As my cup of chai steamed, I sat there, with my hope in front and baggage on the side.. Window.. vast, clean, honest.. trying to hide a little, and failing miserably.. just stood there staring at me the same way I stared at her.. Her? Who would call a window ‘her’! Maybe none.. maybe some.. maybe I. My wait had stretched from 1st cup to the 4th, and a half eaten piece of cake – as dry as those eyes, staring into forever. I usually loved that cake.. not this dry one though.. but I still loved it.. and after a wait of 4 cups, I was beginning to rethink my decision to.. to wait.. to save that half a piece for her. Because she loved it.. not the cake.. but how I always saved some for her. And always, my wait for her was shortened from 5 cups to 2 when I told her that a cake, and not me, was waiting.
Except for this time..
Reluctantly, and knowing somewhere deep down, I broke a small piece off that dry sweet shit. Thought twice before savoring it and thrice after.. It almost felt like cheating. But who am I to define cheating.. she knows better. She always did. She knew, She decided. She taught me how stealing a kiss with your best friend was not cheating.. but an affection gone wrong; how making love to a complete stranger was not cheating, but a moment; and how lying about her love for me and her apathy for my money was not cheating, but a choice. Yes.. she defined it for me.. she taught me all.. And I believed her. Rather, My love believed her. My love, not ours.
She also taught me how I was cheating when I hugged my friend, crying uncontrollably upon her brother’s death, or when I took a bite from her share of cake.. like just now. Thank god she’s not here yet.. maybe I should order another one for her.. a fresh one. Maybe I’ll ask the guy behind the counter, yes, that one with more lines on his head than his palms, to make it afresh.. soft, and warm, like her winter skin. Maybe i should ask him to not make it yet, but when she is about to reach.. Maybe.. I should.. Maybe.. I won’t.
Because.. maybe she won’t come. Because maybe she can’t..
Just like how she couldn’t because of her leg twist when I met with the accident. Or how she had an ‘exam’ at the club when my mom died. Just like.. I am sure it’d be something important, just like always. Otherwise she’d come. Because how else will she buy that same necklace as Neha, making sure nobody beat her.. either at fashion or love.
That last piece stared at me. Smirked.. then burst out laughing. Yeah.. he knew, I wouldn’t do that.. I couldn’t cheat. I wasn’t allowed to.. you see one of us had to hold the beacon of uprightness and morality.. And who but me? Because that’s what I always did.. the right. I loved, helped, forgave and loved again and forgave again and loved her once more. I always did the right thing. And so.. I stared back at him. What right he had to mock me! What did he know about… I looked away.
My 5th one had now gone from steaming to a barely warm pitiable liquid. Just like me. Maybe the wait will stretch to my 6th.. maybe she’ll get through the traffic by then. Or Maybe she’ll.. not. Maybe she can’t.. maybe.. because she doesn’t know. And even if she does.. who know..
At last, it was too late.. I picked my bags and left, to never return.
At last, I ate the cake.
At last, I cheated.