Smells Like You

So I drown it out like I always do,
Dancing through our house with the ghost of you.

-Ghost Of You, 5 Seconds of Summer

Sometimes in the morning, when I wake up, alone and cold in my bed, I wish you were here.
Next to me.
Warm and Comfy.
Smelling like home.

Sometimes after a tiring day at work, when my head hurts, I wish you were here.
Next to me.
With a cup of coffee and hugs.
Smelling like love.

Sometimes at dinner, when I order take out, I wish you were here.
Next to me.
With a smile and puppy eyes.
Smelling like the ocean.

Sometimes in the evening, when I am strolling alone, I wish you were here.
Next to me.
With a bottle of water and singing loudly.
Smelling like happiness.

Sometimes after a happening day, I wish you were here.
Next to me.
With a wonderous laugh and excitable mind.
Smelling like cotton candy.

Sometimes on a lazy Sunday, I wish you were here.
Next to me.
With a blanket and a lap.
Smelling like comfort.

Sometimes, late at night, when I can’t sleep, I wish you were here.
Next to me.
With soothing music and a book.
Smelling like cigarettes.

But you aren’t here.
You aren’t next to me.
It smells like despair and heartbreak.

To the never meant to be

Oh baby girl,
Don’t get caught
On my edges,
I’m the king
of everything
And oh,
My tongue is a weapon.

– Halsey, Young God

I remember the moment you first looked at me and I remember the moment your eyes met mine for the last time. From curiosity to apathy, we travelled a long distance. You were my ‘fantasy’. My version of dancing with the fire. You made my heart lift and lit it on fire. You made it dance but you were also the reason it drowned.
And I couldn’t help but indulge in you.

I still remember the day I first met you. In a white shirt and blue jeans, you looked like innocence personified, until you put your leather jacket on. You were just the right kind of dangerous. I’ll define you as sweet but spicy. You came up to me, smiled that crooked smile of yours, and said “hey”. I never knew a small monosyllable word could have that effect on me. Your voice was gruff, deep and full of melancholy. Your eyes were deep brown like black holes and I got lost in them.

You made me want to lose myself and be you instead. And thus started our secret rendezvous. No one knew about us. Our passion was the forbidden fruit of our desire, and maybe that’s what made it more compelling.

On our first date, you took me to the planetarium. You booked the hall, turned on the projector and we had dinner under the stars. We snuck into the community pool, way past midnight, high on life.

That was the day you told me that you don’t “love”. You told me that you liked to play with hearts. But I was too lost in the excitement, in the pleasure you provided me, to care about anything. I didn’t care. I wanted you as you were. I believed that you will change for me. Books, movies and songs had me believing that people like you could change.

We were fire together. But we burnt through everything. Leaving us with a dark hole, leaving us in the ashes of who we used to be.
I remember the fights. I remember the passion. I remember how we broke things off. How you left me in the middle of nowhere. And I remember how I trashed your cars afterwards.

We went out like a firecracker. Beautifully but quickly.

In the end, you held true to your words.
You don’t love, you play.


In the dark, we are black and white
In the morning, colourblind

– 5 Seconds of Summer, Not in the Same Way

It’s hard here. People say this is where dreams come to die. But this is where my dream originated. My dream of you and I. My heart still resides on the last shelf of the book store where our hands touched, accidentally. Where I felt alive for the first time. Where I met you. Both of us were reaching for a Dickens while hiding a bestseller. Appearance mattered more than choice. I am glad they did, at that moment. They bought me to you. My own bestseller.

The world consisted of just you and I whenever we met. We hid each other from the world. We hid together from the world. Those late mornings with lavish breakfasts of coffees, apples and pancakes are still imprinted in my brain.

They tell me to write about anything but love. So I’ll write about you. I’ll write about chaos, despair and heartbreak. And something. That existed once upon a time. Something that is not love. Something that is deeper and greater. But something like that, something so pure couldn’t last in this world.
Forces had been deployed to destroy it even before it existed.

The same thing that brought us together pulled us apart. Appearances. I didn’t look good on your life sheet, and that mattered to you. You weren’t good on mine either, but it didn’t matter to me. Wait. Who am I kidding? You are gone now. I can accept it. Appearances do matter.

