April 23, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Short Story: Fifty-Nine Times but One by Aditya Gautam

3 min read

Now we’re walking on this empty street and you tell me how we’re very much the same, how much our thoughts and choices match.

‘It has been just a month since I met you,’ you say, ‘and already I feel like I’ve known you for years.’

You said that on this same night five years ago and I laughed out loud then. I told you what a cheesy sentimentalist you are.

You looked straight into my eyes and said quietly, ‘You feel like home.’

Maybe that was the moment you sealed our fates together; I put a stamp on that seal when I kissed you in the next moment. Now I just nod and tell you that I feel the same way. I wish you would not say such things tonight. It will make what I am going to do so much more difficult.

This is one of the rare times when I have come back into a reality I have already been to, except for a few details of course; no two realities can ever be exactly the same. In a way, I am happy to be here – this is the reality, or dimension, whatever you may call it, where we first met.

I turn around once to look back at the softly lit café we have come from. You were eating tiramisu and I was sitting with a glass of wine in my hand. I sipped between your pauses and watched you, trying to learn every single line and every single movement of your face. The way you pick the tiniest morsels in every spoon so that it will last longer, the way you keep the cake in your mouth a moment longer than anyone else I know, so that the taste may fade away slower.

I replied without thought, almost mechanically: it is the same conversation we had five years ago, at the same table.

You have long, brown hair in this reality and I am still not used to it. Where I was up until a month ago, you had blue spiky hair and I had nicknamed you Pixie. That was a good month. At least until the last day when we were in your apartment and the curtains caught fire.

My guts clench as I remember the last words you always say to me: ‘Until the next time, my love.’

Why do you always say that? It isn’t as if you know how true it is…

There is only one street lamp on this stretch of the road and the shadows of trees look like cobwebs around our feet. In one of the houses by the roadside somebody is playing an old song by Kishor Kumar.

Mere mehboob qayamat hogi, aaj ruswa teri galiyon mein mohabbat hogi…

My darling, there will be apocalypse today, love will be disgraced in your street

You pick up the tune and begin to hum. Everything fits together, eventually.

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