I tiredly put the key in the lock and entered my dark apartment. Night was young and noise from cars passing on the street below added certain music to it. I heaved a sigh and slowly groped for the light switch. The dark apartment flooded with sudden blazing light. Involuntarily I raised an arm to shield my eyes. Slowly my eyes got accustomed and I beheld her standing in a corner. She always had a duplicate key to my apartment and it was foolish to say that I had not expected her. I had secretly hoped that she would come to me, yet again.

She stood in a corner decked in bridal garments puffing her custom made cigar. She always had a taste for luxury. A wicked smile played on her lips.

“You hate me don’t you?” she said.

I looked at her. The truth was I didn’t hate her, I never hated her. I had loved her with every particle of my being. But it was also true that she had inflicted immeasurable pain on me. We had an on and off relationship. She kept running away from me and when I would try to move on she would come back, hurt and bleeding inside. I looked long and hard at her. She knew what I thought. At length I said “No I don’t hate you.”

Her features softened with the familiar smile. She was beautiful.

“You wanted me to come here. Didn’t you?” she said.

“No” I replied rather firmly. Her face clouded. She never liked being contradicted. I snatched flashes of anger on her face. But she calmed down, something which did not happen often.

“But you don’t hate me!” It was amazing to see that she of all people could derive such simple conclusions.

“Hate is a big word, cherry, and a heavier feeling. I can’t hate you because hating you would mean having some feeling for you. I can’t have feelings for you, I don’t have feeling for you. I am indifferent to you. Where you are, who are you with, you love me or not, it no longer affects me.”

Her face darkened. I had always been her recluse, someone she kept coming back to when her own world betrayed her. She did not say a word and kept taking puffs from her cigarette. Slowly her tender figure got enveloped in dense cloud of smoke. I kept looking at her impassively. Soon the whole apartment was filled with smoke. I slowly got up from my chair and moved towards the small window. I opened it and a gush of chilly winter air entered. I looked down the street, a few cars were still running like rodents. I turned around to ask her if she wanted to put up here for the night, but she was not there nor was the smoke. She had vanished, like always.





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