29th June, 2014-  She stands in front of the boy whose startled to see her, at 7 a.m. Tears rolling down her cheeks, trying to clutch to the last piece of her sanity. She searches the face she’s been unable to read- even after a decade, for an answer and all that stares back at her, is the familiar indifference.

15th Oct ’16- ‘Andy’s proposed to Diya,’ announces my friend and the boy in question’s rakhi sister, to our married friends, who are joining us late for dinner. ‘Kyaa?’, asks the Bhoppu. ‘ Abbe, kyaa? Pasand karta hu isko, shaadi karna chahta hu,’ laughs the 41 year old, man- child I’ve known for a couple of decades. All my bravery is just bravado, I’m a total and complete coward who is totally taken aback by his candour. A couple of days ago, over dinner he put ‘his cards on the table’, asking me to give a thought to the idea of him and I being together. I didn’t take it seriously, after all in my younger years I was- the queen of the rebound. When people are coming out of relationships, they need someone to cling to and he and I are the same brand of aashiqs. It takes us a fraction of a second to fall for someone. Up until the moment he announces it to our jingbang, that he’s giving me time to think about it, I don’t give it a real thought.

Have you ever been haunted by a memory? Despite my terrible recalling power, I’ve been haunted by three. One is coming home, at the age of nine and the help showing me a burnt suit, ‘tumhari mummy ne jalaa liya he, apne aapko!’. The other is getting out of the car at AIIMS, my ex walking behind me, some of my brother’s friends crying. Meeting my mother and suddenly being told.’your baby is dead.’ Yelling at Mom, to stop speaking rubbish and then being told, it’s true. I remember till the moment I fell to the floor oh, so dramatically and tore my suit. The rest is a haze. The first two, I get why I’m haunted by. The last one, standing in front of a boy crying, I wonder why that keeps popping up at the most inopportune time.

As the alcohol makes its way into my system that night and the man-child becomes sweeter, I start to panic. That memory from 2014, starts playing in my head in a constant loop. I’m a terrible drunk… the alcohol makes me howl, like a child. After a point, my mind blanks out. I wake up in Bhoppu’s, son’s room. Spend the entire day in bed, unable to stop that damn loop from playing. Bhoppu, fusses over me like a mother hen and the man-child comes over so that he can drop me home. ‘You know it’s easy to tell someone, something in private and to later back out of it. It’s harder to back out of something that you’ve declared in front of people,’ he says. ‘I get that,’ I reply.

I’m welcomed home by a sarcastic father, ‘Paramjit Singh ke bacche ho ke, ulti karti ho! Both my children were useless drunks.’ A little while later,  I enter an empty basement. A couple of days in a year, I hate being alone. Its one of those days. Drift in and out of sleep, as the loop plays in my head. The boy who waits, calls on the landline. I’m comforted by the sound of a voice I’m unafraid of. Speak to him for a couple of minutes and as I’m ending the conversation I’m reminded of what he once told me. ‘You need to be tricked, slowly, otherwise, you run away. That’s why I don’t push you, I know you’ll throw a fit. When you’ve pushed me back enough times to see if I’ll run and when I don’t, that’s when you’ll agree.’

I wonder when will I be ready and who’ll be strong enough to be my man as I play ‘nobody’ on a loop. ‘I don’t need noooobodddyyy’, should get me through the night.