The lovemaking session perished quicker than usual. The crisp course was inventive but not effective. He was still aching for more foreplay was already stirred deeply in the intimate parts of his anatomy. His wetness had barely evaporated off his lips and his legs were already enslaved. The sex seemed rough, almost non-caring and secluded; a vague thumping on the wrong door. It reminded him of everything not meant to be, but he did not intend to stop it. To exert his branding to the current setting was the last thing he would have done. It was already fading.
The urgency that presented itself dripped of only one conclusion – his lover trying hard to not stop abruptly, but to drive every sexual stage with a greater velocity, so that the effect was silent and unquestionable. Like he would not come to know of the ungrowing and the history of his lover inside his body.
Rahul remembered the exact second they started. Not always did he keep a count (to pick up the best one on an anniversary or a birthday to excite and at its worst, as weapons for the arguments and fights). These days he had such less of Prateek to himself and this just added to the memory cushion of his relationship, making it uncomfortable. He had seen the times of greater passions and undying conquests and yes, he could tell the difference.
One was done when the other was longing and hurt. One finished quickly, the other just rousing from a slumber realizing he had been touched. Their union lived the fragile life of a moth. The sweat of labor, generated in the last hour of the sexual brawling would generally make them inseparable and they would embrace for hours.
“One’s own space,” to them was just a concept theoretical in nature. Why would one want to be separated from one’s lover? Other than the usual liabilities of work, for which they would have to be away in different places, they would forever be spotted together. The films, the food courts, occasional dosage of theatre when drama in life dipped low, the dirty beach and the parties, would always whisper about their uncomfortable presence, for Rahul was a little effeminate for a man, his gait and gestures, Prateek forever caressing him in a sort of encouragement. They were not the sort who would like to be left alone in love in a setting. They hated being without each other and without people. People were their oxygen and they thrived on them. Sometimes it was the hard criticism they received on the displays of their affection, the other times the jealousy they stirred among other insecure men- single or compromising. It made them feel good when people wished to be like them- to walk like them, to hug like them, embrace like them and no one had seen but assumed, to even make love like them.
Lovemaking already over, today they didn’t embrace after like they usually did. In fact it seemed like a race to the edge of the bed, the finishing line on either side. No words were expressed. Eyes kept to each its own, trying hard to not meet the other’s. For if they did meet there will be the questions, the complaints, the guilt and the shame and god forbid those tears. No, Prateek couldn’t take his tears. They would make him helpless; he would at times let him win arguments and disagreements just with a dramatic “tear from one eye running down the side of his cheek.” Rahul actually knew about this power he enjoyed and at times even misused it. Not like a criminal explaining murder, but like a child faking tiredness to get on his mother’s lap. Prateek felt guilt surging in him and the other hoped he did. There was so much to be articulated, but to shut up seemed a good resolution then.
Their silence left clues of disdain and discord- the proximity of the couple to the edge of the bed and the distance between them, the quilt stretched from the centre to its threshold for they were far away. Things had suddenly duplicated in the room – two water bottles, two ashtrays and two books. Silence; it was becoming more and more visual and unbearable; a guilty Prateek spoke aloud-
“You want to smoke? ”
“Yes please, in the lower drawer. Pass me the lighter as well.”
“You know, if you want to…”
“If I could do what I wished I would not be here”
“Are you angry?”
“ How does that matter? Would it change things?”
“Why are you so angry and cold?”
“I’m not or probably I have been transformed to this for a couple of months now. Maybe you stopped noticing.” Rahul suggested.
“Fine, if you say there is no issue to talk about, then I believe you.”
“Pass me my boxers.”
With the boxers deported to the other side, the ownership and boundaries were clearly demarcated now, possessions like the eyes – to each his own. Rahul did not want to address the issue of careless lovemaking right now. If Prateek had insisted more he might have probably said a point or two, but would have eventually given up and forgiven him- for today and for the past so many days, of his ignorance, his selfishness and his every move that had strained him. Rahul loved him more than his books and his stationary, somewhere ranking at par with his family, and that was the truth. He had to fake anger at times, to retain his self-respect and his standing. It was very short lived but believable. It wouldn’t have taken much for him to get back into the game but Prateek never asked.
