Masquer


He looks like a child when he sleeps. Eyes shut tight, his chest rising and falling slowly, the quiet in our room punctuated only with the soft sound of his breathing, the sheets twisted over his body haphazardly, right leg sticking out at an awkward angle.

I sit up and watch him. I watch him and I fight the urge to take his head in my lap and kiss his forehead. He has an unbelievably large head. Full of curly brown hair. The same head that was nestled in the crook of my neck only a few hours ago, kissing me, whispering my name over and over.

He’s eleven years older. He’s French. He’s a professor of French and Roman Philosophy at NYU. I mentally list the things I know about him. The things I like about him. Maybe love.

It looks like he is dreaming. Or maybe I hope he is dreaming. About me. About the past few days. About the je t’aime I was tracing on his back last night, half-hoping he wouldn’t notice, and half-hoping he would.

I wonder what it would be like if I could read his thoughts? What would it be like if we could all read each other’s thoughts? All our little emotions, hopes, fears, dreams laid bare for everyone to see. I feel so alone, I haven’t had sex in so long, I hope I get accepted into Juillard, I can’t make rent this month, I desperately need a hit, I wish my parents were proud of me, I wish I had worked harder, I really need a job, I really love her, but how do I say it, I don’t love him, how do I end it, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to live… Millions, billions of thoughts. And we could read each one of them. No lies. No masks.

I take one side of the blanket and tuck it beneath his unruly leg. That seems to wake him up. He opens his eyes, finds me looking right into them, and smiles. Bonjour, he says.

Were you dreaming about something? I ask.

Non. Get ready. I am going to be late for class.

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A hand at fiction.


I don’t know where this is coming from. It’s just something I started writing, and kept writing. Read on.

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Definition. An architectural style is a named collection of architectural design decisions that (1) are applicable in a given development context, (2) constrain architectural design decisions that are specific to a particular system within that context, and (3) elicit beneficial qualities in each resulting system.

Wait… what? An architectural style. Named collection of architectural design decisions. Okay. Named collection. Design decisions. Okay. That are applicable in a given development context. Hmm. Applicable. Given development context. Fuck, this is so goddamn boring. Anyway. And constrain architectural …damn, this is a long word… decisions that are speci-

Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding 

The doorbell went off. Once. A five second pause. Then again. Incessantly. I wasn’t going to get it. I was studying, wasn’t I?

“Arvinda! Open the door! Have you gone deaf?” yelled Amma from inside the kitchen.

“I am STUDYING! I have my practicals in two days!”

“It must be Vineeta… Can’t even open the door. Useless.” muttered Amma, and rushed out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her orange cotton saree. ‘Yoos-less’ she muttered once more, as she opened the door, her frown quickly turning into a smile on seeing my precious elder sister.

“HULLO!” says Vineeta, bounding inside, grinning from ear to ear, flashing her inked middle finger, hugging mum like she’d been away for a month. She was always like this. Hyper. Too excited, too worked up over little things. Fine, you voted for the first time. So what? What’s there to hug and kiss about?

“See! Seee!” Vineeta’s showing her middle finger to Amma, a thick blue line at the top, some of it on her expensively-manicured yellow nail (Who puts yellow nail polish? Weirdo).

Sick. I pick up my phone, log into Facebook, just to avoid looking at the stupid scene before me. I scroll down my Timeline mindlessly, before, argh- her selfie with the same stupid finger. But, of course. ‘Did my bit! #GotInked’ she captioned it. I looked at her photo. Thick, curly, messy hair. Pink, flushed cheeks, high cheekbones. Perfect eyebrows. Fair. I guess she was pretty. Definitely pretty by Nayar family standards. Especially pretty by loser-engineering-student-brother standards. Add a high-paying job at Microsoft to all that prettiness and what you get is gushing, super-proud parents. Proud of her, by the way. And tired of me.

I was in my second year at Fr. Agnel. Struggling through Computer Engineering. I hated it. Hated the courses, the teachers, even the overachievers I never talked to in my class. There is only so much you can mug up. And there is only so much of ‘Look at your Akka!’ that you can take from your parents. She had been a topper in her college. A comps person, same as me. And I used to console myself thinking, ‘Eh. So she can mug up stuff real nice. Big deal. That doesn’t prove she’s smart.’ Until she went and got placed at Microsoft. Bitch.

“Where’s Dad? Hiya Arvinda! You didn’t vote, did you?” she taunts me, tousling my hair like I was a 6-year-old. No, I didn’t vote. I didn’t get into the whole Modi-Kejriwal-Rahul-Gandhi hype. I didn’t care. The BJP isn’t going to help me get through my vivas day-after-tomorrow. Neither is AAP, or the Congress.

“No, I didn’t. Now stop showing off so much” I tell her. She sticks her tongue out and gets her dumb iPhone out. She bought that with her own salary, my parents tell every relative who is willing (or unwilling, for that matter) to listen.

Bzzz. My sad nine-grand phone buzzes.

Whatsapp from Tanvi: Did you vote, loser? I just did!

 No I didn’t, bitch. Go study for the vivas. 

Fuck them. Let’s go get drunk. I am in a good mood! 

Coz you voted? Sheesh.  

Uhh. Yeah? 

I gotta study. Bye. 

Why so serious? 

Sick of sister who just voted. Kinda sad coz I wish I had too. 

I told you! Didn’t I tell you to get off your ass and apply for a Voter’s card? I told you! Now be sad. 

Whatever. It’ll pass. Have to study. Later. 

Of course it’ll pass. Who has the time to think about elections? I have bigger problems.

And constrain architectural decisions that are specific to a particular system within that context. Decisions. Particular system within that context. Particular system. Context.

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