Saturday, May 28, 2005
"rain rain, don't go away..."
It was five in the evening and the one kilometer walk to the library was turning out to be really pleasant. It was then Gautham felt the fat drops of water fall from the sky like marbles being dropped from atop a building. He looked up, squinting his eyes and had to bring his head down the next instant. He started heading to a temporary shelter nearby, but stopped.
"Hey, let me enjoy this."
He loved the rain. It had been a long time since he got drenched. The last time was when he was a small kid, returning home from school. He'd dance and jump with glee, splash through the small puddles in the road. He was probably was the only little Johnny who wished the rain won't go away.
Now he stood on the pavement, as amused onlookers in cars and rushing bikers looked at him. He smiled back and then turned his face to the heavens, enjoying the shower, spreading his hands, trying to soak it all in. He smiled. Because he'd always wished he met the girl of his dreams on a rainy day like this. He looked up, reminding God about this small favor.
He reached office and got down from the auto to pay, when the girl came running from nowhere, almost colliding with him.
"Auto bhaiyya? Basavangudi?"
She held the sides and looked at the auto guy and then at Gautham impatiently.
"Excuse me, may I...?" He pointed at his open wallet, eyebrows raised.
She rolled her eyes and stepped aside. Some cheek, Gautham thought.
He walked across to the pavement, and started up the office stairs , already planning for the day ahead, going over his presentation one more time. Goodness... the presentation CD. He'd forgotten his backpack in the autorickshaw. He ran back out, almost running over a short, stocky old man. He muttered an apology and tore past to the main road.
"Shit, I didn't even note the number of the auto." And why would he, the auto guy hadn't knocked him down. Well, the girl had, almost. He held his head, thinking fast.
Please, not on a Monday.
A hand tapped his shoulder. Anil.
"What's up, Gautham?"
"Arre, I left my bag in the auto yaar. Stupid girl, rushed him off."
"Anything important in it? I notice you normally have only your lunch box and novel in that. And why an auto today?"
"That's a long story. Now how do I locate this guy? I had my presentation CD in it. I don't even have the time to rush back home to make another copy. The Owl's gonna kill me." Owl was short for Chandramouli - his boss.
It was as good as gone, they both decided. His bag... and his promotion.
Later that evening, he sat at his computer, staring at the copy of the presentation. He looked up thankfully. If Owl hadn't called in sick, he would've. Saved by a rat's whiskers. He looked out the window. Dark clouds had loomed up again. He sighed at his narrow shave and nodded. His cell rang.
"Hello?" It was an unsaved number.
"Uhh..am I speaking to Gautam?"
"Yeah? Who's this?"
"I'm Neha. Did you lose a bag this morning, or someone you know who lost a bag?"
He sat up. Great. Ms. rush hour.
"Yeah, it is mine. If only you'd been a little patient this morning, I won't have left it in the auto."
He waited for a reaction. None. Maybe he should've toned down a bit. He didn't care.
"Anyway, where can I come get it?" He wondered how she got his number.
"Uh, do you know this Cafe Coffee Day outlet in Jayanagar?"
He arrived five minutes late. There was no sign of her. She'd insisted on telling him what she'd wear etc, but he had waved it aside. "I'll carry a red helmet. And I'll recognize you" was all he said, hoping she'd remember him too.
He paced outside impatiently for a while. And then he saw his bag. Inside the cafe. She was sitting beside it. Ah! She must've walked in from the other street. He pushed the door and walked in.
He approached her and stopped in his tracks. Hey, it wasn't her.
She stood up. "Gautham?"
They shook hands awkwardly and sat facing each other. He smiled sheepishly. Who the hell was this girl. And now he bit his tongue for having said all that to her on the phone.
"You know, I thought..."
She smiled. "Yeah, that was Asha, my younger sister. She didn't trust the rick guy and brought your bag home instead. I saw your CD labeled 'presentation'. So I thought maybe it was important."
"Yeah, it is..but...thanks." He smiled. How did she get his number?
She read his mind. "Your business card was in the bag."
He wondered when he'd slipped his business card inside the bag. Anyway...
They walked out an hour later, laughing and chatting like old friends.
"Can I drop you home, Neha?" He knew now that she didn't stay very far away. It was the least he could do for the trouble she took.
"No, it's ok... I'll walk."
He looked up.
"It might rain any moment now, are you sure?"
"Precisely. I love getting wet in the rain." She smiled, looking up longingly.
"Hey, me too," he said
"Ok, then let me walk you home?"
She continued smiling, puckering up her nose...unsure. "Ummm..."
"Come on," his eyes pleaded.
She smiled. "Ok."
And then it poured. They started walking slowly, oblivious to everything else.
Gautham looked up and smiled. "Thanks," he mouthed silently.