The following is an extract from I Am Ahmedabad, a collection of short stories
I am a HLCC (H L Commerce College) alumni. I can’t tell anything more about me here; because I have recently got married and am happy with life. And the story that I’m sharing here is not about my wife.
We were classmates. We used to hang out together with our group and used to have our own share of fun. Our regular addas used to be Red Rose, Shambhu’s and the LD kitli. But we had never met alone. Neither at HL nor at any of those places. And we did not even know each other’s home. So, in short, we were good friends of the same group.
But that day, it was raining like never before. A lot of areas of the city were water-logged and it was difficult to move around from one place to another. Luckily for me, the scenario had got worse only after she had left home for HL. So by the time the rains had become really wild, she had already reached HL.
So there she was, stuck at the college with no possibility of her turning back immediately. Simply because the rain was way too harsh for her to ride her Kinetic Honda back home. More than the rain, the idea of getting stuck into any of the potholes forced her to stay back. While we did have each others’ numbers, I was not the first one on her list of speed dials. But after a couple of calls to others in the group, she came to know that I stay nearby the college itself.
“Hi, I hope your parents would allow me to stay back at your place if the rain does not stop” – she tried to joke. But the fear and irritation was clear in her voice. Fear of ‘what now’ and irritation for ‘why did I have to come’.
“Wait, I’m coming there” – I say, after a bit of, nothing actually. She tried to stop me, but only faintly.
I was surprised at myself for wanting so badly to be with her at that moment.
Luckily, the college authorities allowed even students to drive straight up to the main building. There she was, sitting at front door, fiddling with her cell phone. I had never been happier seeing her. As I said, it was surprising.
But what took the cake was the wide, genuine smile on her face the moment she saw me.
“Oh God”. It was beautiful. Her beautiful face. Her beautiful smile. No, no – her beautiful wet face; her beautiful wet smile. It was then that I realised how much I had waited for the moment, while never being aware of it.
“Come in. At least the car has music.”
She almost rushed to the car with her now magical smile.
I had never, ever had brought car to the college. Simply because I live in the lane next to HL and coming on a bike is much more comfortable. And since no one else in my group had car, I thought it was not proper to do that too. And now, she was in my car with all the readiness of a school kid.
We could not help but keep smiling while sitting right there, at the college porch. I once suggested going somewhere for a drive. But I guess it was way too much, too soon for her. And yet, being the insistent me, I did convince her to go to towards the CEPT circle. Once there, we did more of the same – smile, talk and give each other a look of discovering a new friend.
We spent close to five hours in the car that day. And nothing except my bladder thought it to be anything more than one beautiful moment.
Unfortunately, the next morning itself was a routine one. That was two years ago. But when I think back, I think it was love. Pure like raindrops.