He climbed out of bed, drowsy and irritated. The room was a mess. It wasn’t a classic Iranian film shot with sunlight seeping in through a window and the hero lying awake. Deep philosophical thoughts weren’t plunging through his head like a Bombay local. However, a girl was lying on his side half naked— he could just see half a shapely ass. Not a bad start to a day, except that he didn’t know where her clothes were. Or who she was. Or why he was fully dressed.
He pulled his completely covered self out of bed and walked to his kitchen. No sugar. Lots of milk, but of the sour kind. He boiled some water and added all that was left in a sachet of Nescafe. It tasted horrible but he was never good at making things. He walked back inside, stirring the cup hoping that it might taste better if it cooled down. The girl had turned to the other side, the ass was now fully visible in all its glory.
Should he wake her up? He wasn’t very sure of that. She could react in a thousand different ways. He might not like all of them. He had an attitude of taking life very seriously. Every moment and every turn had a meaning. So did every word he penned down. He was a small town writer.
He coughed gently and waited for her to respond. Not even a flicker. He gently set the coffee down, stretched his hands, stood up. And whipped the sheet off of her in a swift single movement. A fair maiden rolled out onto the floor like a mythical figure. But she scrambled up too clumsily to be Cleopatra. Nakedness was the minimum he was willing to accept as rent. Beauty was however a welcome bonus.
“What is wrong with you?”, she asked climbing back into the bed, as if she owned the place.
“Nothing. I’m just taking advantage of you.”
“Are you going to rape me?”, she hid her face underneath a pillow, still not taking an effort to cover her— he had to admit, flawless body.
“I’ve not dismissed the idea completely. The neighbours are away, and I could just blame it on the drink, and also that you turned up unannounced.”
“Can you pass me the bottle?”, continued the girl, flicking a thumb down to indicate something under the bed.
He got down on all fours, and rummaged under the bed. The floor was filled with a viscous liquid, and he had somehow not noticed the smell until now. Persistence of the odour maybe. His fingers wrapped around a thin neck and he pulled out a bottle.
Madera. Nashik valley red wine.
“I walked in after you yesterday. After I saw you park your bike. Just on top of my scooter, like literally”. She took a swig and passed it back.
“You couldn’t tell me so, then?”
“I did. I mean, I tried. I was talking to you, and you were staring through me for a while, like I was invisible. For like minutes. Then you walked away to the bedroom— I mean here. You have a nice place, and I didn’t have one to stay. So I switched off the lights after a while”
He took another sip from the wine. It was horrible, but the after-taste made his tongue buds forget the coffee. She looked at him as if the whole conversation was a normal part of her daily humdrum life. He wasn’t the least bothered by her attractiveness either. There was an inexplicable comfort in the silence that wrapped them both. He would hate it if this wouldn’t lead up to a good story. He was a connoisseur of time, though he didn’t earn his living from his writing. He was too smart for that. He wouldn’t delude himself by hoping that his passion would fetch him bread. Art for money was a notion for the rich. To him art was made when he wished. Writer’s block or the draught of inspiration were all alien to him. Abstract concepts limited to mediocre individuals who wanted to make a ‘creator’ image for themselves. He was beyond all that. He was pragmatic, soulless. A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.
“No. We didn’t have sex. I just couldn’t find the A/C remote. And it was too warm, even for underwear”. She stood up and started gathering her clothes. She walked out of the room after a few minutes. He gently closed his eyes.
When he woke up again in the afternoon, he couldn’t recall her face. There were three hundred rupee notes left beneath the wine bottle near his bed side. She was real.
He felt he could have asked for her name, that butt could not have been a figment of his imagination.