For Roark, for being my most talented writer friend and calling me a writer’s writer and basically being awesome.
I’m exhausted as I unlock the door and walk in to my apartment. I know my mascara’s smeared and my hair’s come undone and I probably look like a fucking mess. I feel like a fucking mess.
I almost step on a box placed on the floor. Out of place. It’s black, gold engraving on the centre of the lid and a little note dangling from a ribbon, tied around the box.
I already know what it is.
I can just feel the tears rushing to my eyes. I’m going to break down and weep like a child.
I take the lid off the box. They’re roses. Young, fresh blooms. Dark, perfect crimson red roses. Twelve of them.
I read the note. Seven months. I love you, princess.
Tears pour down my eyes but I’m not sad. I’m deliriously happy, overwhelmed with emotions I cannot contain. And I cannot help but turn red. Crimson red like the roses. Like I always do, each time he calls me princess. I’m overcome by shyness. It’s silly, I’m a 24-year-old woman, I think I’m too old to be still called princess but I like it nevertheless. I guess he knows. Or maybe he just likes how I react. He tells me often that he likes my easy, honest smile. He’s 34, an older man. Wise and kind. Perfectly groomed salt and pepper beard. I guess he does baby me a lot and I guess I enjoy it. Princess. But it’s not always like this. Sometimes I’m the one taking care of him. And I like that too.
I remember the day after he lost his mother. We flew down to Delhi, where he grew up. One year into knowing each other and three months into dating. The funeral was a quiet affair. Just three other people with us. His childhood best friend, his uncle and a priest who guided him through the rites. He never speaks of his father. I just know that he was raised by his mother alone. He didn’t utter a single word, looked straight at the burning pyre. I couldn’t have possibly fathomed what he was going through. My heart was breaking but I had to be strong for him. So I held onto his arm and hoped he could read my mind. I’m here for you, mi amor. You’re going to be okay and I’m not going to leave your side.
Once we got back to the apartment he plopped onto the couch and mindlessly flipped through TV channels. Still couldn’t possibly fathom what he was going through. So I made us both coffee, set it on the table and sat beside him. He didn’t say anything for a while, didn’t move. And then he leaned in, put his head on my neck. I put my arms around him. I then felt the tears.
My heart broke.
I held him closer, tight. He was starting to shake. I miss her, Kaya. I miss her so much. Words failed me. So I continued to hold him close to me, I didn’t want to let go. I wished with all my heart that he would stop being in so much pain. I couldn’t take it. But I stayed strong. For Armaan, I stayed strong. And I held him until he fell asleep.
He was considerably better after he woke up. We didn’t speak much. But while boarding the flight back to Bangalore, he suddenly turned to me and squeezed my palm. Thank you. Weak smile. I couldn’t say anything. I put my arms around him. He kissed my forehead, and we boarded the airplane.
And that’s really when I knew that I loved him. All of him. I loved how his eyes would crinkle when he’d smile at something I’d say. I loved how patient he was with me, how he’d baby me most of the time but take me seriously when the situation would demand it. I loved how thoughtful he was, the warmth of his hugs and how gentle he was with me. I loved how he still did corny teenager things like sending good morning texts and kissing me goodnight over the phone when I couldn’t spend the night with him. I also loved how despite being the mature, calm and wise older man he was most of the time, there was also a reckless, fun, wild side to him, which basically surfaced every now and then, especially when he’d close deals at work, where it’d be my turn to be the mature, responsible adult with my hyper, happy, enthusiastic bundle of a boyfriend.
God, I loved this man.
I knew what I had to do. I book an Uber and take a long cab journey to his workplace. I call him. He comes down and walks towards me, he’s in a suit, his face beaming with the widest, most adorable grin. My face is red and puffy from all the crying but I’m also smiling wide and I cannot begin to imagine how fucking weird I must look with all of that and the undone hair and the ruined mascara and I’m mentally cursing myself for not having fixed my face but I’m also just so relieved he’s here. Right here. My thoughtful, kind boyfriend. I throw my arms around him.
Thank you. I love you. I absolutely love you Armaan. I’ve had the shittiest day ever at work today, the very worst and I was feeling so absolutely low. And then the flowers and the note. And you remembered the seven months. And god babe, I love you. I love you so fucking much.
I can barely talk, the tears are back. He laughs and lifts me up. I squeal.
My day just got a whole lot better.