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One of the country's most famous women bloggers, Meenakshi has always been writing about life as a young, single woman in India. Refreshingly candid about her life and detailing everything from drinking and smoking to sexual escapades, she has won an audience that loves her bold style and can relate to her experiences.
Yesterday, we featured an extract from the first chapter of her new book, You Are Here. Presented below is an excerpt from Chapter 2:
I slept with Cheeto a few times before we were 'official'. I loved his curly hair underneath my fingers; I adored his pointy, elfin ears and worshipped his upturned nose. I was moulded to be with Cheeto, for the uphills of my body to match the downhills of his. Or at least so I thought at the time. Now? Now I don't know whether anyone is made for anyone else. At one point I used to believe in the one perfect soulmate, the one person you would be with all your life, the one who made your heart suddenly pirouette and fall gently, gently on one ankle, for the smashing finale because you finally realized that no one but this person could make your heart do all that. Yeah, well, not so any more. There's no such thing as the perfect person, only idiosyncrasies that cancel out other idiosyncrasies and that too for a brief, magical time that's bound to end.
When our sleeping together got too intense for me to handle I begged Cheeto for a 'label', anything, to keep me grounded. 'Cheeto, please tell me,' I said one day, just after we finished loving, and I was in one sock and desperately scrabbling beneath his bed for my bra, 'what are we? A fling? We couldn't be a fling, it's not as meaningless as that. A one-night stand? No, it's been more than one night. I mean, is this going anywhere?' He looked across at me, took my face in his slightly rough, warm hands and said, 'I think it's going to a very good place.' Then he kissed me and I forgot about labels for a while. After we'd straightened the bed and Chhotu, the guy who worked at his house, got us coffee and looked at me, hair rumpled, mouth pink, curiously, he (Cheeto, that is, not Chhotu) asked me whether I'd like to date him, whether I'd be his 'girlfriend'. I blushed and smiled and nodded, and that was that. We were official. This was before I realized that sometimes labels don't really mean anything. I mean, you could be someone's girlfriend and still have to vie for his attention all the time; you could see your boyfriend's name flashing on your cellphone and press the Silent button so you didn't have to talk to him. And just because you're having sex with someone, just because his eyes are looking into yours and later you're spooning, butt to crotch, his hands wandering up your arms, it doesn't mean that you're connected in any way except physically. Because, before you know it, he will sit up and say something that will have you looking at him with your head cocked to one side, wondering what exactly you're doing together.
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But screw it, enough about Cheeto. At this point in my life he was no longer in it. To be honest, though, his presence was in his absence. I saw him everywhere, in every place we had ever been to together. Like the McDonald's in Vasant Vihar where we landed up playing hooky from work and ate five plates of French fries, or the bar across the road from his old school where we both got very drunk and snuck into the grounds and tried to get into the bio lab. Delhi [Images] was a sea of Cheeto images for me, and as hard as I tried I couldn't erase them. Worse than that, I was drowning in them, being pulled under by a current, and I couldn't figure out where the other Arshi was, the Arshi who hadn't met Cheeto, the Arshi who was perfectly capable of living her own life, thankyouverymuch.
Fact is the objects of my affection have always been my idols. They can do no wrong. In school, whenever the boys I used to have crushes on got into trouble, I'd writhe for them. It happened often, because I always picked the boys who were most likely to get into trouble. I'd feel really embarrassed when the teacher ticked them off, so embarrassed that I wouldn't be able to talk to anyone for a while, even as the boys themselves grinned around at the class trying to show how cool and insouciant they were. Among the students, these boys were gods. The popular girls flicked their hair around when they were in the vicinity and allowed themselves to be teased; the other boys -- the 'good' ones -- shared their homework with them; and, like the gods they were, the boys I loved would bestow benefactorlike affection on everyone and lap up the adulation. I watched it all happen and yet my fascination for them refused to die down.
It had always been that way, even way back with the first boy I ever had a crush on. I think I was about eleven. Kon was eight years older than me, a friend of my then best friend's brother, and he was beautiful. I mean really beautiful, with high cheekbones and curly hair that almost reached his shoulders, and he was really fair, thanks to his Kashmiri blood, so in winter his cheeks would turn pink. Possibly the only flaw in his face was his smile -- he had fallen from a ledge as a child and one side of his mouth was slightly crooked. But this only served to emphasize the rest of his symmetry and it worked, that crooked smile, on whoever he chose to use it on. He played the guitar, too -- really well. Sometimes he'd play and sing in the park for all of us and the girls his age would draw closer and closer to him, almost hypnotized, till they could rub their cheeks against his rough denim jeans.
I loved Kon. When he spoke to me, I swooned. I took to hanging around my friend's place a lot more just to see if I could get a glimpse of him. She knew how I felt about him, and she sympathized, even pulled out old pictures of her brother and Kon together as kids, grinning with gap-toothed smiles at the camera, pulling at each other's school ties. For Kon I was probably just another one of those annoying children who hung around the colony. But he was a gentleman; he never failed to smile sweetly at me and say 'Hi'.
'My life is like a bra that's been put on wrong'
Excerpted from You Are Here by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan with the publisher's permission. The book is 257 pages long and priced at Rs 199; it is being launched on August 15 by Penguin India.
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