//  P A R T  I  //


June, 2017
He kissed her. But he couldn’t do it for long. It was a quick one on the lips. She stood like a slice of sunshine at the door. And in that moment, he wanted to burn out in it but he had to let it fade away. He stood there for a quarter of a minute but then he walked. He couldn’t feel the earth under him. It was like one of those moments when you wake up in a foreign land, in a hotel you just checked into last night, instead of your bedroom after having a dream in which you were sitting with a ghost talking about black grapes and red wine. He was confused, just like you are in that split second, where you try to make sense but fail and fail and give up until the second thuds in as a realization much like the loud roar of his friends to greet him. A thousand knives pricked, a hundred stabbed and a couple even twisted under his skin. He didn’t look back.

Illustrated by Harshi Lal.

It was the 4th day of April in the year 2016. It was a lazy Indian afternoon. That time of the year and that part of the world when and where winter and summer stuff inside one room, nullifying each other with so much strength that their struggle is almost palpable. A blazing sun was defensive against a raging wind. He was almost happy until his phone rang. It wasn’t unusual for a solider to receive these calls. The obvious had happened and the obvious was expected. A blast. Kashmir. No casualties. Danger. Report. Immediately. He spent the entire day in packing his clothes, mostly 5 sets of his uniforms but a couple of sweaters and jackets. Of course, even the soldiers feel cold. She wanted him to a carry little snacks for the journey but he refused. They spent the afternoon in fighting over the size of the jar, which would fit all that she wanted to keep and all that he didn’t want to take. And the evening, in kissing each other. The night was quiet. Only spoons and forks spoke. They had always been like this.
“Loud in their quarrel, louder in making love but quiet when they spoke.”
They had been married 3 years now. They had shifted to Chandigarh immediately. Theirs was no dreamy love story, but the kinds people use to run their business. So because they had met through a matrimonial website and turned out to be schoolmates. A couple of months of talking over coffee is all it takes these days. The parents hadn’t much to say. He was a soldier and she was taught in a primary school. He had to travel a lot and she could easily change her job. A match made in the heavens, or so they think or maybe just say. But they loved each other, truly. In the 3 years, he had received 17 such calls and when the 18th one came, though apparently nonchalant, she was worried, afraid, angry and all of it at once just like when the first one came. When the first call came a week after their marriage, he was talking to her late at night over the phone because they were in different parts of the same city and were going through those phases of life where you survive only when you are either with each other or one inside the other. The call dropped and his phone rang again. He, thinking it to be her, blabbered everything that a newly wed man tells his woman. But it was his commander. She had both laughed and cried over this till he came back. It took 9 hours from Chandigarh to Srinagar and a couple more to Pahalgam. He slept through most of it or rather he dreamt through most of it. Hazy memories of the afternoon coupled with cold thoughts of the evenings, which were to come. But they weren’t all so cold. He didn’t know it now. She didn’t either. The thing about love is that it lasts the whiles you want it to. It can travel a thousand miles afoot but sometimes it cannot walk up to the person sleeping beside you. Love.
Vindhya Gupta

Vindhya Gupta



With scribbles in the margins of her notebook to doodles on her bedroom walls, her flair for performance arts and a casual style of writing with striking punch lines being her forte, Vindhya Gupta is every artsy hipster Tumblr aesthetic personified. They say that with the touch of her pen and brilliance of her mind she creates pieces of art, we confirm that she is one herself.

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