Once upon a time on a cold wintry August evening, it poured down heavily. She quickly removed her deep blue umbrella from the bag she always carried. Hesitantly, she stretched it as little drops of rain already started soaking her long beautiful wavy hair. As she raised the umbrella over her head, she scanned through the street for any sight of a taxi and found none. Slightly irritated at this, she started walking ahead absolutely fretting the idea of walking through the muddy water that flushed through her feet. Although the umbrella was big enough to cover her, the pleats of her light coloured partially transperent saree were completely drenched until knee. To avoid further soaking she took refuge under a banyan tree that stood all its life in the midst of that not-so-busy street. All the other passers-by held anything they had in hand to cover their head and ran helter-skelter for shelter. Hawkers quickly paddled their way through the fleeting rain droplets. The small children gripped to the grid of windows of their houses with immense excitement at the sight of the rain and earnestly pleaded their mothers to let go into the rain. Even street dogs barked their way until they found shelter beneath the window sill of a sweet shop. Within the next couple of minutes the street was almost devoid of any activity. Although occasional rain drops trickled down her face and shoulders from the little gaps the tree allowed, she stood there deeply engrossed in an attempt to dry her half drenched saree and slowly unfastened her hair from a loose braid and left it open.
Meanwhile, he started walking hurriedly through the street. He was tall and had an average build. He had his briefcase held upon his head in an attempt to cover it by his right hand and his left was engaged in unfastening his neck tie. Large rain drops fell on his spectacles slimly placed over his sharp nose almost blurring his vision ahead. He took long strides until he reached the banyan tree to escape the rain. The two minute journey from his workplace to the banyan tree drenched him almost completely. He stood beneath the tree soaked in rain, feeling cold and wiping off the water that ruined the lens of his spectacles. After a couple of minutes the two refugees of the old banyan tree realized each other’s presence. In the darkness of the rainy starless sky they could not see each other. She looked away as if looking at him would mean encouraging a conversation between them. She had never liked to interact with strangers.
His mobile rang and he groped in his pocket for it. It was a call from one of his collegues at office inquiring about his conveyance to home. Although, not very clear she heard his crisp voice through the showering sounds of rain and felt an unsettling chill in the already cold weather. He felt like a less stranger to her then. Soon after he hung up, a loud thunder struck a nearby tree followed by lightening and overcome with curiosity, the two strangers faced each other and saw a flash of the other’s face in the light for the first time that evening. His deep piercing look cut through hers and she remained transfixed unable to say or move. He stared at her and she stared back at him with almost double intensity. He looked away as if he wanted to escape the stare and did not want to look back, but she kept looking at him observantly. His mind spun 360 degrees reminiscing good old memories of how lot better his life was years back. The rain wasn’t any better. Instead of settling down it just got more fiercer with every passing minute. A strong wind blew and the banyan tree swayed its leaves in mutiny. She fixed her gaze on the mud puddle in front of her and seemed to be brooding over endless thoughts.
The wind blew stronger and she tightened her arms around her body to defend the cold. Her long hair flew about happily and one blessed strand entangled with his shirt button. It took almost an eternity to enstrangle it from the button and in those few precise minutes, she could feel his breath and found an invincible warmth close to him. Her large liquid eyes looked into his with staunch repentance. He felt overwhelmed. That is when he caught the first clear glimpse of her that evening and it felt as though tear tracks were marked all through her cheeks.He felt a deep sensed agony. Emotion welled up from within and she hugged him tight as if she feared losing him again. He held her tight in his arms and consoled her with reassuring warmth. Her beautiful face was pressed against his chest and love suffused.
” Dont go back. I need you ! “, she sobbed through the words.
” I will never…”, he re-assured.