Of cupcakes, lipsticks, ruby, and love – the shades of red – by Raj Deepali Pandey

Stories Apne Apne by Raj Deepali Pandey

This girl I knew, had a sweet tooth, so much that I sometimes wondered whether her milk teeth fell off naturally or they succumbed to cavities. While too much of desserts would give me a headache, she would even eat desserts for starters. Every other person used to wonder how could she eat so much sweets without gaining extra pounds. She was blessed, I would say. And I was blessed to have her, they would say. And I brushed away such comments, calling her just a friend.

Red velvet cakes were her favourite, credit goes not to the flavour, but to the colour. I wonder if she had a fetish for all shades of red. She would tell me she loved red as it was the colour of love and passion. I would be sarcastic and tell her that it was the colour of danger too, so love and danger were synonymous terms. She would punch me angrily for blaspheming against her favourite colour and the pious feeling so cruelly. She also wore a ruby stone in the ring finger of her right hand, saying it increases blood circulation and keeps the heart healthy. Everyday she would wear a new shade of red lip colour, and would ask me in the coyest way possible if she’s looking any different. I would disappoint her everyday by being unable to identify the new but indistinguishable tint of red on her lips. For me it was all dark red or light red. But for her it was either rich red or nude red, scarlet or crimson, wine red or rose red….gosh that girl did her doctorate in differentiating between shades of red. I really felt guilty at times for spoiling all her great efforts which she carried out for me. Wait….did she really doll up everyday for me? Were the shades of red she wore everyday symbolic of her love towards me?

I was the kind of man who never believed in the idea of everlasting love. The theory of one partner for life gave me nightmares. But her presence beside me had a magical effect. While I continued getting infatuated by a new girl everyday, she became my constant, the one who knew everything about me, from my first crush to my latest crush, from my first kiss to my latest one- night stands. She would laugh at all the silly encounters I had with girls, would give me necessary advices so I can avoid any dating faux pas, and would sometimes tell me to stop seeking hook-ups and settle for a true love. I would burst into cackles every time she gave me a lesson or two on life long love, and make her regret wasting her time trying to teach me the old school morals.

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Of late I started watching a drastic change in her behaviour. She would avoid any eye contact with me while we had our conversations. She started sharing her desserts with me more often. She started asking me does she look any different. And as I said earlier I spoiled her efforts being unable to distinguish her new red shade of lipstick. Every time I mentioned a new crush of mine I saw a discomfort on her face (jealousy, I must say) and she would try to change the subject. Now she didn’t give me pro dating tips, instead she always found a flaw in any girl I would mention before her. Did she like me more than a friend? The answer came in positive by her gestures, and I believed it more with every passing day.

She had her dreams, I had mine. She wanted stability, I wanted freedom. She desired to make a home in someone’s heart and settle in it forever, I wanted to wander till I find a perfect home. So when she told me her family wants her to get married soon, I knew our bond was short- lived. She asked me, “What am I to you?” I could just smile and say, “My best friend.” My reply broke her heart into millions of pieces as was evident from her tear filled eyes. She left the place, sobbing inaudibly. Wearing the sun glasses saved the day for me, as I have been taught that real men shouldn’t reveal the pain they bear.

A month later she sent me a picture of her wedding card, accompanied with a message, “Do you still have something to say?”  She still hoped for a change of heart in me. I typed, “Yes, I am planning to kill your husband- to- be and abduct you from your wedding venue.” I waited for few seconds before sending, backspaced, and typed, “Congratulations. Have a happy married life.” I hit the send button. She saw my message, began to type something and typed for about two minutes. She stopped typing, I didn’t receive any message, and her display picture went blank. Sighing heavily, I experienced my first heartbreak that day, and I was too coward to mend my heart and hers too.

A friend uploaded her wedding picture. She was looking breathtakingly beautiful in her crimson red and golden wedding attire. The groom was not as handsome as me, I tried to satisfy my ego by this comparison, though my heart knew they looked happy and perfect together. Or was she just faking the happiness for the sake of pictures? In any case, she would be happier with a man who would give her the kind of love and stability she always wanted, and I simply prayed that for her to recover from the heartbreak I gave her. Perhaps the ruby stone she wore would help her in healing her heart and keep it healthy.

“Sir, your red velvet cupcakes.” The waiter served me a palette of drool worthy cupcakes, breaking my chain of thoughts where I was drowned in nostalgia. Yes, I still eat red velvet cupcakes even though I never liked too much of desserts, just because they remind me of her. My friends say it was a wrong decision to let her go, some say I was unlucky to lose a gem, but I know I had no choice. I didn’t change a bit, I still have frequent crushes, every few days I right swipe on Tinder, and I still evade the idea of an everlasting love. Till the date I never admitted that I loved her, though I still shed a tear or two looking at the photograph of the girl in red in my phone.