Always the same song at the same time. She plays exactly the same track every night at around eleven o’clock. Every night, for the past 2 months – that’s how long I have been a tenant in this building. I come home, undress and change, dead tired from a long day at work, and as soon as I sit down with my Chinese takeout at eleven – give or take – I sit down to Nat King Cole singing Aquellos Ojos Verdes. It’s a beautiful song. I love it. I wasn’t even aware of him before coming here, but, then, after a couple of nights listening to the songs, I searched and found out it was him. It is the song she begins her night with, followed by his other works like Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps or rather Quizas, Quizas, Quizas. Both the songs are hip and happy with a touch of melancholy. She’s a jazz fan, I tell myself. I have never seen her and through her songs have only been able to arrive at an idea of her person. A twenty three-ish brunette? Yeah, maybe, yes. Tea or coffee? Perhaps, coffee. Smokes? Definitely. Drinks? Maybe when she wants to forget, or longs to remember someone. The more I think of her, the more I feel, I am falling in love with her. Why would someone listen to the same song every night always at the same time? In remembrance of an old lover? In remembrance of a string of lovers – that is, in remembrance of love itself? I lean myself against the wall, which separates both of us, and I hear her sing with the song. I listen to her for a while, and then, my body fails me, and I sleep, with lights still on and my take out half eaten.
I hardly sleep for three hours on any night. It’s been that way for a couple of years now. I am too afraid to sleep, I get dreams which I would rather have erased permanently from my mind. I wake up and walk up to my balcony with a cigarette clutched between my lips. Her balcony is adjacent to mine and unlike all nights, I find her tonight sitting there smoking a cigarette herself. I look at her, and then look away; it’s too dark, I can’t make out any of her features, and moreover, she has her back turned to me.
“I like your taste in music”, I say to her.
Silence. She doesn’t say anything. The night is pitch black all around. Everyone is asleep, everyone but us, hanging from our balconies on the fourth floor, smoking cigarettes and talking, or rather I talking. But, then, she speaks.
“You know, there are places in this world where there aren’t any nights for at least a stretch of six months”, she says. But, I wasn’t sure it was directed at me.
“Yes, there are places like that”, I say.
Silence. And smoke.
“I would like to go to one of those places. I would like to leave this; all this, and run away.”
I look at her, her back, and think to myself, “But, will you play the songs then, too, when it’s eleven?”
She walks away leaving behind a cloud of smoke hanging in the air and throws off the butt of the cigarette at the street below. But, I continue to stay there, thinking of Nat King Cole and her.
The next night, she plays Nat King Cole again. And this time I listen and think of the night-less world, and her, and I am almost certain, I am falling in love with someone who wants to escape something that I like the most.