Short Story: Memories of a Rainy Night

Short Story

Memories of a Rainy Night

I

Amol had retired to bed for the day but was yet to fall asleep. It was in the early part of January. The chill in the air outside was finding its way into Amol’s room on the first floor of the office quarters. Amol was on a short visit to the site where the company he worked in was setting up a new steel plant. It was at a spot close enough to the nearby town to be accessible by car but distant enough for the nights to be deathly quiet.

Amol gathered the blanket tighter around himself. And it was then that he heard the first drop, falling on the window shade. Rain was not expected in the least at this time of the year in this quaint little township. Perhaps this was why the first drop did not really register in Amol’s mind. It was only when he heard the third or fourth drop on the plastic panes shielding the room’s windows from above, that it really struck him. It was actually raining.Raindrops bokeh

From under the blanket, Amol heard the raindrops. In the silence of the night, the raindrops sounded like bullets on the window panes and on the iron grills of the balcony.

Amol removed the heavy blanket, which was beginning to get snug, and pushed his legs out. Without fully realizing, Amol slowly stood up from the bed. Drawing the cream coloured curtains of the balcony door aside, he unbolted the door. It had started to pour heavily by now. The chilly wind sent goosebumps through his arms. He pulled the jacket from the chair by the study desk and put it on.

Cupping his palms, Amol blew into them for some warmth. The rain was lashing down unrestrained. On the window panes. On the grills. On the stone floors of the balcony. The yellow light of the lamp-post in the distance had acquired a halo-like glow. Amol leaned against the frame of the door and stared. Into the rain, into the distance. The quarters were built facing the direction of the plant but the balconies lay on the opposite side, which meant that the view from the balcony was blissfully devoid of sights of concrete and steel.

Amol forgot that it was a Tuesday night, that it was the middle of the week. He forgot he had planned on getting up early tomorrow. In fact, a few minutes earlier than this morning, as he had planned on getting a few things done before it got all noisy and busy. But on this night, it is not what he forgot that matters, it is what he remembered.

Memories have this strange property of association. Memories that were long hidden away in some nondescript corner of the brain spring forth when the right keys fit into the right grooves. Memories from long back, ones which you were not sure if they were still there. Memories, like clear reflections on the surface of still water.

II

Eighteen years ago, on a night as wild and crazy as this, Amol was sitting on a bench at a rail station. He was in college then. At the end of yet another incident-filled term, Amol was waiting for a train to take him home. He had taken a taxi to the the station with a couple of his friends, as their trains were to depart within the space of a couple of hours. Deepak, the perennial wisecracker, was one of the guys with him that night. Amol could not recall the name of the other guy today. Both of his friends had boarded their train a few minutes ago. With still an hour to go, Amol took out the Agatha Christie novel from his bag which he had planned to finish on his way home.

Before Amol had reached the third page, the clouds started rumbling. It had been raining intermittently over the past few days. The men and women in the platform, mostly vendors selling all kinds of stuff, started to gather their belongings and move towards the middle of the platform, safe havens under the roof. Within minutes, the rain was pelting down, washing the station clean. The sound of the raindrops on the roof was deafening. A cold gust of rain blew across the platform, sending goosebumps through Amol’s arms.

Amol slid the book back into the bag, closed the bag and rubbed his palms together. It was useless trying to read in this terrible rain. An unconscious smile lit up Amol’s face. Terrible, beautiful rains.

Amol stood up and walked towards the track. He did dot dare go too much further as the wind was strong and he did not want to be fully drenched before his long journey. Still, it was difficult to resist the temptation of feeling the stinging sensation of the cold raindrops on skin. Hence, caught in the dilemma, Amol stood a few yards inside the edge of the roof, where the wild wind brought him splatters of rain now and then.

He looked across the rain towards the facing platform. The rain was making it difficult to even read the giant clock on the platform across. And it was then that Amol suddenly saw her. The girl in white. Her slender form leaning gracefully against a pillar close to the stairs. A bag slung on her left shoulder. Her braid hanging over her right shoulder. Her arms crossed gently across her chest. In her pristine all-white outfit, through the rain, she was almost like an apparition, almost not real.

Amol never liked the habit of staring, or people who did. But there was something undefinable about that vision. And it must have been almost thirty seconds – one could never say for sure – before he became aware of his own gaze and turned it away. He felt an ever so slight shiver run through him. It might have been the rain. It might have been the cold, howling wind. Or it might have been something else..

III

Next morning, when the alarm woke Amal up, the sun was shining brightly. There was little proof of last night’s rains.

Amol picked up his phone, swiped it into action and touched a number from the Favourites list.

“Good Morning ! Up already?” ..

“How’s Ravi? All prepared for the test?” ..

“Great! No no, let him sleep… Guess what? It was raining here last night and somehow, it reminded me of the first time I saw you.”

The voice at the other end said something. Amol chuckled, “Of course, I couldn’t see you all that clearly, but you know I like to count it as the first!”

 

———

February 2014

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