Kavya smokes. But not like a chimney.
She smokes because she must keep her mouth busy. For as long as she cannot kiss Anant, her lips feel the constant need to do something. She then talks instead. But the nervousness inside makes her talk too much. Acquaintances dismiss her as loud. An attention seeker. So she smokes. Because lips must be kept busy.
But people stare. It isn’t a discreet stare. They stop their bicycles. Turn their head entirely towards her. A man is doing that right now. He has rolled down his car window and is staring. She wants to ask him, ‘Listen you fucker, do you think I blow smoke rings from my ass?’.
Her love for Anant was like a stray mongrel. It had its haunts, but it had no home. It was pure, but had no pedigree. There was no pink in her love. It was a muddy brown, deep and matted. Curled into itself in the winters. Wary of strangers. As if on cue, the dog sleeping between graves wakes up and stares at her. She reaches out. Stray dogs loved her. Restlessness has its own smells.
One hand extended, she attempts to stroke the stray. But like her love, it has taken a lot of shit. It becomes shy. Withdraws. It is almost scared. She whistles. A soft sound promising a warm hand on its tummy. But love has a good memory, and so does a dog. They both curl into themselves, refusing to be touched. She ditches her cigarette. The dog relaxes.
Perhaps she must give up on the nicotine. Love, like dogs, maybe petrified of smoke. And love, like a mongrel, always howls at night.
Note – I think I am venturing into the Kadai series after two years. The last one was here.