9 February

So-On and I are meeting after 3 weeks. I took the train this morning into town, wondering if I would be doing this journey so often, much longer.

I know So-On is still seriously contemplating going to New York for a course in dramatics or something or the other. And the fight between Uncle and him is still on. That is one of the reasons we haven’t met in such a long time, and if he won the fight, and did go away to New York, it would mean meeting him less and less. I am already shuddering at the thought of it.

Somehow, in the last few months, particularly since the New Year’s party, I haven’t been seeing So-On with the rose-tinted glasses I used to earlier. But that doesn’t mean that I can live without him. Or that I want to. I am not sure that I want to go to his place with my mind tied up in knots like this.

Thankfully, So-On’s mother is out at a fashion launch. The house is peaceful, though So-On’s face is anything but.

Me: “Is everything all right?”

So-On: “Let’s not discuss any of that, Appi. Just sit here quietly and let me look at you. It’s been ages since we met.”

I sit down in my favourite place, near the window and look out at the view I love the most in the world. So-On does not quite sit down opposite me and look at me, as he had threatened to. It would have been very strange if he had. After a few minutes of shuffling around, he comes and sits down in the nook, facing me. He puts his arm casually on my knee, and my heart is thumping. Surely, he can hear it. But he is preoccupied with his own thoughts.

Me: “You can’t not talk about it. Your mind has no space for anything else.”

So-On: “True. But what’s the point? I’m so tired of this fight between Dad and me. You know me; normally I would have let go. But I do, do want to go to New York.”

Me: “Because Sam is going?”

So-On: “Yes.”

Me, even though I am hurting like hell: “So you love her?”

So-On: “I don’t know. We’ve never had a real chance here to explore our feelings. There’s always been so much else, so many other factors. But I know I’ve never felt like this about any other girl before.”

Me: “Oh.”

He carries on some more about Sam, and I slide deeper and deeper into a silence which even he cannot help notice.

So-On: “But enough about me. Tell me about you. You meet me less and less, Appi, and call me less and less, these days. What’s up?”

Me, with a great effort: “Nothing really. Just work. And this Comma affair. And Dodo being home. All of that.”

So-On: “Oh, that Comma. I get so infuriated that you had to spend your holiday in Bhopal because of her.”

Me: “I offered to go. Besides, she is my friend.”

So-On, in a little boy voice: “And I am not?”

Me, my heart breaking almost: “Yes, you are.”

So-On comes closer to me then, his face on my knees. And I want so to stroke his hair. But my fists are curled up tightly. And I look away, out of the window, until he gets up, and goes to see Ayah about some coffee and snacks for us.

Going home in the late train, sitting by the window in an almost empty compartment, surrounded by the tired, sleepy faces of women going back late from work, I feel despair. Will my life ever change to be more than this? Now I wish that So-On would go away to New York. Perhaps that will allow me to make a break, to breathe freely, to let someone else into my life. It is clear now that I cannot carry on loving So-On, and yet I do.

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