Love is love. When you love someone you just love her. -- Nick Doley This was on the seventeenth of November. My Birthday falls on this day. Rose and I decided to meet in the evening and go somewhere to have dinner. When evening came, we met at Indra Vihar. And then we walked a bit in the direction of the metro station before hailing a share-taxi. The share-taxi was packed and I felt a bit embarassed that Rose had to be squeezed in with the rest of us. But she seemed fine about it, and I felt a rush of affection swelling in my heart. We got down at G.T.B Nagar Metro Station alongwith the rest of the passengers, paid the fare, and then went down to the underground platform. Then we caught the next southbound train and rode it all the way to Malviya Nagar Metro Station. And from Malviya Nagar Metro Station we took an autorickshaw to JNU. And once inside JNU campus we went straight to one of the canteens that I had been to a few times before. It was the one a little further down the road from Narmada Hostel, the rather famous one. And there we ordered four bottles of fruit beer and different types of non-veg items. Rose pulled out a present that she had brought for me. It was a handmade Happy Birthday card with the caption “WHO’S WINDOW DO YOU LOOK AT?” I noticed that the “WHO’S” did not seem spelled right, and I told her that. She saw it too and brought out a pen from her bag and changed the “WHO’S” into WHOSE. “WHOSE WINDOW DO YOU LOOK AT?” it read now. I wondered whose window did she look at. Rose gave me the Birthday card saying “Happy Birthday, Jack.” I said thanks and took the Birthday card. I examined the card briefly. There was a drawing of a window on the front of the card, with a figure behind the window. And on the back of the card—I think it was on the back, although it could have been inside the card, my memory is not precise regarding such things—there was a message written in Rose’s handwriting. I made a mental note to read the message later in the privacy of my room. “Do you like it?” Rose asked. “Yes, I like it very much,” I replied. The orders arrived and we began eating. I was not exactly hungry. I was too happy being near Rose to be hungry. We finished only about half the items that we had ordered, and then we decided to go for a walk. November is cold in Delhi and JNU is a bit like a wildlife sanctuary. The whole campus is filled with trees, bushes and wild grass. Ocassionally one would come across beautiful creatures of the wild that left one speechless. And those asphalted paths which was like a maze in a never-ending garden were perfect for lovers going on a stroll. Rose put her hand around my arm gently and she shifted her weight a bit towards me as we walked. My body reacted by leaning a tiny bit against her, and now we felt warmer. We walked that way in that misty cold air like bona fide lovers. A lamp post stood every fifty paces or so fighting the enveloping darkness. It was quite dark by then, and quite deserted. The path lay empty and I had no idea where it led. And the dense vegetation on both sides were like walls. I wondered if Rose was feeling queer, wandering around with me in the dark like that. But then some fit jogger would suddenly appear out of the darkness. Or you would suddenly see candle lights somewhere behind the trees, and the Happy Birthday song, accompanied by guitar music, pouring out into the path. Or a sudden burst of laughter would spill out from behind the bushes, and my mind would be put to ease. The place was not as deserted as it seemed. It was filled with nooks and crannies and secret hideouts. We stepped off the path and walked into the bushes, and after about only a minute of walking among the scrubs we emerged into a clearing with a rocky surface. We stopped there and lay down on top of a large slab of rock. Then we gazed up into the sky. The sky was black and murky, and it hid the stars. The blackness and murkiness had an ominous quality about it. But the sense of mystery and solitude that came with it was strangely soothing. Suddenly my phone rang in my trousers-pocket. I was a bit annoyed by the timing of it but I received the call. It was mom. I told her that I was fine, and patiently answered her questions, “Yes . . . yes . . . .” And then I said, “Alright mom, bye, take care.” Then I got up and unzipped my fly and pissed down the rocks. Oftentimes I used to suffer from a habit of washing my hands after pissing. If my fingertips were not washed after I had urinated I felt extremely uncomfortable. Thankfully, Rose had a water bottle inside her bag. She took out her water bottle and poured out some water, and I washed my hands feeling much relieved. Then we left that place. Looking back, I think I should have tried to kiss her there in that rocky clearing. We walked around some more, and then we took an autorickshaw back to North Campus. I remember Rose had asked me a question while we were walking. With hindsight, now I find her question quite compelling. She had said to me, “Do you like me because I am a foreigner, or do you like me just as I am? If I were not born in England, would you see me the same way as you do now?” I should have said “I am not sure,” or “I don’t know.” Instead I said, “I like you because of what you are. Not because you are a foreigner.” On the backseat of the autorickshaw we sat side by side, my right arm curled around her back, and her left arm curled around my back. She was warm and I wanted to touch her breast. But she did not allow me to touch her breast. So I put my hands away from below her armpit and shifted away from her body. But damn! it was very cold and very windy. And the autorickshaw had no blinds to stop the wind from getting to us. So