a time. I knew because I was climbing up in my usual hurried manner, taking two at a time and feeling odd when the ninth one did not have a fellow.
I rang the bell. A lean woman opened the door. She was already smiling. Her hair was black with a very subtle curtain of brown, she was wearing a mediocre top-kurti and a pair of regular blue jeans. She had an old woman glint in her eyes but apart from that she resembled, and quite effectively executed, the merriment of a young woman of 30.
“Come, come. How are you, dear?”
“Hello aunty! I’m fine, thank you. How are —“
“Didn’t have any trouble finding the address, no?” I wanted to cringe.
“A little but the local rickshaw wallahs were incredibly helpful.”
She smiles. I go perch myself on the couch and look around. The apartment furnishing looks almost more than a decade old, there isn’t a soul around except the two of us and mother nature seems to have lost its voice leaving behind a trail of silence that seems to have dissolved itself in the natural aura of the house. I like it. I haven’t experienced this much silence since I moved to this city.
She gives me three warm idlis and a cup of tea and I gobble it all in a hurry. I am not very bothered about my impression here. She knew me when I was a kid so there really cannot be anything more embarrassing than that.
We begin talking about her daughter who is currently studying in Canada. I knew her when we were little. I remember her only from her Snapchat stories which make me feel farther away from her. I tried to message her once but the virtual rejection got the better of me and I never went back.
Aunty is still talking about her daughter, she keeps switching between me and her daughter with intervals of questions about my life. Her eyes light up when I begin to narrate an anecdote from the previous week. That’s when the purpose of the evening dawns on me: that it is not an obligation or a sense of camaraderie that made her invite me. The only guiding force was that of pure love; it still is. But this love is not meant for me. It is meant for that daughter of hers who used to be here but is not anymore. She is gone but I am here now, at the receiving end of a love that is not really meant for me, it isn’t mine to fondle, it is not mine to nurture – it’s mine only for the night. I take it.