Shiv sipped on his now lukewarm cup of coffee, and feels the bitter sweet taste of the dark liquid slowly engulfing his body. As if an after effect of the coffee, Shiv felt the cool morning breeze slowly embrace him and then move on quickly with its flow.

“Even the air doesn’t want to hug me,” he says to no one, standing on the edge of his nine story house’s rooftop balcony alone at 6 am.

Looking at the view in front of him, he suddenly has an urge to smile but is too tired to do so. The stretching of his lips to its utmost end felt like an exercise and his efforts were seemingly being laughed at by the malicious stare of the Swoyambhunath’s pair of eyes. The stare seemed magnetic; he couldn’t look away from the pair of eyes etched on the golden stupa miles away from where he was standing. Taking another sip from the cup, Shiv is intrigued to go visit the stupa, suddenly wanting to start the day in any other way than by attending his classes.

His mind debating, he starts picturing his college where he know if he goes today, he’ll be late and picked out from the crowd just to be humiliated for his ever growing long hair in its out-of-the-ordinary style. And then he pictures the other option- pictures himself inserting the keys to ignition, feeling the air hit him, while he raced through the slowly busying morning markets with few of the elderly snooping for fresh vegetables, in his bike and finally reaching the famous tourist site of Kathmandu, the Swoyambhunath temple, beginning the day with a sort of exercise- climbing hundreds of stairs and finally reaching the top.

Yes, he chose the second option.
No hurry while taking his steps, he walks down the stairs, once again debating whether or not to call up his friends for the short journey. The picture of him climbing the stairs, and reaching the top of the site just for the fun of it – alone, lured him out of calling his friends. He didn’t understand his sudden need to be alone especially since he was secretly hoping to meet someone there and fall in love with, at the very first sight.

He sat down at the dinner table, the stupa still visible from his kitchen window in front of him, and started picturing the spontaneous moment he would fall in love with the beautiful stranger on that very temple he was staring at.

He decided, he would reach the top and as he took in the amazing view of the beloved city he was raised in he would hear a laugh. The bubbly laughter- mellifluous to hear that would make him smile without making a deliberate effort. He searches for the source of the sound that would remind him of sunshine until his eyes would settle at the slightly shaking body of a girl turning away from him. She’d be slim and slender, he decided. And she’d be tall, not taller than him of course but just the right height so that he could rest his head lazily on her shoulder without having to bend a mile or so. The view of the million houses and buildings in the city loosing its importance, he’d adjust from side to side to get even just an evanescent glimpse of her face. Without even looking at her, he’d know that she would be beautiful, striking.

Suddenly the girl in his imagination turns around, and he can see her face crystal clearl; while his eyes fixed on the bottle filled with salt. She was beautiful without a doubt, but he didn’t understand it. The face he saw was not of a stranger he’d fallen in love with at the first sight, but Dipty’s. Of course Dipty was beautiful even though she had a kind of face that couldn’t fit in the category of obviousness. Her skin fair and healthy, quite unusual for the girls living in the city these days, always had an eerie glow. Her face was slightly long with cheek bones at its sharpest. Her eyes big and shiny like dewdrops settled on it. She was beautiful, and without a doubt the closest to perfection as far as human beauty could go. But he could never fall in love with her, he thought firmly. Dipty was his best friend, the girl who understood him, who was anything even remotely close to family in this entire planet for him. A freezing shiver ran down his spine, as he tried to shake the picture out of his head.

“She’s just a friend!” he said out loud and as if announcing it would make it more true of a fact than it already was. But in return a sardonic silence was being penetrated by his kitchen equipments.

Then why did you picture her when you were thinking about the girl of your dreams?
A voice inside him whispered, but before he could even address the voice much rather the question it was asking, the loud noise disturbed the silent conversation he was having with himself. Several thudded footsteps later, Dipty was standing in front of him with a mischievous smile etched on her face and once again without an effort Shiv found himself smiling as if her smile were contagiously spreading.

“I was hoping you’d still be here….” Dipty said moving towards the kitchen with an aura of comfort to her after several years of friendship and visits to his lonesome house and suddenly Shiv was shaken by an epiphany so strong he dared not move or even speak.
“Let’s not go to college today… I don’t feel like it” she said making herself a cup of coffee.
Shiv nodded quietly and noticing he hadn’t spoken a word, she wondered what was running in that beautiful head of his.

“Where do you think we should go?”
Dipty’s heart fluttered a little when that impossibly beautiful smile of his, etched on his face once again while he pointed his finger outside the window and said “How about there?”