The blue skies were now almost dark grey with all the clouds that had gathered. It looked like another rainy day. He cursed under his breath for having worn his new pointed formal shoes before checking the weather. It was not like he would be chauffeured for his meetings through the day. He would have to take the public transport and he loathed it more than the icky rains that would undoubtedly ruin his crisp formal attire. On top of everything he had to be on time for his dinner with the NRI boss who was coming down for the appraisal of his employees the next day. It was doubly important to impress him and his wife even if he got stuck under the grey skies.
She’d had a particularly bad day in office. From the morning nothing had gone right. It seemed like she had got out of the wrong side of the bed. The milk she was boiling for her morning tea had split and it had spoilt her mood. She had missed her bus and was thus late to reach the office. That she was stealthily reading a novel on her Kindle in office and she’d not noticed her boss standing beside her and had ticked her off for ‘unofficial behavior’ in office was an additional black mark on her day. She thought it wise to leave office early that day and head home so she could finish her novel and to avoid any further mishaps. Her day brightened the moment she stepped out of her glass walled concrete prison upon seeing the skies that turned a dark shade of grey. Nothing could make her happier than the rains and the heavenly petrichor that filled her senses.
It was only 4.00 pm but the bus stop was almost getting crowded. There was a school nearby and it had just shut for the day exhaling scores of children. The queue was long and it looked like a long wait before the bus would come. She leaned onto a pillar and took out her Kindle. Any time was reading time.
She kept her curly hair open and swept to one side, revealing a swan like neck that angled to one side as if she was cradling a phone between her ear and her shoulder. He tried hard to get a glimpse of that face, one look was all he wanted. Instead all he could make out were her silver jhumki and an incomplete view of her side profile. The school kids and their bags standing in the queue between her and him did not help either. There was a low rumble in the skies. He shot an upward glance as if begging the god’s not to send the impending rain.
The bus didn’t take long and slowly rumbled into the shelter. She followed the kid in front of her and got in to the bus, her reader in one hand and the other hand tapping the seat headrests as she went ahead in search of a window seat. By the time he got in, all the seats were taken. All but one.
He went and sat beside Ms Mystery who looked busy with her fancy e-reader.
“Excuse me…miss… is this seat taken?” He asked out of courtesy.
“Nope” she’d said not even giving him a customary glance.
“Do you mind if I..”
“Please, sit down. This is not my father’s bus for you to take permission.” She hated being disturbed when she was reading.
‘What a female. So much for the mystery of the mystery girl, she seems to be more miserable than mysterious’ he thought as he planted himself firmly on the seat.
As an afterthought, she looked at him and offered her hand as an apology “Hi! I’m sorry I was rude..been having a bad day in office”
“Alright” showing full attitude and pretending he was offended by her behaviour.
“Hey c’mon…. I’m really sorry” she’d said taking off her purple almond shaped thick framed glasses and smiling at him.
He was lost in those large shapely eyes outlined by the dark kohl that matched her skin. The dimples when she smiled made him want to jump right in and lose himself.
Trying not to portray himself a fool, he managed to smile back and shake her hand.
‘Wow this girl can talk!’ he thought while nodding to all that she was saying. They had met hardly ten minutes back and she was already talking to him like he was her long lost friend.
‘Such a nice guy, he listens to all my chatter so attentively. I thought God had stopped making these kind of men.’
“Hey am I boring you?” she asked suddenly feeling that she would be the reason for an innocent man’s death from boredom.
“No it’s alright. I love listening to you” he’d blurted out without thinking his words through.
“Excuse me?” she raised an eyebrow.
“I said I enjoy listening to you talk. Damn it’s going to rain. This traffic will make me miss my meeting if it goes like this.”
“There’s no point banging your head, it will move when it has to. Just try to relax”
“Is that why you are reading? To relax?”
“So what do you do?” she seemed to not like his question and fired another one at him.
“RKC Consultants. I handle their…”
She cut his sentence midway, but he did not seem to mind. “Oh the building with blue glass windows on MG Road… Isn’t it hot inside? It looks like a furnace from outside.”
He noticed how the tiny bells of her jhumka tinkled whenever she talked and how her dimples changed shape with the different words she uttered. The faint but pleasing smell of roses distracted him. He did not know whether to lose himself in her words or to admire her dark golden skin that complemented her curly hair and her silver jhumka.
“Heyy… isn’t it your stop? Aren’t you getting down?” It was only when she pointed out that he realized the traffic jam was no longer there and that he had reached his destination.
“Oh yes, thanks so much. By the way, I am Pratiik.”
“Okay okay, go now.” He was embarrassed about her having to drive him away. Would she have thought of him as a roadside romeo who did not know how to behave around girls? He never wanted to leave such an impression on her. He alighted with his laptop bag slung on one shoulder.
Did the rain begin or his phone beep first he did not know. But that day certainly changed the way he felt about rain embracing him with all its might. She gazed out happily into the rain filling the puddles and the kids bouncing on the road, knowing for sure that he would accept her friend request and that their story had just begun.
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