My Rainy Days

Shri Surajit Kumar Mishra

New York, USA

The thunderstorms were roaring. But it is the lightning that I'm afraid of. Every time a white streak shoots across the sky, I feel as if it would strike me. But the aim was never good that day; it kept missing my apartment room on the 7th floor and vanishing midway into thin air. It was Saturday and I was at home, writing a story on my laptop. As usual, the lights went off even before the first drops of rain had hit the ground. I turned off my laptop and started looking out into the dark from my bedroom window. It had been an hour since it started raining. It wasn’t raining heavily but even the slow and steady rain had brought streams of water onto the roads. I was listening keenly to the music of the nature and feeling the cool breeze brush against my face, which sometimes brought a few rain drops with it as well. I could see the vehicles moving on the road with their lights on. The rain drops were looking more prominent under the headlights. Though my eyes were following all that were happening before me but my mind had gone away to somewhere else. I had begun to recall all the rainy days of my life.
I was in my 5th grade when I was nominated from my school to participate in an Inter-school painting competition. Although I was good in drawing and painting, I had no idea how to prepare for the competition. I was hesitant of participating as I didn’t have even the basic things needed for a painting competition. But my father bought me the colors, brushes and a pair of drawing sheets the day before the competition. The drawing sheets were larger than the referred size. They could not even fit into the plastic bag that I carried with me. But I was all set for the competition when suddenly it started to rain. Though I had carried an umbrella, yet I wasn’t able to protect those drawing sheets and both of them got wet. Nervous and tensed, I got scared thinking that one could not participate without the drawing sheets. Luckily, one of my school mates had an extra sheet which he readily gave me and I could use it in the competition. We were asked to draw 'Bharat Maataa’ (Mother India) with proper scales. Though I had drawn well but I messed that up while colouring it. If only I had practiced more with the colours, perhaps I could have won a prize too.
A sudden splash of raindrops on my face brought me back from that memory. That was one scary rainy day. I was so scared when my drawing sheets got wet. I love rain and most of my rainy days have been fun, apart from a few, that is; like this previous instance when I got scared or the one following now when I felt embarrassed.
I was no more a kid then but hadn’t matured either. I was in my intermediate college and the trains were my preferred mode for commuting to my college. So many people travel by train ticketless everyday and I was one among them. I had got caught for ticketless travelling a couple of times before, but got away each time with some warnings. That day was different though. It was Raksha Bandhan. My mother tied me the Rakhi threads which my sisters had sent by post. As my luck would have it, I chose that day to buy my Practical Lab Records and asked my father for Fifty rupees. I had never carried more than twenty rupees with me until then. As usual, me and my classmate from the college got into the train for Bhubaneswar. It was raining heavily that day. We neither had an umbrella nor any rain suits. The first thing we used to do when we reached the Bhubaneswar railway station was to look for the Ticket Collectors (TCs) so as to make sure that we wouldn’t get caught. But that day, the TC squad was on duty and the TCs were everywhere around. Somehow we were able to give everyone a slip and had almost reached the main exit when we ran into a TC. Damn! We were caught! We were asked to stand aside and as the commuters, passing by, stared at us, we felt like some criminals who were on the run and had been trapped. We were also getting late for our college. We argued, we pleaded, and we even threatened the TC to let us go, but all in vain.  We were asked to pay the penalty to be able to leave. My friend immediately told that we did not have any money to pay the penalty but I remained silent. He wasn’t aware that of all other days I had chosen that day to bring fifty rupees with me. Getting suspicious, when the TC checked our pockets, he got fifty-eight rupees from us; my friend had those precious eight rupees. The fine was about seventy rupees but we were allowed to leave after paying the minimum penalty of fifty-five rupees. We went to college walking all the way in the rain, fully drenched. I felt so humiliated and embarrassed that day and I could say that it was the worst Raksha Bandhan ever, for me. The rain was not at all fun that day.
But it's not that one remembers only the bad days in his life. There have been some beautiful rain moments as well which I can never forget. My teen years were pass̩ by then and I was into my early twenties Рyoung, energetic and full of dreams in my eyes. Those were the days when I started liking the romantic movies. Every time I watched a romantic movie, I wished to fall in love. Rain is believed to be an integral part in such movies. There is something so romantic about the rain!
One day, while returning from my engineering college, it rained heavily. I kept my leather belt, shoes and my notes in the basket of my bike, folded my trousers up till the knees and set off for home, completely drenched in the rain. I was driving slowly and carefully on the highway enjoying the bike ride in the rain, bare feet, with no shoes on. The road was otherwise empty. Suddenly I noticed someone waving hands, on one side of the road at some distance ahead. I could not see clearly as the heavy rainfall was blurring my view. When I went closer, I saw a girl standing beside her scooter and waving her hands asking for help. I stopped by to inquire and help her but the moment our eyes met, I could hardly look away. She was very pretty and her eyes were even prettier. As I looked into her eyes, I could feel my heart beating faster. She said something but I could not hear it the first time as I was lost in the depths of her eyes. I just kept staring at her without blinking, unable to take my eyes off her face. She repeated in her faint voice that her scooter wouldn't start, it was getting late for home, and that she was not feeling well. She had wrapped her blue scarf