“We better get out of here, quickly”, I said to her.
I don’t think she heard me. She was transfixed. Engrossed. In another world. Her expressions betrayed desires building up inside her. Greedy, primal desires. She was slowing down. Her head was turned sideways, towards the other side of the street. I could see it in her eyes – the intense cravings and the basest longings. She was yearning for it, again. The addiction was engulfing her and she was becoming weaker. I had led her to this today and before.
It was six months back when we discovered it, here, at this place. I had heard about it from a friend of mine. He knew we tried experimenting new stuff. Exotic stuff. We tried it casually one day, unaware of its obsessive hooking effects. We loved it. The effect touched our senses so deep that we moaned in ecstasy. We said to ourselves that we would keep it under control. Only once in a while.
Oh! how oblivious we were. The fools. We were addicted to it in no time. The temptations increased from twice in a month to twice in a week. Then, we were having it in every couple of days. The visits became too frequent. To avoid the peeping eyes, we decided to stock some of it at home. I bought the supplies, she did the mixing. We consumed it together. Now it was available at home, as and when we desired.
It was I who first realized what we had gotten into. A trap. We were neck-deep in a quagmire. Its effects were visible on our bodies. We were skipping dinners. The overdose posed other health hazards. This realization snapped me out of it. But she found it difficult to let it go. It’s not that she didn’t try. We had cut off its home supplies. She was able to keep off from it for a month. But then, once, returning alone from office, she passed by this place and decided to have it once. Once! She couldn’t be more naive. She started coming to this place behind my back.
Now my heart wrenched as I see her in agony. She was barely walking now. Wide-eyed, she just longed for it like a lost soul longs for water in a desert. “It has to stop, sweetheart,”, I almost cried. “You can’t live like this. On this. I can’t see you ruining yourself. Your body. You have to let it go.”
“She lowered her eyes and said wistfully, “Yes, you are right. I know better than to live like this, a slave to this addiction.” She was holding my hands now. She looked up and said, “Leave it, let us go.”
We started walking towards home. I felt relieved. At the turn where we were about to take the right, I felt her grip loosening on my hand. She had stopped. She stared blankly at me and whimpered, “One last time. Please.”
I couldn’t say no. “One last final time, and then we never return here”, I said dismally. Suddenly her face flashed brightly. She dashed across the street towards the vendor excitedly. With a glint in her eyes and peppiness in her voice, she ordered, “bhaiya, ek plate pani puri bana dijiye.”
Inspired by A.N ..
. . .
PS – Panipuri is a common street snack in several regions of the Indian Subcontinent.