The Book of Love

By Ekarat

Click here to buy The Book of Love

From ‘The Date’

Love, you ask?

Humbug, humbug. Who needs love when you’ve got everything else?

It’s Friday night. Half past twelve. It’s not party night. My doorbell rings. I am asleep, at peace, after having written a bit and drunk a bit. The doorbell rings again. Then the third time. I awaken a little, and leaving a part of me still lying in bed I go to open the door.

There stands a girl. A girl I had never seen or welcomed before into my house. She’s drunk, nervous, bespectacled and quite pretty with a short crop.

She looks at me. I at her. We’re both at a loss. Who’s she, I ask myself.

‘Who’re…you?’ she asks.

I’m befuddled for sure. ‘I’m sorry. Who are you? This is my house.’

‘Oh…I’m sorry. That’s great…’ she says, looking over my shoulder into my pad. ‘But who are you?’ she asks, not with defiance, but in utter confusion.

Then she reads the copy on my T-shirt: I’m a writer. Non-practicing. Moody.

‘You’re a writer?’ she asks, still standing merry outside my door.

I do not know whether I should let this girl in without further enquiry. ‘Yes,’ I answer.

‘You don’t write any more?’ she asks.

‘That’s right.’

‘And you’re prone to severe mood swings?’

‘No! That’s just a line from the TV series Californication.’

‘Oh, how boring!’

I laugh. Unless she was a killer, this girl did not scare me.

‘Hi, I’m Ajay…’ I say, holding out my hand. ‘Would you like to come in?’

‘I’m Priya…sure, thanks…though you’ll have to bring your friend up too. He’s fallen at the gate.’

I laugh out loud. As I gather over the next few minutes, Priya was the Tinder date of my friend, who, in order to prolong the evening, had convinced her to come for a party to my place.

‘There’s no party?’ Priya asks.

‘Not tonight!’

‘Oh…how boring!’

I laugh. ‘I’ll get you a drink though,’ I say, ushering her to the terrace. ‘Let me get my friend first.’

With an arm around him, I bring my friend up to my pad. He’s not in a good place this evening. ‘Tequila shots,’ he says by way of explanation.

‘How many?’ I ask.

‘Many, many,’ Priya chips in.

‘You too?’ I ask her.

‘Yes, many, many…’ she laughs.

‘I’m impressed,’ I tell her, as my friend makes his way to the loo.

‘I’m a gold medallist, through and through… school, law college and postgraduation. I qualified to be a judge at the age of twenty-five and last month, I got a fellowship to Berkeley….does that impress you, Mister writer?’ she says, turning away.

‘Nah! I flunked in school, class six that too, then college again. Never been great at sports, never won a medal in my life. Took five years to write a novel that sold less than 1000 copies. So yeah, you’re no big shit! Now, let’s find out if you can hold your drink,’ I say with a laugh.

I get a drink for Priya and myself, and we make our way to the terrace. The moon is out. A single star hangs over dirty Delhi. We both look up at the sky. ‘No stars,’ she remarks.
‘There’s one…’ I point out.

‘That’s a satellite…’ she corrects me.

My friend joins us now. He doesn’t look well. I want to tell him to go inside and sleep for a bit, but given that his date is here, who doesn’t know me well, it seems inappropriate. We sit around shooting the breeze. Bruce Springsteen plays on the stereo inside. The three-way conversation is going nowhere.

After five minutes, my friend looks at Priya with intent, then skywards at the lonely satellite, and then gets up and walks inside. A minute passes. Then another…we wait.
‘Where did he go? Did I offend him?’ Priya asks.

I go inside to check on my friend.

‘He’s gone!’ I tell her.

Priya throws her head back and laughs out loud.

‘Seriously!’ I tell her.

‘Man…I love Tinder,’ she says with a sip of beer. ‘I get dumped by my date and am left sitting on a terrace with a stranger, who might be a psycho… are you a psycho? Please tell me…I’ve seen some of those movies…I can scream quite well like those girls.’

‘Maybe I am,’ I say with dead seriousness. ‘You look like my mother…’

She screams. She really does. Loud. Clear. Crisp. Her voice rings through the night.

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