On a rainy day I saw him. Again. It was 8.30 pm and I had stayed back in office to attend a meeting. Cursing myself for having forgotten to carry an umbrella I stepped out of my building to be welcomed by a strong gust of wind infused with rain. My hair blew in all possible directions as I tugged on to my dupatta. Slowly adjusting my hair back in its place I looked around. There were quite a few people stranded below the asbestos sheet which clung diagonally to the building. The rain made loud pitter patter noises as it hit the sheet. Some people were making small talk with their neighbors and some were just busy on their cell phones. Some were stretching their hand out to test the rain and some were cursing under their breath. I decided to go back inside, sit in the reception and listen to some music. As I turned to get back inside, I saw him.
He was standing leaning against the last pillar cluelessly glaring at his phone. Dressed in complete formals and his trademark black jacket, he was still the good looking charmer he always was. But what was he doing here? He had left four years ago. The last I had heard he was still working at the Hyderabad office. I did think of him once in a while, but seeing him today in flesh and blood brought back some emotions inside. How madly I was in love with him at one point of time. I smiled at the thought. College sweethearts we were. It seemed like ages ago now. The days of bunking college to hang out together, holding hands in the parking lot, stealing looks in our common classes, waiting to be left alone at home to call the other, those quick make out sessions, those long walks, those.... Well, the list seemed endless as everything flashed before my eyes. I somehow had missed him a lot. After college we were placed in the same company, in the same city and we seamlessly continued our relationship from campus to corporate. But one day, everything had come to an end. It all broke in front of us as we watched helplessly unable to react. He had left to Hyderabad immediately and I had stayed back and continued with my life. I was seeing him after four long years and I just stood there staring at him and devouring every movement of his.
A tap on my shoulder distracted me. I looked behind.
"Excuse me, does this belong to you?" A man said.
I looked down to see him holding my ID card. I must have dropped it on my way out.
"Thanks." I said and took the card and put it into my bag. I turned to look back at him.
Now, he was walking towards me with a smile on his face. I stood there motionless, wondering what to do next. He came closer, my heart was thumping. I fiddled around with my hair and smiled back at him.
"Neeta. How are you?" He said and shook my hand.
"Hi Rohan." I smiled back.
We stood looking at each other for a whole minute and slowly the crowd around us began to disperse. The rain had turned into a drizzle and people were rushing to get back home.
"I need to leave Rohan. I might not get an auto later. Are you back here?" I said not wanting to address the question directly.
"Yes. Back for good." He said, staring at me. Almost like wanting to read the reaction on my face.
It took me all the strength I had to not show my happiness. I just nodded and collected my belongings, adjusting my dupatta over my head to avoid the rain.
"You're leaving?" He questioned.
"Hmm..." I nodded again.
"You still stay at the same place? Can I drop you?" He asked.
"Same place, yes. But no, I don't want to spoil your plans. I'll find an auto I'm sure." I said and began walking.
"Don't be stupid Neeta, its almost 9 pm. Please let me drop you, I'm going your side anyway." He insisted.
"Fine." I said and walked with him towards the parking lot.
We reached his bike as he put on his helmet and handed me a cap. I shook my head and tightened my dupatta. He sat and carefully adjusted his backpack to his front to make room for me to sit. Like the way he had done it a million times before. I put my hand on his shoulder and sat behind him. I felt a current rush through me. Yes, I had missed this. The smell of him pierced me as I was beginning to lose my mind. All the love, all those feelings were coming back. I struggled to understand the present as I was drifting away to some unknown land.
"Comfortable?" He interrupted my thoughts. Thankfully.
"Yes, lets leave." I said.
We had just crossed the tech park and were on the main road when it began to rain heavily. I was almost completely wet and was shivering behind him. He stopped the bike and we ran towards a closed shop for some shelter. I lay my bag down and started rubbing my hands to generate some heat. I was freezing. He stood at a distance looking at me without saying a word. I was struggling with my wet hair and the cold was killing me. He finally came closer, took off his jacket and handed it to me.
Too cold to notice or say anything, I grabbed and wore it hurriedly. After feeling some warmth I looked up at him. Through his well fitted shirt, I could say that he was working out. He was a fitness enthusiast anyway. I looked at him with my eyes wide open. He stared back at me. I wanted to rush towards him and drown in his arms. I still loved him, I knew that. I had evaded that fact for a long time but today I wanted to accept it and surrender to him. I had left him, because he had to move to Hyderabad for a permanent assignment and I did not want to have a long distance relationship. He had tried to reason with me but I was stubborn. He left and I was shocked over the fact that he had chosen his work over me. I did not return his calls or reply to his messages. Slowly he stopped. A part of me hated him for leaving but a major part of me still loved him. The very fact that I had stayed single until today proved it.
The rain was not subsiding and my mind was working over a lot of things. Should I tell him how I feel? Should I just let go and embrace him? I did not want to lose him again. I had never loved a man as much as I had loved him. No, I had never loved anyone else as much as I had loved him. I stood there staring at him, wondering what to do as he fiddled around with his phone. He looked up and smiled and pointed towards me. I looked at him confused. He came closer and pushed a strand of my hair behind my ear. I felt fireworks through my body. I smiled and thanked him.
"Rohan... " I started.
"I think we can leave now Neeta, the rain has slowed down. Lets make sure you get home before its too late." He said as he wore his helmet.
"Why do you still care for me so much Rohan?" I asked obviously sounding pleased.
"Why? Shouldn't I?" He smiled. That smile sent a dozen shivers down my spine.
I stood there motionless, looking at him.
"Neeta, come on lets go." He said and held my hand.
I was just going insane. I wanted him so badly that nothing else was making sense to me now. Why did we have to go home? Why couldn't we just stay here for the night? Why couldn't he just kiss me?
He sat on his seat and I slowly sat behind him. Subconsciously I wrapped my hands around his waist and rested my head on his shoulder. He didn't say anything. He just kept riding focusing on the flooded road.
My mind was working nonstop. I shall ask him to come back to me. We'll settle down now. When he had asked me to marry him and go to Hyderabad with him, I had said no, stating that I was too young then. But that was not the case now. I shall marry him and go anywhere with him. He had given me a choice then. A choice I had refused. For my selfish reasons. But now I did not want to let it go. He was back for good anyway. I shall speak to him about it tomorrow I decided.
He stopped the bike. I looked up to see that we had reached my place. I got down.
"See, we got you home safe. Bye Neeta." He said with a smile.
"Why don't you come in for a while? We can talk." I asked eagerly.
He looked at his watch and frowned.
"What happened?" I was worried.
"I'd love to Neeta, but my wife is waiting for me at home. Maybe some other time?" He said.
Each word hit me like a million knives. It pierced through my heart and slit my soul. The pain was unbearable and tears flowed. He mistook it for rain, waved a goodbye and sped away.
I stood there in the street, feeling lifeless.
And then it began to pour again.
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.