Friday, 3 April 2015

Midnight rain...


Mohammad Rafi, Dev Anand, Radio Mirchi and a Wills navycut were entertaining Amar on his journey back home. 28 year old Amar worked as a supply chain manager in Blow Plast’s Prabha Devi office (Dadar, Mumbai). Often his day ended well beyond  the stipulated working hours. Often his mother complained about how late he reached. But he couldn’t help. He was a workaholic.

The monsoon in Mumbai had just started and the transport as usual was caving in. It was as usual difficult to get a cab to the station at late hours. Amar checked his watch while throwing the cigarette. It was showing 11:35. He knew the last bus had already left. Amar stayed in Kandivali and had no option to take a cab straight to his home. It would have been very costly. So he chose to walk, hoping that a rare cabbie might offer him a drop to the station. The weather was cold and wet. So he didn’t mind it. On the Sidhdhivinayak Mandir turn he saw some cabbies zoom past him, but all were occupied. But “Taxieeeeeeee” he shouted any way. Suddenly he saw one of them slowing down. “By Ganesha’s grace…” he thought. But as he approached the cab, a young lady appeared from no where and started to talk to the driver.

“Hello… excuse me? I stopped the cab Madam” said Amar.
The girl turned towards Amar. She was fair and good looking. Her hair were a little drenched in the rain. Amar saw her cheeks glow in the shimmering halogen street lights. “I’m sorry but can I take this one? I’m already very late. I might miss my train”
“Well even I’m late. But… where are you going?”
She thought for a while and said, “Are you going to Dadar TT”
“No… I mean yes, Dadar station.”
“Then we can share the cab.”
“Alright…” and Amar delightfully followed her on the back seat of the cab.

As the cab gathered speed, the driver put on the radio. He too was the fan on Purani Jeans on Radio Mirchi. Mohammad Rafi again started singing,Jawaniya ye mast mast bin piyeJala ke chal rahi hai rah mein diyeNa jaane inmein kiske waste hu main. Na jaane inmein kaun hai mere liye…” Amar felt as if Rafi was singing only for him. All of last 10 years,  he had had quite a few interesting females in his life. But he didn’t find love in any of them. They came, they teased Amar with their friendship, one or two expressed their love and they vanished. He couldn’t think of even one affair or rather friendship to remember. One by one they all flashed in front of his eyes… and THUD!!! The cab bumped and came to a halt with a loud noise. One of the bloody pot holes, thought Amar. The driver got out of the cab to inspect the damage. He informed them that the axle had been damaged. A large boulder had struck the axle and it got bent, meaning the cab wont go further.“Holy Sh**!!!” thought Amar. He was struck in the middle of the road with a broken cab, odd hour and rain threat. He stormed out of the cab, completely forgetting that he was accompanied by a beautiful stranger too. His stream of thought was broken by a sweet voice.

“Excuse me”
“Yes?” oops, she was talking to the cab driver. She inquired and probably understood that it was not her day either.
“So what do we do now?” Amar broke the tiny silence as she got out. “May be we can start walking? We might find a cab on the way”
She looks Amar with a suspicious stare. She was here in the middle of the night on a near empty road with a complete stranger. How could she trust him? But she didn’t have any choice either. “Okay”, she said.
Amar paid the cabbie and started a casual stroll. “Excuse me, but can I ask your name?”
The girl gave him a hesitant look, “Pallavi” she said.
“Nice! My name is Amar Rane. I work in BP here in Prabhadevi… and I stay in…”
“Excuse me, but, did I ask?” She interrupted Amar.
“… Kandivali… heck no! But I was just trying to introduce myself.”
“But did I ask?” her tone was now a little louder.
“Hey no… please dont think that I’m trying to be over smart. I was just…”
“Who are you? Are you and the cabbie together? Do you have plans to abduct me? rape me? kill me?”
“Oh please shut up will you? I was just trying to be nice. The cabbie and I are not accomplices. And I’m not going to rape you. I’m a gay! Does that make you feel good? Now just keep on walking”

No body spoke for next 5 minutes. But some one had to break the silence. So it was rain who did that. They were barely a few meters away from Ranade road intersection when the rains came pouring down. Amar was carrying an umbrella, Pallavi wasn’t. He flipped it open and offered it to Pallavi.
“Dont worry, this is neither wired nor spiked. You can use it…” and he ran over to the nearest shelter for cover.
Pallavi stood ground for some time, but gave up against the wind and the rain and joined him. One more silence.

