Grandma was Achilles. Running down office corridors with a bucketful of ankles. Shiny white, trippy corridors. With lights that beckoned and lights that danced. And then she herself was a squid. Psychedelically moving in the air. And that was very very hypnotic, she noticed. But wait! Squids can't breathe in the air! Water! She needed water! Desperately! Or she was going to suffocate to death! She could already feel her lungs collapsing under their own vacuum. So she started towards where she thought most logical. The restroom. But would she reach it before she died of total lack of anything in her lungs? Or her gills? The window sill... Why was the window open? She opened the door to the restroom. It was now or never. But she had not breathed for quite sometime now. And how did she open the door without hands? But she just had to dive into the bowl, right now! And splash!
"Aargh!" with a huge gasp and barely a scream she woke up. Panting. Nightmares are very suffocating towards the end, she had noticed. But she could also feel water on her face. "What the eff!" she thought to herself. Then simply noticed that the window besides her bed was open and it was raining like god was finally fed up. She caught another spray of second hand rain on her face. Rain that had fallen on the parapet above, drizzled down, fallen on her window sill and then on to her face. If she had known the smell of water soaked pigeon droppings, she might have noticed is on her face. The rain, she noticed was coming down in a single sheet. No drops. And it sounded like steam being let out of a pressure cooker. A continuous 'pshhhhh.'
Her breathing had calmed down a bit. She got up from the bed. Stepped directly onto something that felt like her last night's joint. Walked up exactly three steps towards her left and into the kitchen. Reached out a hand, opened the refrigerator, got out a bottle and drank the water. Cool, but not too cold. Since the last six months, since her refrigerator had broken, she had used it to store her water bottles anyways. Summers had been harsh with the water being as warm as if freshly milked from an armpit. Rains had given her solace and cool water. She liked the rains. Unlike other seasons, the rains in India had a way of reminding you of what exactly you had done in the so many other rainy seasons that had passed in your lifetime. The puddles, the paper boats, the pushing friends into dirty water bodies beside your school, the occasional holiday to school because the rains had provided the excuse... This was in childhood. Then the walks under umbrellas with your friends, then boyfriends. The smell of a rain soaked man, the feel of his strong chest through his wet clothes, his nipple that you could see and wanted to touch and did so discreetly, the cigarettes and cutting chai that you shared with him while other horny men watched you two from the pan wala besides... His calling you home, giving you his clothes to wear and you loving their feel on your naked body. His cooking up a small but warm meal which you gratefully ate and in the same plate too. Then you cuddling up besides him as he watched TV. Then losing both your clothes...
The rains made her remember his smell. It had been long ago. So it seemed. She remembered him. Missed him a little as her heart gave a jolt. But she was used to not having him around anymore. They had shared this house. This tiny little space. Just a room and a kitchen. There had been other men who had slept in that bed since. And they had masked his smell completely. Yes, she had been in love with him. Love as it existed. Pure and simple. Throw in a lot of lust and that's what they had had. But good things come to an end. And they had been too good to be true. So one rainy day, he got up, left. They both had faulted. They both were hurting each other. He had worked up the courage to stop it till it was not totally crushed and finished. She had been grateful to him a bit for that. But they had planned an entire life together and when he had left, she had been left staring at a wall in front of her. With nowhere to go. Only a past behind and a black wall of nothing ahead. Those had been hard days.
She shook herself out of the reverie. The memories did not hurt as much as they had done then. She even smiled at a few now. But her future and the way she had looked forward to it had been maimed forever now. She had known how special, how magical love had felt. She had loved being in love. It no longer was such now. When and however she had gotten out of the misery, she knew she would have to choose between the devil and the deep sea. She had to choose between being able to completely forget the pain by forgetting the love. That meant, she could actually forget something so sacred, that it was sacred no longer. If something so big could be forgotten, it wasn't as magical as they made it out to be. It meant she could fall in love again and again. Love, suddenly lost its charm when she thought this. Or, she could keep the sanctity of love and wallow for the rest of her life. She was not sure, even after two years of his leaving, what she had chosen. The pain was less, her belief in love was lesser and she still remembered his smell. How could she forget? She and him had smelt exactly alike. And to lose someone who had smelt like you was nothing less than sacrilege... To have refuted fate...
She shook herself out of the reverie again. It was 4am. She still had to catch some sleep before she woke up for office. She hated office, her job. But she wanted to keep the place she had stayed in with him. And she was going to earn her dough for that. But now, the window had to be closed and she had to sleep a little more.
She walked back to the bed. It was a little moist from all the spray coming in. She closed the window, lay down on the bed. That was when she heard the gunshot. Then the scream. The scream that she felt in her heart, that got caught in her throat and then rushed all the way to her fingertips. She never dared open the window the rest of the night.