'How much for a bunch?', I asked, the bitter taste of my last cigarette still fresh in my mouth and on my fingertips. I liked how the faint smell of tobacco remained on my fingers, sometimes even hours after my last session with the cigarette; a far cry from the past when it disgusted me, of course my past was way past my present and no longer a part of me.
I paid the tiny sum of Rupees five to the old lady and took the sweet smelling flowers wrapped in fresh, wet green leaf. I had never quite bought flowers like this before, but this was an impulsive purchase and anomalies were allowed here. I walked further in the dimming twilight of the first cold evening of January , reading the names of shops passing by, in a language I barely understood.
I smelt them much later, through the open edges of the green leaf. The fragrance took me by surprise, I never expected it to be so extraordinarily beautiful. People stared at me as I stood right there, in the middle of the ocean of people flowing all around. Shoulders brushed against mine, and clothes rustled as everyone rushed past, some going home while others away from it. Everyone was busy. I stood alone.
I met Sonia an hour later in our usual cafe, the fragrance still with me, the flowers tucked away safely in the side pocket of my backpack. This was our last coffee date, but I heard nothing, even when she screamed and stormed out. This was her moment, yet I robbed it off her, though unintentionally. She could have stayed back and screamed some more, I wouldn't have minded. I was happy with the beauty I now possessed, with the unexpected joy of connecting with myself through the faint smell, with the mystery these little white flowers were going to reveal to me in the night.
I had the flowers crushed on my face as I worked upon myself, building up a climax I barely even knew existed. I was in a trance while the smell filled all the space around me. The bed sheet was damp with my sweat later, even as the fan whirred slowly overhead and I lay satisfied with the faintest ever smile on my face.
I got a fright the next morning when the flowers wilted and their beauty waned. The grief was as unexpected as the joy of finding their beauty the previous evening. I slept through the morning and the afternoon, dreaming intermittently about Sonia and the white flowers, my throat going dry and an expectation building up at the thought of the old woman and buying the flowers again. Even before the sunlight started fading, I was ready to go out and explore. I wasn't the same animal anymore.