The following piece is a collaboration between me and Nachiketa Anand ( (


Vienna played a setting to the breezy summery dress and the lady donning it. A blue orchid in her hair and a smile that blossomed more, she was walking alongside the café. She was listening to Kevin Rowe’s ‘Singing like a rich man’ on loop. Sitting at the café was a man in his early 30s. His unshaven look and the leather jacket made him look a biker. But he was a poet. A free soul who wanted to turn everything he touched, beautiful.

“The breeze brings in smile

Sometimes wry, sometimes senile

As it injects souls in its way

It drops some venom even in the bay

People flock sharing wide grins

In this convoluted world, there is place even for beautiful sins”

He was staring down that piece of paper and cringing with joy with what he had written. He was never old school in his words, maybe in thought, sometimes. Ironies and parallel lives fascinated him and kept him company for years.

She saw him lost in that piece of paper. And as if she knew, she walked past him, brushing his shoulder.

He felt it. His flesh tingled with strange excitement. His skin goose-pimpled in reciprocation. But he did not flinch. A side glance indicated that she was an extremely attractive woman. A delicate butterfly tattoo on her ankle caught his eye. Her charmed bracket made a delicious crinkling sound as she walked past. A blue orchid stood in stark contrast to her fiery red curls, cascading down her shoulders in a gorgeous mess. He did not dare to look at her. He was afraid she’d be too beautiful. He took a deep breath. An earthy fragrance lingered in the air.

She sat two tables away from him. She stared at him, unwavering. He was a victim to that piece of paper he was so intensely starting at. And then she saw him smile. A smile that radiated such happiness that it hurt. She cringed in disgust. Her petite frame and warm brown eyes shone with quiet vulnerability, making every man want to wrap her in a protective embrace. She hated that. She was a troubled soul who thrived on sorrow. Melancholy inspired her. She was an extremist. She hated greys. She loved black. After all, she was a poet too. Taking a break from Kevin Rowe, she vigorously scribbled on a tissue.

Masked behind every smile, there’s an unsaid pain.

Burning every ounce of desire, just like acid rain.

The soul is hurting, it wants to break free

The more it tries, the harder it’s pulled, in the quick sand of misery.

So don’t smile my friend, a lethal price you’ll pay

Poison arrows will sting you, your happiness it will slay.

Her eyes lit up with a sense of victory as she re-read her piece. It reeked of pain. She loved it. Neatly folding the tissue, she gestured to the waiter. And as he delivered the message to the man two tables away, she made a quick escape. With a spring in her step and a smile on her lips, she hummed ‘Singing like a rich man’. And Vienna was pulsating to the beat.

A man of wry smiles and dry wines, he was rather amused at her attempt to grab attention. This was when he turned old school. Before she could turn around waiting for a reaction, he scribbled a note himself.

The red curls speak more than required

The heart sinks and the soul stands retired

With spunk found in sorrow

My happiness you may borrow

For all you need is reason to cringe

And it doesn’t sit on a smile’s fringe

So embrace yourself and set yourself free

Then maybe, just maybe you’d impress me”

As soon as she turned around, he kept the letter on her table and waited for her to walk to him. He wasn’t going to walk away. Vienna was serving its purpose. He had found his prey.

And so he thought. From the corner of her eye, she was watching him. Her face broke into a cynical smile. 

‘Not so soon, my friend. Not so soon’, she muttered sharply.

For years, she’d been waiting for this moment. It had taken her 8 years to get over a bruised past. The struggle was a long, tiring one. The hurt had receded. The pain had numbed her. Memories had faded. But the scars kept the nightmare alive, even now. Towards the end, she had surrendered to misery. Happiness was a luxury she couldn’t afford. Not now. Not ever.

Forcing her thoughts back to the man in the leather jacket, she started to walk towards him. The universe was finally her aide. And now, she would conspire on getting even. He had no idea what he was up against. A wicked glint danced in her eyes. Her pulse quickened and so did her step.

He could hear the dainty sound her stilettos made as she marched towards him. She was getting closer. His flesh tingled with excitement. He smiled and turned to look at her. He stared at her. Mesmerized. She was as gorgeous as ever. This couldn’t be. Even Vienna couldn’t save him from his worst fears. She read fear in his eyes. A familiar feeling of comfort swept through her as she spoke in a hauntingly calm tone

“Every time you smile, I feel an ache

In sorrow I dwell, in sorrow I wake

Your happiness will vanish

Your dreams it will banish

Misery will trap you, there’s no escape

Sorrow will haunt you, disguised under a cape

I’ve waited for years, for you to come along

Today I’ll tell you where you belong

A victim to darkness, I envision the end

The chase has begun, start running, my friend”

She took another step towards him. Her earthy fragrance filled his senses. She was too close for comfort. He shifted uncomfortably. He could feel her measured breath on his ear. She leaned closer and whispered in his ears ‘I knew you’d come. I just didn’t expect you to take so long’.

He sank his lips into her heart. Romancing them right into the dark corners. She did not kiss him back but did not stop him either. As the melody of his tongue made music inside her soul, tears rolled down her cheeks and met his lips. His hands were in her hair, hers were in his pants. As passion took precedence, the open air café witnessed love-making by the banks as they had never seen before. The people did not cringe, they did not complain. They just wept at the sight of two souls tearing each other apart with their bodies. She cried and found a resonating voice in the eyes she saw. Her pain was felt by all. And this man was hurting her more than she wanted. She was ecstatic. After he was done with her, he paid the bill and left her with a note to read.

It took her two hours to come back to her senses. After sipping on seven glasses of red wine, she finally unfolded the piece of paper.

“You had me in pieces with your first glance

Fate might argue, but it was a happenstance

One where you walked in my den proud

Roaring into my soul, trashing my happy cloud

With my smile thwarted

And your advances darted

The only way to win was to lose

And crash into defeat of my muse

You choked me into the dark

Leaving me naked. Leaving me stark.

As you wanted I have fled

It’s time for you to stop though

Enough you’ve bled”

And just like that, she broke into a smile.


2 thoughts on “Checkmate

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