You decided to hide me from the world, just as I did. Initially, it was fun. The two of us hidden away, in our own world, lost in the place of once upon a time-s and happily ever after-s. I was yours, completely, but eventually, I realised that you were never mine, never would be. You see appearances do matter. And that, admittedly, was the end of my world. Of our world. It was the point at which I realised that you were embarrassed of me.
Because even though we were each other’s bestseller, you weren’t ready to leave the Dickens behind.

Let Go

But who am I supposed to talk to?
What am I supposed to do?
If there is no you…

-Taylor Swift (Soon You’ll Get Better)

“They say souls are made of stardust. We are made of stardust. You see those stars, that you love a lot? They are a part of you. They are you. So why don’t you love yourself? Why don’t you look at yourself with the same amazement as you look at the stars? You look at the stars when you are lost, begging for a way, a signal. Why don’t you look inside yourself for that sign, for the way?”

“You do know that stars die right? That’s where stardust comes from. Spontaneous Combustion.”

“Why don’t you ever just let me be philosophical? Do you have to bring in your reasoning every time?

“Well, I am not stopping you from being philosophical. I just want you to be correct. At least in what we know.”

“Why don’t you love me?”

“I thought we had decided not to ask that anymore?”

“But it’s “logical”. You love logic so much. So hear me out. We’ll be perfect together. We are so good together. You like what I like. We drink the same kind of coffee. like the same music. Read the same books…”

“Let me interrupt you there, having similar interests doesn’t mean being compatible. Yeah some common interests are needed, but if we like the same things all the time we won’t argue. We won’t compromise. We won’t discover anything new. We’d be stuck in the same rut. With the same song. Same book. Boring the hell out of each other with nothing to talk about.”

“You are the first girl I have met who wants arguments in relationships.”

“Well, it’s necessary. That’s how we evolve, no?”

“I don’t know all that. All I know is that I really like you. I like spending time with you. I love talking to you, telling you about my day ‘arguing’ with you.”

“You love who I am to you. You don’t love me. You love this idea of me that you have created in your head. You don’t love me. You need to find someone else. It’s not good to hold on to me.”

“But you are perfect. Where will I find someone like you…?”

“I am perfect because you made me up. Go out. Meet new people. Talk to them. You’ll find someone. Someone real. Who doesn’t live in your imagination. You need to let me go.”

“But I can’t do that. Because if I let you go then I’ll be giving up on you again. You’d still be here with me if I hadn’t…”

He waited for her reply. A reply which never came.

“I know I need to let you go. I just don’t know who I’ll be without you. It’s been 6 years, 6 years, that I spent repenting giving up on you. Maybe, just maybe if I had picked up that call, you would still be here with me. But I promise you, I won’t give up on you again. How could you ever imagine that I’d be better of without you? There is no me without you. I am you and you are… were me. I ended with you. But I’ll go around, out in the crowd again, pretending to believe that I’ll find you somewhere again.. And listen to me, if I, by chance, do find you… I am never letting you go. You can’t make me.”

He looked at the stone in front of him with tears glistening in his eyes. He removed the dried up flowers and put fresh lilies in the bottle by her grave. Kissed it, got up and left.

“I won’t let you go again.”


“My demons are begging me to open up my mouth. I need them, mechanically make the words come out.”

– Halsey, Hold me Down

There is often an impending sense of gloom. We don’t know what’s wrong, just that something is. Something doesn’t feel right. In these moments how do you keep yourself from spiraling. Spiraling down the drain to the point of no return. A place where there is no one, but you and your demons.

They (demons) welcome you with open arms. And you can’t help but given in to them. You’ll take any form of comfort you can get. From anyone you can get. Even them. And so they pull you down. Into a void with them. They pull you down, till you are out of reach. Nothing can help you, but you now. But you are exhausted and you find them comforting. They are there for you when no one else is and you aren’t sure anymore, about whether you want them to leave.

Slowly, they become your identity, they become who you are. They are your second skin. You don’t feel yourself without them. You wonder if it’s wrong to feel this way. You wonder if you should leave. But you are too deep, too lost. And you accept that. You accept it to be your home. You accept them as your home.

when it was beautiful

“No body said it was easy. No one ever said it would be so hard.”

– The Scientist, Coldplay

You ask me if you can call, yet again.
And I give a stupid excuse, yet again.
The truth is I don’t wanna talk anymore.
Things have changed.
I have changed.

