Karthik stepped back a bit to make way for another biker. There wasn't much room left on the pavement, below the railway bridge. The rain got heavier by the second, the traffic slower by the minute due to the virtual heap of two-wheelers blocking half the underpass, and the soaked motorists none the better as vapour gushed in from all sides. The honking got louder.
Quarter to two in the afternoon, and the dark sky felt like evening. Then he saw the girl, not more than six or seven, he thought - standing away from the crowd on the far end. In fact she stood a few inches out of the shelter, looking up at the sky and quite enjoying it.
Kids, he smiled, shaking his head. She was now looking at him. He tried to wave, but couldn't get his hand out of the 'sardine can'. He shrugged and smiled. "Enjoying it?" His eyes asked her. She smiled back and looked up at the sky again. He was still smiling. He'd seen her somewhere. Where? And wasn't she with anyone? He noticed nobody tried to pull her back into the shelter. He craned his neck, searching - maybe her father or mother was short, but all he could see was a bunch of loud teens. Strange.
The TV blared on about the sudden deterioration of weather, cyclone effect, trees uprooted and on and on it went, in a loop. Karthik had almost dozed off, the memories of the wet afternoon almost fading away. He looked up at the wall - oops, midnight. Still groggy, he reached for the remote and pointed it at the TV, silencing it. The day's newspaper had scattered on the floor. He picked up the sheets absently, stacking them all up in no order, on the center table.
Then his eyes went to a particular photograph on the bottom right hand side of one sheet. The obituary column. "Baby Nikita - The Lord called her sooner than expected. We miss you sweetheart." Her parents' names.
His hands trembled as he kept looking at the little girl's photo, his mind still in a daze.
A splash of water hit his face, followed by a shrill kiddy laugh. He looked up.
"I love the rain, uncle. Do you?"