It was not love-at-first-sight. I have never believed in it. In fact, I liked a girl. But Cyanide was different. As girls become when we infatuate over them. 

It was not her actual name, though. I can’t recall. For me, she was always Cyanide. It was I who gave her this nickname during a visit to  our favorite restaurant— CYANIDE, where she puked for the first time.

One year my junior, I interviewed her for the dramatics club. She was attractive, no doubt. A brown pair of spectacles on blue eyes, cheekbones that tingled my heart when she smiled, her peculiar way of adding ‘like’ in every sentence; but that wasn’t it; she was talented and brought an energy our group lacked. I had to select her.

And only days later, we were rehearsing together, and I was helping her with postures, telling her this and that, when my fingers touched the strap of her blouse. I froze. A tingling river of euphoria ran through my body. I wanted to crush her with a hug. I said nothing. But at night back in my room, I sent her a text:  “You are doing great. Keep it up.” And you know how it goes… in no time we were chatting through nights and she was opening her heart to me, which could only mean that she wanted the same. I started weaving dreams — as we do when we are in love. She was an adventure freak, like me. We were so alike! Our birthdays fell on the same day and our kids would be… No! I couldn’t think so far. We should never imagine before living.

Once I was walking with her in the campus, from one department to another when I asked her, “Do you care for a cup of coffee?” 

It was sudden. I hadn’t expected such boldness from myself. For a moment, I wanted to take cyanide. But then she said yes. And my heart quietened. That day, we had our first coffee together; it was just us. And within weeks, we were hitting pubs and bars, where she got drunk and danced. I watched her from a distance, waiting for her to call me upstage so we could groove together to an EDM. She never did. But it was okay. Patience is the key. I would tell myself. 

My friends were joking about us. “Vicky, you are a rockstar dude! The hottest chick, eh? What’ve you done with her? Tell us everything, every detail, which base you have reached. Don't smile, don’t blush, be proud of yourself, and tell us. We need details, bruv.” I need to be honest. I was floating in the stars then. “Only the second base guys, skipping the first one. Such girls take time. Also, she was drunk and didn't know,” I told them.

One day I asked her to go with me to a hill-station. She was overjoyed. We were four: two boys and two girls. And throughout the trip, she was with me, sleeping with her head on my shoulders, her legs on my thighs. And how can I forget the birthday card she made for me? The gusto with which she decorated it. I knew she also loved me. But wanted me to take the first step.

And I remember… when we had played paintgun together. She, running around like a hummingbird. Me trying to catch up with her. Like kids we played. And the way her body moved… I was mesmerized. My eyes were on her all the time. And after the games- when she had washed and her hair shone, her face still red with paint, I wanted to propose to her. Cyanide, will you go out with me? That’s all I had to say. I knew she would have said ‘yes’.. If not then, a few days later. And then… I would have asked her… 

“But no,” I told myself. “For now, only non-veg texts and double meaning talks and physical closeness would do. Emotional intimacy in which I know everything she does. She behaves like my girlfriend, anyway. They see us that way. Maybe we are, in fact, already going out.” 

I have a storehouse of such memories, in which only the two of us live. And I am drowned in it, forever.

One Sunday, she asked me to meet her in our favorite restaurant. CYANIDE. It was unexpected because last night she had told me that she was going to meet a cousin from another city. So I thought, maybe the D day had come. My heart started racing. I wore my best and applied my most expensive perfume. I wanted to make it memorable. I even bought a ring, though an inexpensive one; that’s all I could afford. 

I still remember. She was in a black tee over blue jeans, hair straightened back, and her eyes had collyrium. She sat by me, her lavender smell making me numb, and as we settled, my elbow touched her breasts, so close we were. My heart was thudding in anticipation of something momentous. I felt this was the moment I would remember for life. 

I was not wrong. 

She started speaking, “I love this guy. But he is from another city. I don’t know…” 

What the fuck! The world stopped around me. I couldn’t believe my ears. That’s the cousin she was going to meet. Hatred blurred my thoughts. I wanted to stand up and walk away and leave her alone, knowing all she had done was use me. Yes! What else was it, then? And to know that she had been talking with him for so long and hadn’t even cared to share with me - her so-called best friend! I mean, what the… Who the hell was he? 

But then, she was sitting by me, indifferent to how our shoulders touched, her hair touching my head, its smell wafting towards me. She poured her heart with fear, because she was talking about something she had never shared with anyone. How could I leave her then? She was so vulnerable. For once, I even felt that it had all been my imagination —my love for her and her love for me, and I could do nothing.

But I shrugged this thought away. I couldn’t back out now. My friends would make fun of me. 

One day she asked me to come with her. She was going to meet him and wanted me with her for moral support. “When I am comfortable, leave,” she said, as if she owned me. But I decided to go. I had to see his face. Once.

He came. We met. In the same restaurant- CYANIDE. I talked with him about silly things like politics and the latest Linkin Park number. I kept staring at him, I couldn’t see what she saw in him. But I kept my cool. I knew I will have more time with her. Her next few years were mine. He lived in another city. And I lived two departments away from her, on the same campus. 

After the long conversation full of laughter, in which we had shared a scoop of ice cream together, I stood up and enveloped her in a tight hug - her chest dipping into mine -  and looked at him with a smirk, as if telling him–she is mine bro, back off. 

When I came out, I saw them through the window of our favorite restaurant- sitting across each other, definitely not the way Cyanide was around me. Clearly, I had the upper-hand. Now, I knew what I had to do. 

I continued being her friend. I stayed with her. I went running to her whenever she called. I left my assignments, my tutorials, my presentations for her. I had to make sure that I was the only one around. And I started filling her with cyanide. Against him. I told her it was all balderdash — his love. I told her that he didn’t really love her and was only after sex. I said a lot of things which were contradictory. 

But she couldn’t spot them. I was her best friend. She had to hear what I was saying. She started judging him. And last I saw her, she even stopped talking to him.


And today as I sit with my wife in CYANIDE, about to tell her that I want a divorce, I almost type Cyanide a message, “I am sorry.” Even though I know nothing can atone me. And the cut on her wrist is mud. Like her. And guilt is slower than cyanide.


A dropout of various colleges, Nachi Keta is a Kidney Transplant Recipient and a neurodiverse writer from New Delhi. His works focus on mental health, oppression and the absurd in social and personal. Aan updated list of his published works is up on []. Sometimes, he tweets here: @KetaNachi 


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