You text an “okay” back. Trying to be an understanding boyfriend, wondering what went wrong. Why are we back here again?
Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you are so lost in your world of denial that you don’t even notice me fading away.

You text me again, asking how my day was. I send a bland reply and a “I am sleepy.” Just to avoid talking. You send an “okay” again. The oh-so understanding boyfriend.

You ask me out. On a date. Two of us. Anything I want. I realize that you must be getting desperate. You never are the first one to make a plan. I send a small text- “Sorry can’t busy.’ Not even a full sentence. Even though all I plan to do, all day, is sleep. You send an “okay” again.

That’s what it is now-a-days. A series of ‘okays’ and ‘alrights’. Its getting tiring. To be honest, sometimes I just want you to fight with me. Give me a reason, an excuse anything.

Why are we torturing ourselves? You wonder. You wonder if you should just end it. I wonder that too.
But then we both text a “hi”. Unable to say goodbye. So we do what we always do. We hang onto the branches of a tree that is never going to last.
We hang on to false hope as if our lives depend on it.
Wishing to go back to when it was beautiful.


“And the tears come streaming down your face, when you lose something you can’t replace, when you love someone, but it goes to waste, Could it be worse?”

-Coldplay, (Fix You)

I like the days I wake up before him. Watching him sleep is the highlight of my day sometimes. He drools a bit. And he talks. He talks in his sleep. His brown wavy hair all over his face, instead of being perfectly styled. He looks so adorable. I, sometimes, wish to pause time, in that moment, forever.

It was one of those days. He was still asleep. Wrapped in white sheets, he looked like heaven, if heaven was to be personified. I lied down with my face next to his, taking in his details. He has long lashes, beautiful long lashes, that flutter every few minutes. A few freckles are sprinkled on his nose and cheeks, barely noticeable. A stray stand of hair fell across his face, almost to his nose. His thin pink lips opened and closed. His chest rising with every breath. I always found the sound of breath comforting. Especially his. I snuggled in close to him. His heart beating is the best sound I have ever heard. It’s like music to my ears. I can listen to it for forever. As I lied with my ear to his chest, My heart and breath synced to his. This was another thing I liked. It made me feel like him and I, we, were the same. 15 minutes later, I reluctantly pulled myself away from him. I had a long day ahead. A lot of meetings. Long hot showers were the secret of my ability to hold on.

When I came out, he wasn’t in bed anymore, but the sweet aroma of coffee and pancakes pulled me into the kitchen, where he was, standing in his boxers, with an apron on. There is something about a man cooking that makes me swoon.
He handed me my coffee and placed two pancakes, loaded with syrup, in front of me. I pecked him on the lips and dived into my food. With the syrup dribbling down my chin, I grinned at him like a kid. I told him that they were delicious. And he laughed saying he guessed that.
It was a happy morning. I never could have guessed that the day would end with one of us gone.

That that was the last day I would ever see him. If I had known that we would never meet again, I would have never left. We could have stayed together in bed, for eternity. But I did leave. I had no reason not to. And a lot of reasons to.

Little did I know that that would be our last day together. Little did I know that when I left, I would never return.
For you see it was 26/11/2008. And my meeting was at Taj Hotel, Mumbai.
I never felt the blast. All I knew was that something had happened and I was bleeding. And then I saw my body lying on the floor. I wasn’t in it anymore. It still horrifies me when I think back to my mangled body.

He was devastated but I couldn’t reach him. I couldn’t tell him that it was alright. I didn’t feel anything. I couldn’t tell him how much I loved him. I couldn’t comfort him. I could never sync my heart to his again, because mine had stopped beating and his was never the same again.
I saw him but I couldn’t touch him. He couldn’t see me. They didn’t show him my body. The only thing they did right.

I still haunt this city. His house and the hotel. Trying to find a reason as to why we were separated so soon.

I had a secret for him that day. Something that would have made him so very happy. But I guess it’s better this way. At least he mourns for one soul now, instead of two.

Since you’ve been gone

Sorry if it’s hard to catch my vibe, I need a lover to trust, tell me you are on my side. Are you down for the ride?

-Khalid (Love Lies)

It’s been 5 days since you’ve been gone. Since you left me. The comforter still smells like you. I sleep on your side, hugging your pillow. That’s the only way I get myself to sleep.

