The rain played a lullaby for the rest of the world. Not her. It was August, it was raining and she had woken up.

What time was it?


4:30 am –her mobile phone read. She didn’t know what to do. Maybe she could fool insomnia this time and sleep once again. She tried to sleep but sleep just escaped her eyelids. Then the usual routine started. Just like that, as if someone had turned on a radio play in her head, memories began to play. She was back to telling herself her own anecdotes.

 

xxx

 

He’d been waiting for her outside her office for half and hour more than the time she had promised she would meet him. She walked up to him apologetically.

“Angry?”

He wouldn’t look her in the eye. She stands there without twitching a muscle, not knowing what to do.

“I’m sorry! I just didn’t realize…”

“Shhhh!” he says looking up to with squinted eyes, so squinted they look like they would disappear. “I didn’t wait for you so long to hear your excuses, missy! Where do you want to go now? Want to eat something?” he smiles.

“No…”

“C’mon! I’ll fulfill your orders. I’ve become your waiter already, anyways!”

That makes her laugh and want to kiss him right there and then, in mid daylight in front of all the people. But, she isn’t brave enough. She wishes she was.

She wishes she had been.

 

xxx

 

They sit at the huge step behind the temple in the corner of the Patan Durbar Square: sipping ten-rupee-a-cup tea from the small shop below the Great Bell. Underneath the darkening sky, they chat their hearts away.

“I want to have ice-cream.” she says.

“Let’s have it some other time, you’re coughing already. You will fall ill.”

“No! I want to have it now”, she demands.

“No you’ll fall ill”, he says trying to put up a stern voice.

“No! No! No!” she says, shaking her head from side to side, trying to act like a five-year-old brat.

“Stop acting like a baby…” he says climbing down the step, standing in front of her to face her. “You need to take care of yourself. I can’t always take care of you. What will you do if I left you?”

She chooses to ignore that question. He sees she’s a bit bummed.

“Tell me,” he says, teasing her, “What will you do if I left you?”

She looks straight into his smiling eyes with her face that is trying to hide the hurt and holds the gaze for a second. Then, she suddenly jumps out of the step, dusts her denims and starts walking up front.

“Hey…where are you going?” his worried voice calls after her. He grabs her dangling hand and pulls her backwards then whispers in her ears, “I will never leave you, silly! I love you.”

With playful eyes and a big smile erupting on her face, she replies.

“I know. I was just getting myself some ice-cream!” and she bursts into giggles as he mellow-dramatically acts relieved.

 

 

xxx

 

 

She can still feel the tingling sensation of his warm breath bouncing on her skin as he spoke. She can still feel his comforting grip, the way he held her tiny hand (even though that was months ago). Lying there, wide awake that moment, she felt like she heard his heart beat and for one magical moment, she felt like he was lying next to her. Her heart knew no limits of elation for a brief moment. She raced her hand on the other side of the Dunlop. Alas, she could only find the cold.

The temple bells are ringing now and she can hear the same clichéd chirps of the early-morning birds.

xxx

She’s sitting in a restaurant, waiting for him. He walks in and she is relieved. Things haven’t been going on well between them for a while. It’s her busyness that got in the way. But she knows they will work in out. Until –

“I have to leave”, he says. He looks right at her, “I have to leave” he repeats as if the first time wasn’t enough to kill her already.

 She sips her cappuccino silently. She wishes she could say something to him. But she cannot. She just sits there hoping that the aromatic smell of the coffee could dilute the want of her to cry, that the bitter liquid could dissolve the bitter heaviness that had engulfed her heart. She wishes she could say something.

 She wishes she had.

He gets up to leave, frustrated because he doesn’t know how to react to her unexpected reaction. Perhaps he was hoping she would stop him. But she doesn’t. She wishes she did.

She wishes she had.
 

 xxx

 

She gets up now, for her daily morning stroll. There are not many people on the streets. Only sweepers, old men returning home with polythene bags full of vegetables, middle-aged women trying to jog in their kurthas and trainers. No one she is dying to catch a glimpse of.

Taking in the unpolluted 6 am-air of Mangal Bazaar, she walks slowly, keeping herself company. Afterwards, she goes up to the same small shop under the bell and orders tea for two…