I'm a sucker for punishment...
"The peeper is out," said Neha. She was standing on the balcony. Dev thought she looked beautiful, in her white T-shirt, against the backdrop of the green and scarlet of the bougainvillea that cascaded down from the top floor. It was Saturday evening.They would have to leave for a party soon, but now, there was just enough time to savour the end of a beautiful day. He picked up his glass of Pepsi joined her.
The peeper was the man who lived in the apartment across the road. They didn't know his name, but he spent a lot of time on his balcony, ostensibly looking at his roses - he did grow beautiful roses - but most of the time, he was looking at their apartment, checking Neha out. At first, they hadn't noticed it -they had moved into their apartment only three months before, and the peeper wasn't the only one trying to get a look at the new couple that had moved into the neighbourhood. There were the old women who counted the boxes the movers brought in, the housewives who evaluated the furniture, the watchmen who tried to strike up conversations with the movers and the men who checked Neha out.
Men were always checking Neha out. It made Dev both proud and a little apprehensive. He still wondered why she had chosen him. Things settled down soon after. The old couple who lived on the first floor were decent people. And since both Dev and Neha worked, the apartment was usually empty, coming to life only at around 9 pm. But the peeper stayed interested. As soon as their car swung into the lane, he would be out on the balcony. Sometimes Dev and Neha considered drawing the curtains and shutting the glass doors that led to the balcony, but it seemed silly to shut themselves in. "We're just encouraging him to continue peeping, you know,"said Dev.
"Let’s give him some more encouragement," smiled Neha. She went over to the balcony railing and bent over, leaning on it. "Let's do it here, now," she said. Dev gaped. "You're crazy!" he said.
She turned her head and gave Dev a long, slow wink. "But in a good way," he said, tugging at his track pants. They put on quite a good show, Dev thought to himself, as they got dressed for the party. It was nearly 1 am when they returned. They were both pleasantly buzzed. They were about to turn into their lane when Dev saw that it was completely blocked by cars. There were people standing in small groups, talking in muted voices, in front of their apartment. Dev and Neha got out of the car and went up to a group near a Toyota that was parked in front of his gate. Subramanian, the old man who lived in the ground floor apartment, was one of them. "What happened," Dev asked. "Kumar Gowda passed away this evening," was the whispered reply. "Kumar Gowda?" asked Dev. "The gentleman in 301 - the apartment right across the street to you? Heart attack, I think. Happened this evening. His wife found him on the balcony, poor woman." A driver moved the Toyota away from the gate. Dev and Neha walked back to their car in silence. "Maybe we shouldn't have done it," said Dev. "Maybe he shouldn't have looked," said Neha.