It’s been 10 days since you’ve been gone. Your smell has started to fade from the comforter. It no longer fulfils it’s purpose. It no longer offers me comfort. My sleep’s fading too.

It’s been 15 days since you’ve been gone. I don’t sleep anymore. I spend my time haunting the halls of this apartment, that we once shared.
I go from the kitchen, where you cooked while I worked on my latest project, to the living room,where we lounged, with my head in your lap, as we watched some stupid movie. We used to be so lost in each other, that we weren’t even aware of the world moving around us.

It’s been 20 days since you’ve been gone. I went out for coffee today and to buy groceries. Why doesn’t life stop when we are mourning? doesn’t it know that you left me for her?
I filled my basket with the stuff you liked, the stuff you ate. And when I realised that I could hardly hold myself together. Needless to say, I didn’t by anything.

It’s been 25 days since you’ve been gone. Lisa is forcing me to go see a movie today. She told me that I couldn’t put my life on hold for you. You didn’t do it for me, after all. She doesn’t understand that when you left, a part of me left with you. And I am still grieving over that part of me and the whole of you.
She is forcing me to dress up. Making me change out of the sweat pants I have been living in. She said that she had arranged for a date for me.
I don’t want whatever guy owes her a favour. I want you. But frankly who’d want me? You didn’t You made that clear before you left.

It’s been 26 days since you’ve been gone. I actually had fun at the date last night. I didn’t think bout how you would have scrunched up your nose when I would have ordered a large coke, but taken a sip or two from mine anyway. I didn’t think about how you would have just bought a bottle of water repeating over and over that you didn’t need to fill your body with this junk but still ate all my popcorn. Instead I focused on Jack. That was the name of the guy who owed Lisa a favour. He admitted that out loud to me. At the end of the night, when we were walking home, he admitted to me that the only reason he came was because he owed Lisa a favour. I told him that I guessed that much. But then he said something, something that changed everything. He leant in and whispered, “But I am glad that I did.” I was glad I came too. Because instead of telling me off for buying coke and popcorn, he bought two large cokes and a tub of popcorn. Extra butter. And he wouldn’t let me pay. He grinned and his eyes sparkled as he said,” This way you owe me a date.” He has brown eyes by the way. Warm brown eyes that sparkles when he talks. Unlike your icy blue ones, that turned grey when you looked at me with despair, which was often.
So really it’s day 1 since I met him. And we are going to the art exhibition today. The one that I have been wanting to see for quite a while, but was embarrassed to go alone. The one you found to be boring. And tomorrow we’ll go nout for dinner and maybe watch another movie. Or maybe we’ll just stay in and talk. I don’t know it’s just been a day.

It’s been 2 months and 25 days since you’ve been gone. And 2 months since I met him. I am better now. I breathe more freely. We stay up late just talking. You and I, we never did that. And he listens, actually listens to me. And he tells me things too. He doesn’t fin weird to express feeling every once in a while. Like you did. He doesn’t berate me when I express my emotions, instead he tells me that it’s okay to feel. It’s okay to feel how ever I want whenever I want. We go out on dates every Saturday. Someplace new. You never liked date nights because “they were just a waste of time.” But he tells me that it’s worth it. He tells me that I am worth it. That seeing me all dressed up and happy makes it all worthwhile.

It’s been 1 year and 25 days since you’ve been gone. And 1 year since I met him. Our first anniversary. We went to the amusement park. You never took me their. No matter how much I wanted to. It was too childish for you. He bought me candy floss and corncob. We went on all the ride. Every single one. I love him in a way that I never loved you. He loves me in a way you never loved me. He tells me how much he loves me everyday. Even when I am sick or PMSing. He is always there. To support me. To love me. I think he might be the one.

It’s been 2 years 25 days since you’ve been gone. And 2 years since I met him. We went to the Caribbean for our 2nd Anniversary together. And guess what? He proposed! It was perfect. Just like I dreamt. On the beach in the moonlight. Down on one knee. A private event. No audience. Just the two of us and the stars as witness. And I said yes. There was no doubt in my mind about committing to someone for life. He makes me happy. And I can live with that forever. We had a candle light dinner after that on the beach.