Now the cigarettes were lit. The smoke generally added to the intoxication of the atmosphere. Prateek loved the way Rahul held his cigarette with a straight back, stiff necked; one arm folded the other supported at the elbow, while the wrist seemed to pivot the hand flexibly, almost like an anxious spoilt ballerina dancer, relieving him self before an act. The nature of the smoke puffs and trails from the cigarette tell a lot. The content lovers that they were some months back, would be tried by the end of the sessions (always in plural). Supporting themselves with a mountain of pillows they would lazily light up cigarettes and hold still, the room, the air and even the silence. The smoke from the tip of the burning stick would daintily drift up in the most French fashion in a straight line and fade into nothingness. Even the mouths would be left open for the smoke to escape. Nothing would be forced, everything effortless. A perfect setting where Rahul would manage to make a ring or two out of smoke. Nothing would move in the room, for they were content and tired and anything that stirred in the moment was deafening.
Today the smoke did the wild swirling dance before melting. There was silence in the room but no peace. The puffs were deep and the exhaling stronger. No shapes and ribbons, just a hazy obscure drill of smoke befitting their clouded hearts. The heavy panting, the cough and the impressionist backdrop; guilt arose in Prateek again –
“I’m sorry. If you want to say anything you can,” said he in the most non-committed conduct.
“I want to have a muffin,” Rahul dodged.
“I meant more on what happened right now,” as if it weren’t lucid enough.
“If you didn’t notice, things barely happened for me,” in finality.
“There we go” he dared not to say it aloud.
Prateek didn’t feel particularly good about being thought a sloppy lover, incapable. If there were a choice to stretch the love workout for longer he would have. It tired him today- more physically than mentally. Nothing changed visually. Rahul was still his slender, delicate lover with mortal marks on his body and a mole above his lip. Still as beautiful as the first time he saw him, technically. Inside, he was saturated with him. He did love him, but failed to be excited by him now. Also this he could always get on demand any time. The sadistic disapproval and the chase to turn it into an approval was something Prateek missed. The sense of achievement everytime he got someone into bed was something that he would not get in this relationship, or any for that matter, and he craved for it.
“I’m just a person, and sex is enjoyed impulsive, not robotic,” Prateek tried to half convince himself.
His mind was diverted and the reasons ran deep and low, and more than being just bored with his partner, it was a problems aplenty today. This distraction came in the form of this tangible other boy. He, who impregnated him with a fond erotic memory, was something that Rahul now failed to provide him. This beautiful colleague he had been eyeing for days. He managed to play a similar game of love with him this afternoon. It was fresh, pickled in pure lust. He felt he actually blacked out in sweet pain today.
There was a break at work, a public wash room and too much desire to steer. A heaven driven coincidence and these two boys found each other in the washroom at the same time. A little peek-a-boo and a faint smile, smeared with a literature full of lust led quickly the incidents voluntarily, and they settled in one of the cubicles. What happened then was pure art, yielding and moving. It simmered of hot passion and eclectic imagery. Not even once did Prateek think of his partner who might have been thinking about him at that instant. He enjoyed the best sex of the past few months and it didn’t last long- the rush of it and the fragility.
Suddenly a rash on his own triceps caught his attention and the same wooing smile of the washroom appeared again. In an instant Prateek went through the full course of the sinful indulgence of the late noon in his mind in his bedroom. Like the moon in all its imperfections shines in the night sky, his smile brazenly lit up the room of mourning.
He caught the eye of Rahul catching the view of his scared arm, slowly flowing up to meet his eyes.
” That doesn’t seem to be a mark of my doing. Mine are less red out of concern and more defined out of perfection.” This Prateek thought he could read in Rahul’s eyes.
He then saw him light another cigarette and pull deep puffs, exhale slowly and drift off to sleep, as if some heavy burden lifted from Rahul’s head and on to his. The morning will define the incident now, and Prateek wished the night would carry on incessantly.