Rain in the city
It was pouring heavily. A woman was looking in to the night through her window. She turned to reveal a well lit drawing room in a high rise apartment. A man was sitting on a desk in a corner writing by the light of a table lamp. The woman came toward him.
“Madhav, what are you doing?”
“You never have time for me.”
He did not reply. She grew impatient.
“Madhav, what is your problem?”
“What is your problem Vaani?”
“Talk to me.”
“Okay. Say what do you want to say.”
“It’s raining heavily outside.” Madhav resumed his writing.
“You are not listening.”
“I am listening.”
“What did I say then?”
“It’s raining heavily.”
“So what? What can we do about it?”
“Don’t you feel anything? There is a storm out there. God knows how many huts will be destroyed. How many families will suffer.”
“Are you feeling sad?”
“No?” She was bewildered at his insensitive demeanour.
“Now before you draw any conclusion, let me tell you something. Universe has its own rule. Everything is balanced out. So if there is destruction somewhere, somewhere else there is creation. So I am not sad, because I know this rain might destroy something but it will create something beautiful too.”
“You and you philosophies. You know what write your stupid story.”
She went over to the armchair and stood there irresolutely. She came back after a few seconds.
“Shall I switch off the lights?”
“Why?” he asked.
“You can write by the lamp light. Why keep all the lights on? There is enough light coming from the lamp.”
“No. I don’t like the darkness. See there is enough darkness outside. We need to balance it out, Universe’s rule.” He finished his sentence with a chuckle. He knew this would annoy his wife the most.
“Madhav...” Her sentence was cut short by a phone’s ring. Madhav’s phone was ringing.
“Hello..” Someone said something from the other side.
“Yes it’s me.” A pause. “What? When?”
The other person took some time explaining.
“Okay. Okay. What can we do now? Wait for her to calm down.” Another pause.
“Yes, yes. I know. Bye.”
“Who was it?” asked Vaani.
“Agni. Swadha discovered about Malini.”
“What? How? This had to happen. I knew it. How long did Agnivesh thought he could hide about Malini. What did he say?”
“Not to tell you anything.”
“Calm down now.”
“How did she find out anyways?”
Agni and Swadha’s story
Swadha was returning from an emergency operation when she got stuck in the rain. Somewhere a road had washed out and the traffic was being diverted to another route. She kept on looking at the watch on her dashboard. It was already 9 in the evening. She was really late. She dialled Agni’s number on her phone. It was out reach. Now she was feeling really frustrated.
The traffic was moving slowly and there was no way she could reach home before 11. Signal tuned to red again. She swore loudly. Suddenly she remembered a short cut nearby. All she had to do was to take a left from the next cut instead of going straight. She remembered the route well. When the signal turned green she sped toward the cut. No longer had she tuned left she realised her mistake. The road was clogged with water and a few vehicles were trying to make their way slowly. She cursed her fate. She could not go back as there was no U-turn around and the street she had left was already jam packed with cars. She decided to brave her way on this road. Driving slowly she made her way through to the t-point. From there she turned into a deserted road. She drove quickly but fate had other things in store for her.
She had moved a few hundred metres ahead when her car broke down. She tried to restart it but her efforts went in vain. She opened the car door and climbed down. This move sealed her fate. She had kept her phone in her lap after she last tried Agni’s number and completely forgot about it. Her phone fell with a thud in the murky rain water below. This time she swore loudly. She bent down and picked her phone from the water. The phone had switched off. She tried to restart it but her phone too ditched her. She suppressed an instant urge to cry loudly. She looked around to see for some help. No car was coming this way. She was all alone on this street. She began to feel scared. After all crime against women was not new in the Capital. There were houses on the other side of the street. She decided to go and ask for help in one of them. She picked her bag, locked her car and made her way to the nearest house. She read the name-plate. It belonged to some Mr. Kakkar. She went towards the second house. The name-plate read Miss Sahay. She pressed the door bell.
A few minutes later she heard someone open the door. A woman stood in the doorway. Swadha could not see her face as she was standing against the light. Had she seen her face she would have known something was wrong. She began telling her plight to the woman and that she only needed to use the phone. She had finished speaking when she heard a man’s voice from behind the woman.
“Who is it Malini?”
The voice was oddly familiar. The man came closer. Things could not have gone more wrong that day. There in front of her stood Agni, wearing a bath robe. Swadha stood there stupefied. Staring from the woman to Agni. Agni could not speak anything for a minute then he regained his consciousness.
“I can explain everything. I WILL explain everything Swadha.” Said he.
“Oh, will you now?” Swadha said in a tone mixed with fury and sarcasm. “I think I should let you two enjoy.” She grabbed the door handle and slammed it shut in their face.
. . .
“So that’s how Swadha found out about Agni and Malini.” said Madhav.
“And where is Swadha?” asked Vaani.
“She called the cops. They gave her a lift home. She is very angry.”
“She should be and Agnivesh deserves it. It was only a matter of time before they separated.”
“Make me a cup of coffee.”