It’s been 2 years 6 months and 25 days since you’ve been gone. and 2 years 6 months since I met him. We got married today. You didn’t come. Even though I sent an invite. But that’s alright. I have moved on. I am with Jack now. We are going to move to Chicago and build ourselves a nice little family. But we are going to hold onto the little moments and keep having our little dates even when we are 95. I love him. And he loves me. And now I know why you left. If you hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been here. If you hadn’t, I would have still been living a lie. Always trying to please you.
And yeah the comforter now smells of him. And I can tell you, honestly, that they comfort me more than you ever did.

An Ode to the unborn

‘Cause You were just a small bump unborn for four months then torn from life. Maybe you were needed up there but we’re still unaware as why.

Ed Sheeran, (Small Bump)

The day I found out about your existence was the best day of my life. You mother, she was glowing with happiness. The love of my life was going to have my child, I was so happy. You were about a month old then. We could see just a small blob on the screen, but I was in love with that blob. It was mine and hers. It was our.

Soon you started to grow. We could see little feet and hands. Your mother started to grow too. Physically and emotionally. Her belly was growing. We could see you now, as a small bump on her body. And I loved talking to you through her. Did you hear me? Could you?

The first time I heard your heartbeat, my heart stopped. I was filled with amazement and love. I was overflowing with it. “We made that,” was all that was running in my mind and I’ll admit to you I cried a bit. It was the best noise I’ve ever heard. The best music. I made them record it, so I could listen to it again and again. I still listen to it sometime.

We painted your nursery when you were just three months old. And we had so much fun doing it, you know… We painted it yellow and put in pink and blue furniture. We even bought a crib, the best one available. And jumpsuits! We could never agree on one so we bought them all. So small and cute. We bought toys too. So many that it was gonna be difficult to buy anything for your birthday. We bought every single toy in the market in four months.

Your mother started putting headphones on her belly and playing her favourite songs. “So that the baby would grow up with a good taste in music.” That was what she told everyone. I talked to you every night. We sang you lullabies. We were so in love with you.

But then something happened. Your mother woke up in a lot of pain. She was bleeding. There was so much blood. I didn’t know what to do. I rushed her to the hospital. You were gonna be 5 months old next week. Just a few weeks and you would have been here in the world with us.

They had her in surgery for hours. They wouldn’t tell me anything. I couldn’t help but keep asking about the two of you. I prayed, I begged, I bargained. I did everything I could. My mind kept rushing to the worst scenarios. I could not loose both my loves in one night.

They came to me at 6 in the morning. 15 minutes and 4 hours after I brought the two of you to the hospital. They told me she had had a miscarriage. They told me you were gone but she was alive. It was a miracle that they could save her. They said they were sorry for my loss, but I was lucky that she was still alive. They said sorry and lucky in the same sentence. They told me that she was sleeping and didn’t know yet. They wanted me to tell her. That you weren’t with us anymore. That you were in a better place now. They wanted me to tell her that we would have to remove the nursery. They wanted me to tell her that she could never have a baby again. Never be a mother again.

I was broken. And she was critical. She woke up 30 minutes and 6 hours after. She was destroyed at the news. Her eyes glimmering with tears she was too weak to shed. You see, I would have learnt to be a good father to you but she, she was already the best mother in the world.

Days after, she roamed the house reminiscing your presence in her life. In just four months you had changed us both. We were parents without a baby.

2 months later we got a call. The hospital called to say that a baby had been born, motherless. The mother had died in a car accident. The baby was lucky to have survived. Again sorry and lucky in the same sentence. They were wondering if we wanted to adopt it. It was a girl. I told your mother. Asked her. In the two months since you left, I had never seen her move so fast. She wanted that baby.

We officially adopted her three days later. We named her Grace. We were going to name you Holly, if you’d been a girl and Drew if you’d been a boy.

Your sister is 7 days 3 months old now. She is an angel. Grace. We’ll always miss you though. But thank you for sending Grace to us. I hope her mother is looking after you too.

We’ll always love you. And your sister. No one can replace you in our hearts. But Grace has lessened the pain of losing you.
I just hope that you are happy, wherever you are. Our little guardian angel.


If it Made Her happy

You’re my Downfall. You’re my muse. My worst distraction. My Rhythm and Blues.

