I open my eyes and immediately shut it tight. The light from my window is blinding. I slowly open my eyes again and let the light seep in. I am a groggy mess with hair sticking out of weird places. I put my feet on the floor, already regretting leaving my bed. I feel like an old lady, tired and debilitated and I look like a nightmare. I think about last night and a smile creeps up involuntarily.
“This has been the best night of my life”, he’d said slightly drunk as we lay under the dark starry night.
Earlier that night, he had picked me up from my place in his car. Dressed in a smart white t-shirt, black blazer and trousers, he looked like a young Raj Kapoor (without the moustache and with the beard). He handed me a bunch of beautiful tulips, my favourite flowers. He opened the door of the car for me and let me slide in. “Look at you being such a gentleman”, I said. “That’s because I know you are a sucker for chivalry”, he smirked. He got into the driver’s seat and we drove away. We left the city and all its glittering man-made lights behind, and made our way to a quaint house just outside the city. The house was surrounded by tall trees, and grass and yellow wildflowers sprinkled in between.
“I’ll be right back”, he said. He sprinted back to the car and opened the trunk to remove a blanket, mattress and a basket containing food. We sat on the mattress, and he opened the basket to reveal my favourite wine (the cheap Golconda) and a bunch of sandwiches. Under the starlight, we ate, drank the wine and talked. We talked about the world and his dreams and my dreams. We talked about the stars and he showed me the constellations. We talked like we would never meet again. We talked because we would never meet again.
“What is your favourite book?” , he asked
“Little Women”, I replied
“Because it told me that life will always get better.”
I slept on his chest that night, under the stars and the moon, matching my breath to his, wishing this night would never end. “This has been the best night of my life”, he said. Then the morning came and we woke up, drove back to the city. There had been a quietness between us all the way back. He dropped me home early morning. I sneaked back into my house and slipped under my duvet.
I snapped back into reality when my mother entered the room. “It’s time”, she said. I was dressed in a green choli and wine red lehenga and then married to a man chosen by my parents.
I never saw him again. It has been 35 years since that night, but it still is the best night of my life.
Photography By: Kanika Narang