around her face so as to somehow shield herself from the rain but with not a shelter around, she was drenched to the skin by then and was shivering with cold. Seeing the worried and tired look on her face, I felt sorry for her. I tried to kick start her scooter but could not succeed either. She didn’t have a cell phone at that time and neither had I. I asked her where she would go and it came as a sweet shock when she replied that she would be going to my town. I offered to drop her at her home and before that, help her taking her scooter to a garage nearby, from where she could pick that up later on. She hesitated initially but then agreed. Having seen me in folded pants and bare feet, she must have assumed me to be some rustic village boy. I immediately unfolded my pants and dragged her scooter to a garage nearby, locked it safe and asked the owner to keep the scooter for some time. I borrowed a couple of polythene bags and used one of them to cover my head and gave her the other. She found that funny but then agreed to put it on her head. As she held my right arm while trying to sit on my bike, I felt as if a current had run through my body. That was the first time when a girl was sitting on my bike. I tried to converse with her on the way but couldn’t gather enough courage. We were half-way through when she said that she was feeling sick and tired and so rested her head on my back. I could feel her warmth through my wet shirt. She was suffering from fever. I tried to drive faster but with care. The rain had stopped by then. We were a few kilometers away from her home when I stopped at a chemist shop and bought her some medicines in spite of her declination. Her mother was standing outside by the door, waiting for her when we reached her home. She got really scared and worried on seeing her daughter like that. After knowing everything, her parents thanked and invited me inside. But I was all wet and not in a condition to get in, so I took my leave from there, thanking them. While leaving though, as I looked straight into her eyes once again, I could feel something overpowering building up inside my heart, like I had never felt before, as if my heart had missed a beat once again. I wished I could stay for a few minutes more but had to leave.
That rainy day changed my life forever. A few days later, I met the girl once again. She was waiting for me on the same highway to convey her gratitude for that day. This second meeting led to several other meetings and gradually love blossomed. A few years later, we got married to each other. It had rained on our marriage day too. She always loved me so much that it made my life worth living for. We got two beautiful children and life went on so good for years, until another rainy day.
Me and my wife, Rosy were old now and our children lived far away abroad for their jobs. Though they called us every day but we missed out on seeing them like we could do when they were with us. After retirement, I had nothing much to do other than watching TV and visiting old age clubs whereas my love tried to keep herself engaged in cooking and household chores and at other times, waiting for me or for the calls from our children. One day I had gone to the club and was busy reading some story book when out of the blue, the sky suddenly turned dark and it started to rain heavily with roaring thunderstorms. I hadn’t brought my umbrella with me. I shouldn’t have come to the club, I thought; Rosy was not keeping well for the last few days. I tried to call her on her mobile but the call wasn’t connecting. I tried for the land line number as well but it had gone dead, thanks to the thunderstorms. I was getting worried but could do nothing. My neighbours were out of town too. I waited for a few more minutes and tried to call again, but all in vain. I couldn’t wait anymore and started walking towards home, which was a few blocks away from the club. The rain was not romantic anymore and I was shivering in cold. It was dark all around as the lights had gone off. But nothing bothered me anymore. I didn’t care about anything else, I was only thinking of my love, my wife, who was home alone. Just then my cell phone rang and I saw Rosy’s number flashing on my phone’s screen. It was still raining heavily when I picked up the call. I could hardly hear her voice as the thunderstorms were roaring in the background. I had barely heard her saying that she was in a lot of pain when the call disconnected. I started walking faster and rushed towards my apartment. As luck would have it, the lift was not working because of power failure. I asked the security guard and some first floor occupants to accompany me for help. When we reached my flat on the 7th floor, we found Rosy lying on the floor, struggling with pain. She had suffered a heart-attack. We immediately carried her to the nearest hospital and she was admitted to the ICU. We waited outside as the doctor attended and examined her. I was scared to death. After a few minutes, the doctor came out and told me that had there been a delay of few more minutes, they wouldn’t have been able to save her. She had a narrow escape from the jaws of death. I couldn’t thank the doctor and the people enough for their help. I was so dangerously close to losing my love, my life on that furious rainy night.
Another streak of lightning flashed across the dark sky and I was brought back from my thoughts. It was almost a year to the last incident. The current had come back. I looked at the table clock. It was almost midnight. Everything outside had gone calm except for the pattering of the rain drops and the occasional roars of the thunder. I put on the bed lights and watched Rosy’s face. She didn’t care about the rain and was in deep sleep. I recalled the first day when I had seen her. Even to that day, she still looked very beautiful. I lay on the bed alongside her and whispered into her ear, “I Love You”. She turned around with a sleepy smile and clutching in my hands, said that she too was thinking of the first day we had met. A tender charm rippled through me and I was filled with delight, as she gave me a hug before returning into her world of dreams.
Memories are something which help us remember what we are, the things that we don’t want to lose ever and the things that we love the most. These were the memories of my rainy days, filled with different emotions which I will cherish all my life.



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