It was that morning when the eagle swooped into her courtyard to seize one of the newborn kittens. It was a black kitten, born 28 days ago—the day her husband had died. The kids in the neighbourhood told her she should call the kitten Blackie. But she wanted the kitten to grow up with a darker name. She named him Night (though she ended up calling him Nighty anyway).

So, yes, it was the morning Nighty was carried away by an eagle. She didn’t hear his desperate squeals as there was a storm roaring in her ears. In the passage between her drawing room and her kitchen, she was getting to know a kiss after 15 years. And kisses scream in your ears when they take so long to find you. And to think of what they do then—to your lips, your heart and other greedy places in your body.

So where were we? Yes…Nighty.

It was the day that Nighty, the kitten, was carried away by the eagle, and the noisy kids in the neighbourhood came running into her house to tell her that Nighty was kidnapped. At least they wanted to tell her that. But they forgot all about it when they saw what she was doing—and what was being done to her. They wished they hadn’t yelled her name like that when they rushed in.


Everything that was happening between the Man and her suddenly came to an end. Kissing. Biting. Moaning. Stroking. Sucking. So much of action was brought to an instant halt. The kids, of course, couldn’t catalogue any of that. They just saw a man and a woman who were up to something that they didn’t want anyone else to see.

Two minutes later, she rushed out of the door to look at the sky. She loved Nighty, and she wanted to cry. But her eyes could not find the necessary tears meant for goodbye. Because her heart was beating in its cage, and after so many years she had finally tasted a kiss on her lips—a bit of the cigarette he had been smoking when he had come in, and a bit of the lemonade she had offered him when he had got up to leave.

She stood in the verandah, looking up, terrified that the kids will tell everyone around, and tomorrow the kiss would grow larger than her house, her neighbourhood, her life, her husband’s death, and it would only settle down after it had swallowed up this precious, reckless afternoon. She was thinking about the looming scandal when He came and stood behind her. She didn’t turn back to look at him. She simply told him to leave. The kids were still in the compound and they were looking at Him and her as if they were the lead pair in a raunchy C-grade movie poster.

But, no, she was the good woman from the family movies, wasn’t she? So she told Him it was a mistake and He should have kept his distance and she should have kept her dignity, and many other things that seemed appropriate for a situation like this. He heard her quietly, and then told her to shut up and to grow up. She smirked at that. He was 22, and she was 35. (She couldn’t grow up any more, could she?)

And just like that, he left. For home. For his Play Station. For his late night bar of caramel chocolate stashed in the fridge. For 4 am martial arts workout. And for the rest of his training at the National Defence Academy.

She wondered who had taught him to kiss like that? To bite blood out of lips and make it sweet. To make a woman forget she was old enough to be his…well, old enough. She watched him walk away, and wondered what he will remember about her, a week, a month, a year from now? Would he think of her as a fantasy figure from his teenage years? Or will he remember her, while guarding some cold, conflicted terrain, as a warm afternoon that had ended too soon?

Suddenly, it didn’t matter.

So she went inside her house and latched the door. There was an unfinished kiss standing in a house that had never known a kiss before. In a marriage that had lasted over 10 years, she had been devoured often and she had enjoyed some of it. But she had never known a thorough, wet kiss. That night she did something she had never done before—she slept naked. And she slept peacefully. In her dreams, she saw the eagle lose its grip on Nighty and the kitten fall on a large, gentle mimosa tree. He was bleeding, but he was alive. And lying on a bed of shy leaves, he was looking up at a sunset sky full of birds released from cages.

The next morning she got an SMS on her phone. “Send me a pic of yours. No, not a nude one. Just smile into the camera.”


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