Aarav has always disliked the rain because of the unusually long traffic and the dirty water logged streets that end up spoiling his mood in the rain. And that day was no different.
How can someone say that rain is beautiful?
He wondered always, whenever anyone around him glorified the beauty of rain. As he struggled with the unsually long traffic while driving to the airport, his cell phone bombarded with several text messages from Mallika, his girlfriend. The first one reads:
I know I am no longer important to you. You must be dating some bitch there.
Aarav and Mallika had a long-distance relationship since almost a year. Mallika stays in Mumbai although she hails from Kolkata. Aarav was invited as one of the guests in Mallika’s college carnival. Being the publisher of a reputed publishing house, he was asked to judge the debate intercollegiate competition. That is where he met Mallika, who was anchoring the show. Her gorgeous features, scintillating personality and effortless charm won his heart in a jiffy. They started dating and after Mallika completed her Masters, she headed to Mumbai for a lucrative job.
Aarav paid her a visit almost every month and today it was her birthday. He wanted to take the morning flight but an important meeting compelled him to take the evening flight.
He read the message with disgust and aversion. Their relationship was great only in the initial few months after which the crimson color and the sweet taste of the relationship faded, and in its place there was a black tinge of over possessiveness and the bitter taste of squabble. In the profound core of his being, Aarav knew that this relationship had been already dead, albeit he was not willing to admit it.
The moment you stop feeling calm with the person you love and instead, an invisible air of stress and tension grasps you, it means the relationship has already perished.
As Aarav contemplated about the enigma of relationships absent mindedly, his car almost bumped into an old day. A young girl thankfully pulled the old lady away from his car, which made the old lady lose her balance and fall down. Aarav got down from his car with guilt and repentance clearly written on his face.
He winced upon seeing that the old lady couldn’t stand on her own. She was injured badly and perhaps would have been hurt in a much more severe way had the young girl standing beside her wouldn’t have pulled her in the right time.
“You M.r! How could you be so careless? Such reckless driving!” The girl who was not more than twenty shouted at Aarav. It was drizzling and Aarav felt ashamed of his act. He removed his jacket and covered the old lady with it.
“Are you dumb?” The young girl snapped again.
“Can you please take her to the nearby hospital?” Aarav asked the girl who was cursing him under her breath.
“You have such a huge car and you are asking me to take her to the hospital. Don’t you even have the etiquette to make amends? We both will take her to the hospital right now.” The young girl said and placed herself and the wounded old lady inside Aarav’s car. Aarav had no other options apart from driving them to the nearby hospital.
He looked at his watch which read 4.15pm. His flight was at 5.15pm. He was afraid that he would miss his flight and Mallika would literally fry him in her oven. His phone kept beeping with the abhorrent messages of Mallika, which he tried to ignore.
Finally, they reached the hospital. The old woman had a hairline fracture and was admitted for a day in the hospital for further tests.
“See, what have you done to her because of your carelessness?” The young girl said to Aarav when he was thinking to leave the hospital.
“I know. I feel really bad.”
“Thank God she is safe. And it’s okay. At least you cared to admit her in the hospital. You don’t lack humanity, at least.” The young girl said with a smile. Aarav noticed her clearly this time. In a black kurti and red churidar, she looked very pretty. Her hair was slightly wet and she had a small black bindi between her eyebrows that complemented her charcoal dark eyes.
“Here is my number and email id. I really need to rush to the airport or else I will miss my flight and Mallika won’t forgive me.” Aarav said as he handed over his card to the girl, who took it promptly.
“Naina.” The girl extended her hand towards Aarav. “I will surely inform you about her condition. You have a good journey.”
Aarav smiled at Naina and shook his hand with hers before he left for the airport.
Three months later
Aarav: It’s great to know that you have such a huge penchant for writing.
Naina: Thanks. I guess I met the right person that day who can take me towards my dreams. I am writing a novel and I hope to complete it within a month. Hope you find it suitable for publishing.
Aarav: Naina, I have already become a fan of your writing after reading your short stories and articles on that website called WriteUpCafe.com. Your writing has such depth and clarity.
Naina: OMG! You read my write-ups?
Naina: OMG! You read my write-ups?
Aarav: Yes, you have shared the link in your Facebook wall. From there, I visited the website of WriteUpCafe.com and read your stories yesterday. You are brilliant.
Naina: Thanks, Aarav. I hope you like my manuscript too.
Aarav: I can’t wait to read it, seriously.
Naina: I am so glad that we met on that day, although in messy circumstances.
Aarav: I think you’re in my destiny.
Aarav reminisced about the fateful day when he came across Naina. He missed the flight that day and when he met Mallika the next day, she abused him, saying that he was having an affair with someone. Mallika’s constant accusations, over possessiveness and clinginess were too much for Aarav to handle. They broke up finally and Aarav was more peaceful than shattered.
He was totally surprised at finding Naina’s email the day of his breakup. The email is still afresh in his mind.
Dear Mr. Aarav Kapoor,
I know you are a busy man and you must be wondering who this is. Well, I am that nagging girl who dragged you to the hospital with the old lady who had an accident because of your reckless driving. Remember?
