Usually, anyone drunk up to nostrils floats in a sea of trance, but the night changed its plans. Pee, comes flooding when someone least anticipates it, doesn’t it? I nudge Shrey, feeling a little sorry for having broken his slumber but then we have lived our lives this way ever since we met this world. Not once has either of us whined about being dependent on each other for any matter; be it silly or serious. That’s my shy introvert brother, Shrey, my half and I shall be there for him come what may. “Finish it quick, Dipshit. I want to sleep a wink.” He curses in sleepy whispers. Just when we throw ourselves on the bed again, a flickering glimmer of light feeds my hazy gaze. It could’ve been the watchman mom had appointed who was taking night rounds but then I hadn’t failed to remember he was on leave tonight. He hadn’t opened the gate for as our car pulled through, either. “Shrey, just a minute more,” I mumble, as we tiptoe toward the window draped by netted sky-blue curtains. I stare out, hunting for the source of the moving light but my ears burn. I hear someone cry as the torch travels down the pipeline. “There’s a burglar, climbing down the pipelines. Shrey, can you hear him sob?” I muttered under my breath as we run down the stairs in unison, fleeing our way into the lawn backyard. He’s left and there’s no light twinkling anymore. Mom has already had enough to know of this fiasco which is why we choose to sneak back into our bedroom, tightlipped. “Swayam, tell you what?”, asks Shrey, pulling over the blanket. “If it were a burglar, he would have been cautious enough to let no sound escape. But we could hear him cry.” “Shit yes. It could as well have been a she” I say, my forehead crinkled. “It wasn’t exactly too masculine a cry, nor feminine. Who could it be with a mixed voice? Plain who?” Even before further thoughts could cross my mind, alcohol arrests me in its clutches and pulls me into a deep sleep. But who was it? With the voice of both a man and a woman?
A WEEK LATER:
CITY CENTRE MALL, MANGALORE:
“Dead for today. Such a tedious day, man. A big day tomorrow. To introduce our dream project to the bunch of MNC’s that’ll gather. Bye, Asif. See you tomorrow.” Shrey drops his phone, heaving a sigh. Oh, I haven’t told you all about our profession other than my name, have I? We work at Aslaris Ltd. as app developers. In the mall, there still are a couple of eyes fixed at us, astonishment gleaming in them. Not every day do you get to see conjoint twins, after all. Without giving a fuck about the agape crowd, as we rise to collect while our order number flashes, Shrey pauses, his face slipping a smirk. “Swayam, perhaps, stars are in your favor.” As I survey his meek grin, I spot the same girl who had morphed from a rose-tinted bespectacled nerd into a hot medical student, who even the long-dead and rotten corpses in her hospital could drool over. Oh, yes, Avni, I faintly remember from last week. She takes hasty steps, her peach-brown sandals uneasily thudding against the slippery floor, as the food in her tray spills out. We get back to our table, having collected our Coke and Barbeque pizza. Avni has sat good five tables above us, her hands now tightly clutched by a guy who has a piercing at his left brow and a tattoo inked on the neck, of a Dragon puking fireballs. Minutes later, as we study the heated scenario, the clutch tightens and her cheeks turn hot pink, silent plea slipping through her lips. We can trace her eyes water, but no lone tear graces her cheeks. The guy now thrusts a phone, which Shrey identifies as iPhone 7, in her face, uttering words nobody seems to give ears to. “YOU KNOW WHAT, NICKY? JUST FUCK OFF.” Screaming, Avni rises from her seat, the streaming tears having smudged the kohl and disappears in the packed escalator.
KAVERI RAI RESIDENCY, JYOTI:
Waves of sleep refuse to wash me over, in spite of a tiresome day at work. My fingers run over the flashy screen of my phone, gambling between the options of pinging her and choosing not to appear nosy. “Well, if you do care about her, then there’s no harm asking if she’s fine, Bro,” Shrey says as he is neck-deep in the presentation but I could see the other tabs open as well. WordPress. A half-written entry of a poetry sat unposted on his blog. Out of interest, I would carelessly have thrown it a look and tried deciphering who it was about, had Avni not invaded my mind. “Care? Bro, I barely know her. Why would you think I care for her?” I try to adopt a Devil-May-Care tone but my brother has studied me all too well than anybody else. “If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be treading on eggshells like this.” His eyes shift from the poetry on the WordPress tab to Avni’s inbox that was open on my phone. Maybe, he was right. What’s wrong with just shooting a Hey-Are-You-Alright anyway? ‘Hey, Avni! Swayam Rai here. I and Shrey happened to spot you in the evening. You looked bothered. Are you fine? Just asking.’ I hit send. I couldn’t believe it, my extrovert nature had melted down in a fraction of a second when her name kept resonating in my head. Where was the cool I’m-ready-to-chat-with-every-chic Swayam when it came down to Avni Rajput? Why were my inner-mini me’s blushing so hard that they must’ve matched the color of the roses that bedecked mom’s cabin’s vase? Now I just hope I get no irksome reply that could put my male-esteem to utter shame. Trying not to overthink it, I force my eyes on Shrey’s laptop screen meddled with numerous tabs. ‘Your tears whisper the untold tales, But won’t you….’ I randomly try reading it before my phone beeps a text notification. It’s Avni. Yes, it’s her. Wait, Swayam, don’t overdo it. Just text her like you ain’t really exultant. Remember, attitude, Swayam Rai, attitude.