Vaani went to the kitchen. She put the kettle on the burner. It had begun to drizzle now. She looked at the drops which fell on the window pane. They were making a curious pattern. Vaani lost herself in thoughts. Her stupor was broken by the whistle from the kettle. She made coffee and returned to the drawing room.
“Madhav I was thinking.”
“What were you thinking now?”
“That thing you said about Universe’s rule. So according to you everything is balanced out. How will the universe balance this out?”
“A couple got separated today. A little love lost. How will this get balanced?”
“Wait and see. Universe has all the answers.”
Vaani smiled. Madhav always had a way with words. She looked at the sheet of paper Madhav had finished writing on.
“What’s this....wait a second. Isn’t this Agni and Swadha’s story?”
“Yes it is.”
“What are you? Mad. You wrote a story about them? What do you...” She was cut short by a phone’s ring. Her phone was ringing.
The person from the other side sound very excited.
“Really. Wow. When did it happen?” asked Vaani.
A pause in which the other person launched into an explanation.
“I am so happy for you. Why don’t you come over tomorrow?”
“Yes, yes. Indeed. He took a long time though. Congratulations dear. Bye.”
She disconnected the call.
“It was Siya, Raghav finally proposed her for marriage.”
“Nice? That’s it.” She said impatiently. “Aren’t you happy for them?”
“Yes I am.”
“Sometimes I fail to understand you.”
“What is it that you don’t understand?”
“You were rooting for Raghav to propose Siya and now that he has done it all you have got to say is Nice?”
Madhav began to laugh.
“What are you laughing about?”
“See. There is your Universe’s rule working.”
Vaani paused,then he too started laughing.
“Now you will write a story on them too.”
“Yes, I will.”
Raghav and Siya’s Story
It was pouring heavily when Siya got stuck in the heavy traffic jam on the outer ring road. There was no way she could reach her hotel on time. Everyone around in their cars was honking to their best possible capacity. It was highly irritating. She could have been sitting in the warm, cosy bed of her hotel room but here she was drenched in rain, listening to the crash sound of car horns. She laid her head on the steering wheel and cursed the moment she had decided to step out of her hotel room. She wanted to talk to someone. She picked up her phone and dialled the first number that came to her mind. When she saw the name on her screen she smiled to herself. It was so obvious and yet so unexpected. Raghav was just a friend and yet whenever she needed a shoulder or needed to hear a reassuring voice his name was the first to come in mind. She waited for the call to get connected. A ring went through and the call got disconnected. A message flashed on the screen “I am in a meeting. Call you later.” She felt disappointed. Then she typed a message “I am stuck. I need you.” and sent it. After she had hit the send button, she realized what she had written. She hit her head on the steering wheel.
“Why oh why? Why did I write that?”
Another message flashed on her screen “Where are you?”
“Near the MG Road flyover.”
There was no more message. She turned on the radio. A romantic number was playing. Siya smiled to herself. Atleast something was good today. Call it her luck or coincidence the radio channel kept on playing her favourite numbers. Soon she was singing at the top of her voice. Suddenly someone tapped on her car window. She jumped with a start.
“RAGHAV......oh thank god its you. You scared me.”
“What are you doing here? You were supposed to be in your hotel room.”
“Yes Aarti needed some help in shopping. She went to the airport and I stayed back to have dinner. Now I am stuck.”
She realized Raghav was still standing in the rain.
“Oh I am so sorry. Come in.” She opened the car door for him. He settled in the seat next to her.
“I love that song” said Raghav about the song playing on the radio.
“Where’s your car?”
“I left it in the parking of the Metro mall, two streets down from here.”
“And you walked all the way down here?”
“I had to. I couldn’t drive in this jam, could I?” he paused then said “How come you are alone?”
“What do you mean?” asked Siya and almost instantly realized that he had been asking about the page 3 news about her. Some tabloid had reported that she was dating a rich hotelier.
“That’s rubbish. You don’t believe that. Do you? Because...” she said impatiently.
“Nothing. What are you doing here? Weren’t you in a meeting?”
“Yeah. You were stuck right. And I couldn’t leave you alone, could I?”
“Well, you could if you wanted to.”
“But I didn’t because...” An awkward silence fell between them.
A moment later Siya asked “because?”
They both fell silent again. Suddenly Raghav turned toward her and looked into her eyes. What he said next was what Siya had been waiting to hear for a long time.
“Will you marry me, Siya?”
“No. I mean yes.”
“But Siya I am neither an hotelier nor a business man. I am mediocre. I am just a manager...”
Siya cut him short. “Wait. Why do you think so much? If it really bothers you I will leave all this. I did not ask to be an heiress. I don’t even want to be. I just want to be happy... with you.”
She paused. They looked at each other. Siya began to say something. Raghav shushed her. There was a lifetime worth of time to talk.
. . .
“So that’s... Siya and Raghav’s story.”
“Why don’t you give it a rest, all this writing.”
“Why are you annoyed?”
“Well, you never write a story about me?” Said Vanni laughingly.
“Maybe I have already written one.” Madhav said sheepishly.
“What! Really. Show me.”
“It’s getting late.”Madhav left his chair yawning. “I will show you some other time.”
They switched off the lights and darkness fell.