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Monday, April 7, 2008

over a smoke

She never asked him anything. He never told her when he would come. But she always knew. It was not as if he came frequently. he sometimes never came. And when he did, it was always sudden—without notice. And yet, she knew. There would be no one visiting her then. She always made sure no one else came.

He knew nothing about her. He never asked.

It was not like she took care to welcome him. She never did anything special. She was the same. Always… to everyone. But he was different still. In ways she couldn’t explain. And so the only real effort she put in was to stack four packets of cigarettes. She knew he liked smoking. But she also knew he never smoked unless it was with her. It was something she had gathered from the way he always choked and coughed on the first cigarette he smoked with her.

There was a dim orange light in the room. She sat on the windowsill. Smoking. The red eye of the cigarette blended with the orange in the room. The smoke curled up over her head. Her hair soaked it up. The smokey curls hidden in her black curls. She played with a loose strand of hair which came up to her chin. He would be here any moment. She sensed it.

The freshly lit cigarette joined a pile of butts in the ashtray.

He came in. she acknowledged him by shifting her position from the window sill to the cane chair near the bed. He kept his small suitcase behind the door and joined her. He never looked at her. She always studied him.

She knew he had a family somewhere. She knew it by stitches that had mended a tear in his vest. She knew it in the way his eyes always watered after everything. She sensed it in the way he kept running his fingers over his fingers searching for an invisible ring. She knew he was in love with his wife. And this made her proud, if a woman like her could ever be, that he still came.

She lit another cigarette. She blew the smoke on to his face. He merely shrugged. She never waited for him to make the first move. It was always her—never him. She smiled inside. It was always this way. It was never different. She stood up and slipped off her cotton dress and wore her nakedness with arrogance. He looked up and took in her nudity. He was always careful not to look into her eyes. He always stared beyond her. Never inside. He never searched her. He just looked. She arranged herself on the bed. He joined her.

It was well into the night when he slipped out of the bed and sat on the chair. He coughed over the first cigarette. She joined him. She rested her bare legs on his thighs. He never pushed them away. Did not make any sign of like or dislike. He sat smoking. The packets emptied steadily. One after the other. She waited for the last cigarette he always left for her.

He lighted it and kept it on the table. She picked it up and balanced it between her fingers.

He dressed up. And pushed a wad of notes under the pillow. Picked up his suitcase and went to the door.

His hands rested on the knob a little more than usual. He turned back. She started.

“She died last week.”

The door closed. She stood staring at the door.

The cigarette had fallen down and was steadily scorching the old wooden floor.


david santos said...

Hello, Vrinda!
I loved this post and this blog.
Have a nice day.

vrinda said...

@ david

thank u david for chancing on my blog, reading it and moreover loving it..


manu said...

loved it..!

Anonymous said...

I Would say that was nice , but not the best you could have done . The sentences seem very ordinary compared to your older posts . It just feels like any post rather than 'vrindas' post . Have seen similiar articles with the same subject and almost the same rendering style in many other blogs .

With that said , nice ,again . Hope you take my criticism in a postive sense :) . A Very Good day to you ! ..

vrinda said...


glad u liked it :)

vrinda said...


thank u for readin thru this post..and yes i will keep wat u said in mind, and try harder next time :)

happy n proud that u actually discerned a 'vrinda' style ...

crumbs said...

Woah! You're turning out to be quite a story teller mate!
I may have read the style before, but I still could not stop or divert my attention till the end...AND the last sentence still caught me by surprise...and an errie that's saying something

PS. call me prejudiced, but I like your stories more than your poems...but then I always like stories (at least, I can understand them ;))

vrinda said...

@ crumbs

glad u liked it :)
and i'l let u in a secret...i like my prose bettr thn my feeble attempts at poetry too :)

Anonymous said...

this is a grt post. i loved the sense of darkness and mystery and gloom that prevails in the story. little details like the 'orange light', the 'four cigarette packets' make the story very finely etched out.

keep writing and you will go places

vrinda said...

@ anon

thank u so much for ur encouragement...and do keep coming back...

Swathi said...

nice. :)
but could be better. like in the piece, the climax can get enhanced, the pitch can afford to go higher. i think.
keep them coming. :)

vrinda said...


will keep in mind the next time :)
thank u

suji said...

did i say tht i wud comment. am totally lost for words, dear..loved it.

vrinda said...

@suji chettan

as always u overwhelm me :)

Abhinav Viswambharan said...

Nice post Vrinda. I liked the way you narrated it. Off late I have come across some really good bloggers. I guess, yours would be a prominent addition to that list. :)

vrinda said...


thanks a lot..:)

manorath said...

i must ve chanced upon ur blogs b4.. sad that i was late..

well.. i dont care bout the other comments.. u ve an amazin style in narration.. i actually could feel the smoke.. go ahead...

Shiva said...

nice post
checkout my blogs

vrinda said...

@ manorath

thank u :)

vrinda said...

@ shiva

will do :)

Ammu said...

Well Vrinda...i know its unfair to comment that "one part of the creation is good".Still...i love the way u started...but in middle..somewhere i lost my interest...and again i loved the catching climax...

expecting more from u :)


Zeinab said...

The best I've read from you yet. It transcends words, sentences and images, goes direct into something we always look for in life. Never mind what the others say, this is quite stunning. I never felt I was reading a story. A few sentences into the blog, I was thinking, wow, what a snappy whore, she's got such a fine style expressing herself. Well, this one is surely one of the best blogs about a prostitute (or maybe a struggling student or whatever, it's not a routine love relationship). What was that man after...I wonder. But that's just the beauty of it, because there is no answer, and no attempt is made either...
Thanks for this one.

Zeinab said...

Just read some of the comments above: it's a social service you do, I get to know so many people and the way they react to things (in this case: your blog).

I don't think it's the climax that matters to me: you are very candid, you notice the details, and you really don't care what people think about how you write (you are sufficiently confident, that is). I think the ending ("climax") is quite irrelevant, because this is merely one among the many similar episodes in her life. I think that is where the quality of the story lies.

You don't have to keep it a secret, you write prose well. About your poetry...well it's a bit too early.

vrinda said...


thank u for being so candid. i peronslaly do not acre fro beginnings,endings or anyhtin but the oavreall feel. but then again, each part has its own beauty in watever way v put thank u again :)

vrinda said...


hmmm am no prostitute nor am i a struggilng student :)

but wat the heck! gald u liked the for the man, neither do i know wat he was or wanted :)