I press my hands against the glass window that overlooked the city of Mumbai. The pelting rain drops that were hitting the glass window on the other side blurs my vision.
They always came in abundant, and flooded everything in its wake; both the city and my memories.
Growing up in a slum just behind the suburbs of a city which held two contrasting worlds in its womb, rains often reminded me of congested roads, flooding drainages, leaking roofs, and of course my occasional get away to the lake nearby, my hideout.
But rains also reminded me of memories that I locked off in deep contours of my heart, never to visit.
On a rainy day like this I had met him for the first time. On a day like this, he had walked into my life.
A decade ago…
Gazes followed her, scorched her skin wherever she went. Comments passed on, her pictures replicated in the walls of ladies washroom was not something she was as indifferent to as she showed herself to be.
Working in a university full of cocky jerks who were sons of wealthy businessmen and politicians had had its fall backs. More than once she was passed unwelcome notes pressed inside issued books from the library that were returned to her. More than once she was whispered open invitations of being mistress to some of the students that frequented the library more for different reasons than to study.
She had learnt to do her work without a word, and direct them calmly to the book section they need to go, instead of focusing on the jeers and stares.
As she passed a parked car, she saw her reflection and knew what made men jeer at her. Long legs, sexy body, full curves, she was described often as. The full lips, the lithe figure, was what the world saw her to be. Add a no background orphan to the status, she was perceived as an easy aim, only needed to be pursued with a wad of notes to get her into bed.
The pursuing has started three months after she had joined the post as a librarian and her indifference had both surprised, aggravated men, terming her as an unattainable catch, one only to be placed bets on, to get her into bed.
Her lack of exchanging words among colleagues or anyone at work, had added to her mystery that she was, attracting men to her like moth to fire.
As she walked inside the wet roads of the university, crossing puddles, covering herself with an umbrella, she had heard wolf whistles, and closed her eyes for a brief moment before going her way.
A rock under her slippers, a slippery step, and she came falling on the road, straight into a nearby puddle. She had heard jeers and excited whispers and checked herself to pull her knee length skirt down and trying to get up all the same time.
It was then had she felt someone towering over her. Looking up she saw a young man looking down at her, with his hand outstretched. Her hand which was fisted by her sides remained so as she got up herself and bent to fetch her umbrella that fell apart.
When she was to move ahead as nothing had happened, had she heard his voice for the first time.
“You’re bleeding” she heard him and looked down to find her knees bloody.
The only response he got was the sound of steps that indicated her departure. He looked back at the slim figure until she entered the administrative block before averting his gaze.
She pressed the stamp on a book before pushing it to the first year student, who came to get it issued.
She saw another book that was pushed towards her and attended it.
“Returning?” she asked mechanically, only to stop momentarily as she heard the familiar voice speak.
She didn’t raise her eyes for a moment, familiar as she was being detached and unaffected.
“Maan Singh Khurana”
She checked the database and rechecked the book that’s being returned. Sure that it was matched, she passed the issued card and got it signed, before pushing the book in the racks behind her desk, which would be arranged later.
She heard the footsteps indicating his departure, and raised her eyes towards the book, that looked fluffy, as if something was kept inside it.
Sighing, she pulled it back, not wanting it to be put back in the racks and circulated among students with whatever was there inside it.
Opening the book, she expected another letter or a picture that would revolt her, instead she had found a band aid lying in the book that’s now spread before her.
The distant horn of vehicles bought me back off my musings, only to see a sleek black BMW stop before my office. My hands that were outstretched on the glass window turned cold as I saw him getting down of the car, and opening the door for a girl to step down.
As I saw a little moment before the couple, where he caged her between his arms, with her back against the car, when the girl playfully slipped out of his arms, when the girl’s face shone with love and happiness, when his face masked with fake anger, couldn’t betray the sparkle in his eyes, it was then had I stepped back from the window, and walked out of my room, hastily.
“Ma’m?” my secretary’s puzzled voice barely distracted me as I spoke “I’ve some emergency. I’ll be back in an hour”
“But your appointment with Miss. Geet?”
“Reschedule and apologize on my behalf”
With that said, I storm out of the office, not caring the puzzled look of Laila, my secretary.
Mask, I had always worn, yet he was the only one to slip it off, always.