I chanced moving closer to her again. And fortunately she moved closer to me too. The sides of our bodies were pressed against each other again, and we brought our arms back to their former positions. I felt immensely grateful to her. We stayed like that. I did not let my hand wander to her armpit and to her bosom like before. The driver, seated on his front seat, kept driving silently. “Jack, have you ever been heartbroken in your life?” Rose asked me. “Yes, I had been heartbroken once,” I said. I remembered a time and an incident from my past, and continued. “So heartbroken that I could feel my heartbeat stop suddenly. I had to gulp down a bottle of water fearing that I might die in that very instant due to a heart attack. I was working as a night watchman at that time. I was a sort of crazy person back then. I had this idea that working as a night watchman would prepare me to become a great man someday. It was just past midnight and I could taste the long hours of duty in front of me. It was a hot summer night and I was sweating. Suddenly with shocking clarity I saw how—how utterly messed up my thoughts had become. How far from sanity, from truth, from beauty, honesty, joy, from life itself, my ambitious thoughts had taken me. All in the name of chasing a dream of greatness, all in the name of becoming famous and rich. The truth of it hit me like a slab of granite. In that single instant my whole world, which I had been carefully building up brick by brick ever since I could think for myself, fell apart and broke into tiny pieces. I felt like a fish pulled out of water, like a worm of the dark suddenly exposed to harsh sunlight. I was a hair’s breadth away from losing my mind. I had to think of a way out. But thought itself was the cause of my utter misery. Thought itself was the trap. Hands shaking, I reached for my water bottle and gulped down the water. A shower of cold sweat drenced my body instantly. I tore off my night watchman uniform then and there and ran off. I ran off from the neighborhood where I had been posted like a convict escaping prison. I never came back to work after that night. What about you, Rose? Has your heart ever been broken?” “We had a dog once. Marigold. I was seven or eight years old at that time. Marigold died in a car accident. One day she ran out of the house on her own. She must have been happy as a lark as she ran about freely. Two blocks away from our house, as she was crossing a street, a car hit her. And she died on the spot. Mom did not tell me about the accident until Marigold had been buried off. I loved her very much. I cried and cried and cried. Mom told me that I did not touch any food for three days. I think I never got over Marigold’s death.” Then she told me about the guy she was in love with before she came to India. He was a University senior and they had become boyfriend and girlfriend. She was on top of the moon when he proposed to her. But the relationship did not last. They broke up. The guy was no more in love with her. He was going after someone else now. Rose still loved him with all her heart. So she tried to mend their relationship. She even tried to do it through sex. But it all failed and he was gone from her life. She felt worthless after that. She almost became a dead thing. She could not take joy in anything anymore. She tried all kinds of things but she could not forget her boyfriend. Her boyfriend had left her and there was no way she could have him back in her life. She felt devastated. For months she was like a zombie. And her friends started to grow worried about her. Somehow Rose managed to pull herself out of that state. “I never ever want to be like that again,” She told me. Then she applied for the exchange program that would take her to India. Her application was approved, and now she was in India. We got out of the autorickshaw when we reached Indra Vihar. I paid the driver his fare and he drove off. The stalls were still open in Indra Vihar, and the tiny electric lights that were strung all over the place glittered and blinked merrily. Indra Vihar was such a contrast to the sombre and mysterious atmosphere of JNU. Rose and I clicked some photos of each other near the stalls. And then we bought some Black cigarettes and went into a park. Now we were back in familiar territory, and we felt relaxed. I told her that I wanted to show her a video. “Do you want to show me a porn video?” Rose asked. “No! It’s not a porn video,” I told her. I wanted to show her a video song by MO. It was a very famous one those days. It went “Do you recall not long ago . . . na-na-na-na-na-na na . . .” I don’t remember the name of the song now. We watched the video sitting on a park bench. The video had elephants, and lots of young Indian women, dressed in traditional attire and jewels, dancing classical steps. After watching the video we examined each other’s hands. Rose told me that she liked the shape of my fingernails, which in my opinion were shaped like shovels and not so nice-looking. I told her that I liked hers. They were long and milky and tapered slightly towards the tip. And they were softer and warmer than mine. Then we put our fingers together. And when the pleasure was almost unbearable I separated them. When we walked out of the park, I tried to touch one of her breasts. I did it just to tease her. And she said, laughing, “Oh Jack, you are incorrigible!” And then it was time to part. She hugged me, and this time I did not just stand there limply. I hugged her back too. And then we parted. As I headed back to Gwyer Hall, my mind came up with another question. What would sex with Rose be like? My face became warm with just the thought of it. You won’t last two seconds.