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 Yesterday was a good day for yesterday I poured my heart out to Adin. It was evening when I left home to meet Adin, and out of nowhere, I thought of my dead grandfather and how happy he would have been for me! He would have probably kissed my forehead and wished me all the luck in the world. If only, he would take some time out of his busy schedule and come pay me a visit. When we are alive, we have time. But when we are dead we have none.

Seated on a bench, overlooking the Dal Lake, Adin looked beautiful. A glint appeared in her eye when she saw me. A good sign. Behind us were scores of tourists, probably honeymoon couples from across the mountains, clicking silly photos, dressed in traditional, obsolete Kashmiri attires. Long earrings, dangling from their ears-their weight dragging them down. Their heads covered with tedious scarves, reminiscent of an unholy past. Scarves that can transform cute girls into ugly dolls. These gullible tourists with an IQ of a lamp post (her words exact). She cracked jokes at their expense and laughed at her own jokes. The wrinkles that formed beneath her eyes when she laughed betrayed her humaneness. Everything else about her was angelic.

As she talked and laughed and talked, I thought about making love to her. She told me about this two storied house in her neighbourhood with six rooms that housed six families. All six of them brothers with their respective families. I imagined myself living in one of those kitchen/bedrooms, eating sandwiches and making love. Pure eternal bliss. The sun was on its way down and the light was fading fast and it was precisely the time I was waiting for to confess my feelings. But the moment was interrupted by the sound of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayers. Come to Namaaz...Come to Namaaz.  She adjusted her dupatta. I bit my tongue. A holy silence descended upon us.

'I love you,' I said as soon as the muezzin finished his call. She looked at me as if she did not understand me. As if I was speaking a different language.

‘What do you mean? You love me or you are in love with me?’

‘What is the difference?’

She leant forward, placing her chin in her right hand and took her time to answer. The pause felt like an eternity.

‘You can love a friend but you can only be in love with a lover,’ she finally answered.

‘If that is the case… I am in love with you’

Her face turned blank. I could hear my heart pumping blood. She sighed and placed her chin in her hand and leant forward. The pause felt like an eternity. Woe to her! Woe to her! May she never find true love. And then I realised she hadn't rejected me yet. A heat wave surged through my body like a shot of adrenaline.

'You are a good guy but don’t get me are ordinary. If only you would have been more talented, more gifted...'

'Wait here for few minutes,' I said and raced to the shop that sold souls. Huffing and puffing, I asked the shopkeeper about a talented soul. 'Well that’s our bestselling category,' he told me and went inside and came back with four talented souls. A footballer, a painter, a writer and fourth soul that I don’t remember. It was a singer or maybe an actor. My choice was easy. I chose a writer. He quoted a price and I paid him without haggling. As soon as I put on the soul, I could feel words running through my veins. I pictured myself churning masterpieces after masterpieces and if luck managed to stay on my side, maybe a few might even become bestsellers.

Once back on the bench, I saw her buried inside her phone. It had grown dark and the tourists were leaving. I asked her how she would like a writer as her lover?

She took her time to reply. Eerie Silence. My palms started to sweat. Finally, she spoke: Writers are eccentric. I don’t think I can handle a writer. Fame can turn normal people into asses.

 The colour started to drain from my face. She continued: Moreover, I don’t want people making fun of you. They would be quick to pigeonhole us as "the beauty and the beast" types. You know how insensitive people can be!

Fuck the people, I said on the inside. On the outside, I took a deep breath, looked over my shoulder and took out a Marlboro. I peeked right and I peeked left and with no familiar face nearby, I lit one. Not one to lose hope so quickly, I asked her to wait for me and darted across to the shop that sold souls.

'I want a good looking soul,' I told him.

A smirk crossed his face. He showed me a few souls and I chose the one that I felt suited me best. I put it on and looked into the mirror. The face that stared back at me was indeed better looking. Happy with my choice, I raced back and found her perched on her seat. Without a word, I sat next to her. The seat was still warm.

'You nearly gave me a heart attack,' she said and then she stopped. Her eyes were glued to my face. Her mouth wide open.

'How do I look?'

Now that I was a good looking stud, she was bound to say yes and be happy about it. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

'I Liked you better before,’ she replied. ‘Now that you are a good looking guy, girls will swoon over you. I am pretty sure that pretty soon, you will find a girl, better looking than me, dump me for her, only to dump her for the next bimbo’

Her words stung me. I pictured her as a snake; her tongue transformed into a fang.  All I wanted was for her to love me. Love me like I loved her. And all she did was crib and complain and come up with silly excuses. So, I decided to stand up for myself, for my love, our love, our future and bluntly asked her how she could predict the future?

‘I don’t know but I can sense it and women are great at sensing these things,’ she replied not looking at me. I scratched my head so hard that my scalp started to ache. I wanted to claw at something like cats do when they come back from the wild.

‘You are not making any sense,’ I yelled at her and bit my tongue.

‘Don’t yell’

And with that, she burst into tears. Thankfully, all the happy people had long gone otherwise it would have been embarrassing. I tried to calm her down but the more I tried, the more she slipped out of control. She was like quicksand. I was at my wit's end. I tried apologising and, somehow, that infuriated her further.

I fumbled through my pockets for a handkerchief but instead retrieved one full of phlegm. Then, and I sense the hand of something unnatural in it, I remembered something that I read in one of those girly magazines: Women love chocolates. So, I gave her a box of chocolates (a gift that I had bought her to solemnise our love). And pretty soon, she stopped crying.


‘You know what I would like to a man?’ she said between mouthfuls of chocolate. ‘Sensitivity, good nature, confidence, intelligence, and of course…sophistication’

I nodded in agreement and made a mental note of these qualities. Can one soul have so many qualities? Was it even possible? I had my doubts. I remembered a line I read somewhere on Facebook: Winners never Quit and Quitters never win. What can I say? This desperate, gullible heart of mine was grasping at straws. So, I decided to give it another shot. I raced back to the shop that sold souls. It was closing time and the shop had an eerie feeling to it. As if it had a life of its own and as if it had worn itself out from all the ramblings it had witnessed during the day. The shopkeeper, out of pity or out of good nature decided to entertain my request. It is almost impossible, he said before both of us dug our heads into the shop like miners, in search of Californian gold. The narrow alley outside had emptied and all that was left was a pack of dogs, eyeing us from distance, waiting for us to leave so that they could rule the darkness. Finally, the shopkeeper found a soul that ticked almost all the boxes. He charged me twice the price.

Adin was still as a corpse when I returned. The only thing that breathed apart from her was the long street lamp under which a pack of mosquitoes buzzed around.

‘How do you find me now?’ I put myself out in front of her like those whores that put themselves out for customers. And like those insensitive customers, she rejected me again.

‘Why don’t you get it? You are a dear friend to me and I don’t want to ruin our friendship’

My mouth went dry and the blood in my veins froze. I could not believe her. Everything in front of me was enveloped by darkness. Her face opened to me as it was. The face of Medusa. Around me, I only saw darkness, pitch black darkness, the complete absence of light.

She tugged at my sleeve and said something. I pushed her away. I put my hands inside the pockets of my overcoat and walked away.

‘Please, don’t leave. I’m sorry…’

Her voice fizzled out behind me. She became a distant dream.

Hence, finally, I am free. Free from those invisible shackles that I had so willfully put on. I can write. I can masturbate. I can do whatever I want. Not a care in the world.

Yesterday was indeed a good day!

 A story

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