She became all that was good in my life.
It is her scent that would never leave me; that generous blend of roses, spices, and hair unwashed for days.
I remember the first time I walked into her dimly lit apartment.
It was our first meeting after a flurry of online messages yet, she welcomed me with a smile.
You never know when magic is lurking around the corner of your otherwise dull life.
One minute you’re waddling your way through your drab, anodyne existence and the next you are catapulted into a whirlwind of lights, sounds, and everything nice.
Her curtains were drawn so that a golden beam of sunlight filtered into the room.
Dust motes danced about in the light, kissing my freckled face briefly as I walked to her bed.
She had placed a smaller mattress atop a larger one, and her sheets were not large enough to cover both beds through and through.
But, “I am comfortable here”, were the first words that I spoke as I lay on the mattresses, facing her.
Thinking about it now, she was a thing of ephemeral beauty, and the first chords of our love were nothing too fancy, nothing too elaborate. It was eh genuine, yes, that’s the word.
As I looked up at her, lying with my back to the bed, I thought about how bulbous her nose was, and I got hard when I noticed her thighs show generously from her pink, revealing gown.
So I crossed one of my legs over the other.
She sat across from me, on a small student’s desk and chair, looking directly at me with her small beady eyes, her slightly parted legs showed a clear path to…
I crossed my legs, harder.
“Why are you smiling?”, I asked.
“Nothing”, she said, “I smile a lot.”
She started to shake her legs, not an attempt to seduce me but a nervous reaction, yet I could only look away as I swallowed my own spit, longing.
She looked at me intently, with a polite curiosity.
“Nihin”, I said after a few seconds, “Come closer now?”
“Why?”, She asked with a wider smile, revealing a perfect set of teeth.
“I want to whisper something in your ears.”
Our romance began that day, in that dimly lit apartment.
I would appear late in the night, my school bag slung behind me and with a bag of goodies in my hand.
She would embrace me excitedly, kiss me, before she would fill me in about her day.
It was always annoying to wait for her to finish yapping before I got a chance to tear at her clothes. But it was always worth the wait.
We got to love Abba’s Knowing me knowing you, and we would play it loudly on her speakers, ignoring the concern of “jealous” neighbours.
The best part was singing along and dancing for her, wriggling my bum in her face and watching her squirm when I did a mock strip dance.
She brought this peace and tranquillity to my life, I was living a dream.
She was with me when I got the news about my father. She sat with me, in the chairs opposite my course advisor. I recall the pile of books which hid his bloated face from view, and how his fat hands snaked to mine with a letter from home.
She embraced me when I cried, and then as my beetle-browed course advisor was saying something insensitive about how the news must not affect my grades, we would be fine, was what her eyes said to me.
That night, while Abba’s Knowing me, knowing you played on repeat, she guided me into her, our fingers clenching into a fist, her legs firmly around me.
And when my release came, and with her lustrous, smelly hair all up in my face, I squeezed her fingers.
It is indeed spectacular how one woman became my world, without ever trying to be just that.
But all of my claim to her heart is bullshit since I was not there that day, when she needed me most.
And now there are perpetual voices in my head, singing soulful arias of pain.
You should have been there, is what I keep hearing, there beside her as the doctor poked about in her womb.
Today, I recall all the two Valentine’s days we ever shared. I recall that because I was broke the second time, Valentine’s was celebrated in the glare of a tallow candle, over a plate of pepper soup, and drowned out with a bottle of very cheap wine.
I know that she laughed as we ate, and my being there with her meant everything to her, more than my measly attempt at a celebration.
In retrospect, I know that I never appreciated her as well as she ought to have been appreciated.
You should have been there.
Dammit, I know.
I imagine the smell of death, and of piss, and of stale blood greeting her as she held our lifeless creation in her hands.
I imagine that all the tears she cried were not for everything she had lost in the process but for the fact that I was not there to share her pain.
I left her alone.
Two years later, she is living and she is happy, but I know, no, we know that all she has lost because of me, I can never give back.
Still, whenever I hear Abba’s Knowing me, knowing you, I turn the volume up, and I sing out loud,
“Knowing me knowing you is the best I can do..,” in the hope that someday, our fingers would find themselves again.