– John Legend (All of Me)

She was insanely happy that day. I hadn’t seen her like that for days. Rather months. She was flying. Literally and figuratively on cloud nine. She sat down in front of me. Smiled at the waitress and ordered her usual. Coffee with cream, no sugar. And a piece of chocolate cake. The one she orders when she is ecstatic. That’s how I knew.

She turned towards me and her cheeks flushed. My heart sank. I was now sure that something had happened. I could always tell things about her. I could predict her every move; by the way she smiled, by the way her eyes sparkled, by the way she moved; by her voice. It’s like I had a doctorate and my thesis was on her. I could tell by the sparkle in her eyes that their was someone new.

She was glowing that day but in a different way. A way I hadn’t seen before. Something inside me knew that even though she was so happy, her news was going to leave me devastated. But seeing her like that, I happily ignored my guts warning.

She looked at me her eyes screaming ” GUESS WHAT?” But she sat there poised, like a little lady waiting for my attention. And so I decided that I’ll bite. I asked her; and oh! how I wish I hadn’t.

She was floating because she was in love. Puppy love sure but love. My brain screamed at my heart “I TOLD YOU SO”, but it ( my heart ) was still so much in love that it didn’t care. She had a new crush. Years after him, she finally liked someone. I had helped her nurse the wounds hoping to be the knight in shining armour she had always wished for. But she never saw me in any other way than platonic. Sometimes I wonder if it is wrong of me to want her in a different way.

Anyway back to “him”…
She had met him through a mutual friend. They had come over to pick her up in his jaguar. Had to be a jaguar, her favourite car. She told me that she felt like a glee filled child when he opened the door and helped her in. He even closed the door after her.
“Who does that now a days?” she asked me, completely ignoring the fact that I held open every door for her since we met.
NO! I shouldn’t think like this. I do it out of love. I don’t seek any acknowledgement for my actions.

He drove fast. But she liked it. She liked his voice too. She liked that he was considerate. Why, you ask, she thought so? Because he took in consideration her choice of songs to in deciding what to play on the radio, which he blared throughout the ride. But no, at least he asked her. Wait he did offer her the front seat and closed the door behind her. Why doesn’t she understand that she is worth so much more?

Turns out that he was a mixture of everything she wanted in a guy and everything she considered wrong. He smoked. He drank. He drove under the influence. He drove while drinking! Why did she get in the car with him when he was drunk and still drinking? She knows better than that. I was going to tell her off when she interrupted me. She said it was all big NOs. But she wanted him. She wanted him to kiss her. She wanted to taste the beer in his kiss. Smell the smoke on him. She wanted to see what he tasted like.

She liked that he held doors open for her but didn’t make a big show of it. That he sat with his chair facing her, looking in her onyx eyes as she talked. She liked how he took care of their drunk friend, how he helped her in the car. How he didn’t take advantage of her inebriated state. I am appalled at the adoration a girl feels for a guy when he does something gentleman-ly. Something that is common courtesy. How far has the patriarchal society fallen, that a woman is enamoured by a guy who showed basic courtesy towards her and others.

She liked the touch of his hand on hers. It didn’t feel foreign. She smiled with dreamy eyes as she talked about him. He was her prince charming. At least for the time being, till he broke her heart again and I broke his arm.

I didn’t like the burn in my heart as she went on and on about him. She called it a stupid crush. But my mind cursed at me for letting our relationship reach a point where I played the role of her guy best friend. Where I had to listen to her drone about her latest crush and I had no option but to listen. No way to tell her how I truly felt. It was officially too late.

She said they sang together on the way back, out of tune sure, but together. She said in those few hours with him she felt more free than she had in her whole life. She felt like she was a part of the wind. She said I’ll understand it better when I felt that way for someone else. But I know how it feels. I have known how it feels for a long time. I just wish she felt it for me. With me.

As I stared at her animatedly describe the details of her date, her order arrived. She was a vision as her eyes brightened even more at the sight of food. She took a bite, dribbling a little chocolate from the side, and closed her eyes to savour the taste. When she opened them she had tears in her eyes. But before I could say anything, she held my hand in hers and thanked me for being her friend. For always being there for her. She said she didn’t know where she would be without me. And those words, that moment, made it all bearable. Made it all worthwhile. I knew that my heart would happily sit their listening about a million more crushes, if it made her happy.

Short stories by Manishika Pawaia