This is to let you know that I have dropped her home today. I was really disheartened to find that she has no one of her own. Her son has left her and got settled in Amsterdam with his wife and daughter. How ruthless the world is becoming!
She is really a sweet lady. I have decided to visit her every day after my job. For your information, I am a social worker and I work with a reputed NGO. Doctor told that her fracture will take a month to heal. Thankfully, she has a maid in her house who is looking after her.
I know it’s too much to ask, but if possible, pay her a visit at your leisure. I have mentioned her address below.
Have a great day,
Aarav was touched by the girl’s goodness. He visited the old lady one morning with a bunch of lilies and apologized to her. Since then, he was talking to Naina regularly in email and chats albeit they haven’t met in person again. Naina told him about her dream of becoming a writer and said that she would meet him after she completes her novel and sends it to him.
He told her about his recent break up and she listened to it with patience and said the words which soothed him instantly:
“You are right in your place. Mallika was right in her place. I feel we all know a different way of loving someone. Sometimes it is in sync with the person we love and sometimes it is not. Therefore, it’s none of your fault.”
Aarav wanted to meet Naina and spend time with her as her presence and words had an uncanny but a healing effect on him. He was hugely drawn to her, but he did not want to rush up things. He was well aware that Naina is a reserved person and therefore, he wanted to leave the matter in the hands of time. He waited for the day when Naina would agree to meet him.
Finally, Naina completed writing her novel and send the manuscript with sheer apprehension to Aarav.
“Hey, Naina.” Aarav called exactly six hours after she has sent the email.
“Yes!” Naina said with jitteriness that was evident from her tone.
“I have finished reading your manuscript just now.” Aarav said confidently.
“And…what’s your take on it?” Naina said anxiously.
“Let’s meet over a cup of coffee today. I’ll tell you in detail what I think about it.” Aarav suggested and Naina complied.
Aarav was exhilarated and so was Naina but, they didn’t meet that day. Aarav waited for Naina at the café where they decided to meet, but even after a long wait of six hours, she was nowhere in sight.
Aarav tried calling her but her phone kept ringing and then after some time was declared unreachable.
He came home and dropped her a bunch of emails and messages in Facebook.
Days rolled on, weeks flew by and it has been four months, but Aarav hadn’t heard from Naina ever since then. She just walked away from his life, unannounced.
He wondered why she had done such a malicious thing with him. If she wanted to walk away from his life, then why did she send the manuscript to him? It was just endless questions for Aarav, to which he did not find any answer.
Aarav planned to go to Singapore to his uncle’s house for a change as the sequence of events in the last few months were too much for him to handle. He lost hope in everything as the person who brought hope back to his life has left him abandoned, with infinite, excruciating questions.
He reached the airport with a somber mind. Suddenly his eyes rested on a girl who was laughing her heart out with a friend of hers. On a second look, he was sure that it was Naina. He couldn’t believe his eyes at the stroke of serendipity.
A plethora of anger washed on his mind. He approached Naina and said, holding her arms, “So here you are! So happy and giggly, after converting my life into dilapidated ruins.”
“Excuse me! I don’t know you.” The girl said, awkwardly releasing herself from Aarav’s strong grip. Aarav was taken aback by her nonchalance. At least, he thought that she would be ashamed of her act, but here she was playing the don’t-know-you game so casually.
“Really? You are such a player, Naina.” Aarav said the words with venom dripping down from his mouth. Naina winced at his words and walked away.
On noticing the entire scene, Naina’s friend decided to speak to Aarav.
“I don’t know exactly how you know Naina but it is evident from your face that you both have been quite close.” The girl said.
Aarav just looked at her blankly without speaking a word.
“You might not know, but Naina is suffering from short-term retrograde amnesia. As told by her doctor, she has lost the memory of last one year of her life completely after she had a brain injury in an accident.
“What? When did she have this accident?” Aarav was tongue-tied.
“Four months back. She was in an auto which had a brake failure. The driver died in the accident and she fell down from the auto, thereby getting a deep wound in her brain which resulted in this condition.”
Aarav tried to swallow the lump in his throat. How could he misunderstand her so badly!
He rushed towards Naina who frowned on seeing him.
“I am so sorry.”
“Just get lost. No one talks to me like that. Who are you?” Naina said with annoyance.
“Um…your publisher. You did not recognize me as you had a memory loss after your accident.” Aarav said, after thinking for a while.
Naina’s face lit up with Aarav’s words.
“I am a writer…really?”
“Yes. Just before the day of your accident, you have sent me your manuscript.”
“Can we talk for a while?” Naina said excitedly and then after a pause, she added, “Oh, I guess you have a flight.”
Aarav smiled at her and nodded.
“I think I am going to miss my flight again, because of you.” He said with a smile.
“I am sorry. I didn’t mean that.” Naina said, a little dejected.
“Never mind. You’re in my destiny, not this flight.” Aarav mumbled.
“Nothing! Should we talk about your book now, my dear writer?” Aarav asked, to which Naina smiled delightfully, with a silver light twinkling in her eyes. Aarav could feel his heart warm up with that saccharine smile.