“Listen… ummm”
“Yes, Amar. Look I’m sorry if I rubbed you the other way. Just that I’m new and I dont know many people here. And you know there are these…”
“You are scared!” Amar interrupted her.
“Well… yes”
“Alright. Now listen, I’m a good guy. I’m not trying to create trouble for you. My mother is waiting for me at home and I’m equally miffed by the difficulty in getting to the station. Rains, the cabs, the roads, the time… whatever. But I was genuinely trying to help you. Now will you please tell me where you want to go so that I can help you in some way?”
“I want to go to my aunt’s place in Malad, I think is west. She stays in Sarvodaya Nagar.”
“Ok cool. I stay in Dahanukar Wadi in Kandivali west. So we are on the same route. So we’ll get to the station as soon as the rain stopsa dn then catch a local to Borivali.”
“Will there be a train at this hour?”
“Of course.”

Amar’s life has always been exciting and eventful. He was intelligent as a kid and smart, outgoing as a teenager. His prowess always earned him the best in whatever he did. He studied what he wanted, specialized in what he desired and was in a job he liked. For the records, he had had 5 girlfriends. But for him, they were just girls who liked being with him or around him. He obliged by taking them around, spending money on them and making them feel good. But eventually each one of them left him because he never actually loved any of them. He never felt like. A few minutes with Pallavi however were turning out to be what he liked. Every other girl he dated thought she was the smartest because she had got hold of the best bachelor in town. However Pallavi, as he guessed, was a little different. They had been talking for last 15 minutes and she was still reluctant to share few things.

The 15 minute wait paid the dividend and they finally got a cab to the station. This time Amar deliberately asked the cab driver to put on Radio Mirchi… and he heard Rafi singing Yeh Chand sa raushan chehera…”Pallavi finally opened up a little and the talks meandered from her home town, Bikaner to Amar’s antics as a teenager. The station, they both thought, came far too quickly. The station was crowded despite it beng half past midnight. Amar had a travel pass. So only Pallavi had to take a ticket. While he watched her posterior standing in the queue, Amar thought she was an attractive female and a very nice girl too. But he didn’t know how old she was, or for that matter committed, engaged or married? He didn’t know much about her, except that she stayed some where in Malad west and that she was originally from Bikaner. He didn’t even have her number. But why was he thinking so much? Was he falling in love with a stranger he met on the roads 45min back?

“Ohh… yeah? What?”
“What happened? I called you twice. Anyway, do you have 2rs change?”
“Yes… here”
“Thanks.” She handede it over to the counter and turned back, “Let’s go.”

The station was a little crowded even at this hour. Probably lot of people today were going late, may be due to rains. “Will the trains be crowded Amar?” Asked Pallavi. Amar just shrugged his shoulders. His mind was occupied and suddenly he had nothing to speak. The train timing board was showing Borivali local next, arriving in 3 minutes. Pallavi in the mean while was gazing around and throwing generic statements about the crowd and Mumbai. Suddenly there was the announcement of the train’s arrival. It woke Amar up.

“Pallavi, I wanted to ask you…”
“Amar I think I should go in the ladies compartment.”
“Ah! Okay may be.” Before Amar could complete the sentence, he saw Pallavi pacing ahead. Now he saw the train approaching the platform.
“Hey wait… I wanted to know your mobile number.”
“You what?”
“Your number…” and he signalled it with his hand.
“Oh… its nine eight nine two…” and the train blew its trumpet.
“What?” They had now reached the location where ladies compartment would halt. The train had chugged its way in.
“Nothing, you just board the train.” She smiled, “See you at the Malad Station” and the crowd pushed Pallavi inside the compartment.

Amar suddenly realised that he had to board the train too. He dashed towards the next available compartment. However the train was already over crowded and people were still trying to get in. He pushed and shoved is way ahead just when the train startyed. But he slipped. At that very moment he saw the train gather speed. One by one the compartments passed him… leaving a smile on his face. It was like a dream and the midnight rain.

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