Saturday, December 4, 2010

Story written by : M.K. Chandrasekharan
: Suresh M.G

This rain was unexpected. And it came when he was about to leave office.

This rain is not seasonal. There was no indication of any rain. No clouds had gathered
even in the remotest corners. As per the morning weather forecast dry climate and
clear sky was to continue for another three to four days. I believed the forecast. Else I
would have carried an umbrella.

He stood there, in the office veranda. He looked up, at the sky. It was clouded. Very
clouded. Clouds were rushing to capture all sides of horizon. They were getting darker
than they should have been. The weather forecast had withstood its life till noon. The
sky was clear and blue. But, suddenly then on, the clouds leashed their attack on the

He looked to both sides of the road. It was empty.

Rain was unleashing its fury.

A group of people had taken shelter, like him, in the veranda of the building opposite
to his office. When he came out of the office he could see them clearly. But, as the
intensity of the rain increased, their figures went more and more out of focus.

In the bygone days the weather had a discipline. It would rain only in the rainy season.
There was a time period, a time gap and known intensity for it. Even the intervals
between rains could be predicted. The seasons could be predicted with much better
accuracy. The summer rains were also not different. Everyone knew its coming and
when it would disappear back into the dry air.

His eyes returned to the road. Suddenly he noticed a flood of umbrellas on the road.
Umbrellas of all kind and colours. They were dancing in the rain. He couldn’t see who
carried those umbrellas. But, could see their legs. They were trying in vein to cover
their face, head and body with their umbrellas. It looked as if umbrellas with legs were
dancing in the rain.

How did they earn umbrellas so fast? Had they taken this precaution of carrying an
umbrella? He was surprised.

His memory suddenly visited his childhood days.

That was a rainy season. A young school boy had taken asylum from rain on the
veranda of a roadside shop. The building, of which the shop was a part of, couldn’t
withhold the fury of the rain. Water was seeping and dripping from all parts. Wind
added might to the trouble.

He didn’t have an umbrella to carry. What he had back home is one made with palm
leaves. Gone were those days when people carried such umbrellas. But, once,
succumbing to the loving pressure from his mother he had to carry it to the school. But,
by the time he was to return from the school, the palm leaves had almost disappeared
and only the skeleton of the umbrella existed. His friends teased him for carrying an

He decided not attend the classes for next two days. His mother consoled him.
Threatened him. But he didn’t change his mind. Mother changed her stand and went
back to consoling. She promised him that she will get a new umbrella when his father
comes on his next vacation. He succumbed to this kind gesture and restarted going
to the school. But, the very first day, his journey to the school was obstructed mid-way
by heavy rain. He had no umbrella with him. He took shelter on this same veranda, of
this torn out building.

He was getting used to that atmosphere, that pleasant streams flowing from the cloud,
that cool breeze mesmerizing his mood. He felt that the nature was singing. It gave a
new rhythm to his mind. He was so immersed, soaked, in that music, when –

“Come with me, darling, join me in this umbrella, don’t waste your day’s class.”

He definitely felt disturbed. Did he feel bad? He was enjoying those once in a blue
moon moods. May be that was once in a life time mood. His mind was decorated with
a thousand peacock feathers. He was enjoying a sweet music, a divine dance. His
stream of thoughts got broken by that invitation.

He didn’t want to miss this fabulous sight. This fabulous feeling. But, this girl –

“You know, I really felt bad when you didn’t turn up during the last two days. I really
missed you. Why are you standing on that Veranda? It is as good as walking in this
rain. Come join me, I shall ensure that you reach your school without you getting

That was a life time experience. The first time when he rubbed his shoulders with a
girl. She without invitation, without he saying yes, came near him. And used her skirt
as a towel to rub off the rain drops nested on his head. She did it by force, one can say.
It’s true, she did take that freedom to use that force. Smell of sandal emitted from her
when she came near.

He didn’t have any other option but to obey her. He walked with her. She was elder
to him, by at least two years. And she by that time had established her superiority of

the two years. She put a hand around his shoulders and ensured that his head is fully
covered with the umbrella.

He was hesitant to walk with her in the beginning. But acquaintance made a difference.
He soon adjusted to the new found affection and then started loving it. And in his
mind started another rain. He prayed that this rain should never stop. He was slowly
moving to a different world. His prayers changed with this mood. He wanted this
journey, this walk, to continue, without an end. He wanted to walk with her to the other
end of this earth.

His thoughts came out a bit loud. “How nice would it be if this journey doesn’t end….
And if we could walk to the other tip of this earth. “

She laughed loud. “Excellent! I am happy that you opened your mouth. But – “
suddenly her eyes filled. She started to cry. Droplets from her eyes rubbed his lips. He
felt her sigh on his cheeks. “But, Unny, these are all big dreams. I can not even think
so…. Unny… I can not even dream so…”

The speed of their walk reduced without they noticing it. Without they intending it.
Rain was still venting its fury. When they reached near the school, she suddenly
stopped him. Hugged him. And pressed her lips on his cheeks. Her eyes were still
dripping. But she had managed to adorn a smile on her face. She handed over the
umbrella to him and ran away to the school.

He thus became owner of an umbrella. Owner of not only an umbrella, she had also
handed over her heart to him. She had cleverly casted this opportunity, and then ran
away to the school in that pouring rain.

That initiated a dreamy mind. Or, that was the reason for dreams getting initiated in his
mind. For sure, it did make a movement in his mind.

Later, once he knew and felt each hair on her body standing upright. On that day too,
while parting she repeated those words “But, Unny, these are all big dreams. I can not
even think so…. Unny… I can not even dream so… I like you Unny, still…”

She was right. Absolutely right. In the mad rush of time, he migrated to the city; away,
far away, from her reach.

The picture now recapping in his mind is of a hotel reception. The young woman
with him is not his earlier girl friend. She doesn’t make her presence felt even in his
dreams. The one who is in his arms is not just a friend. She is his partner, life partner.

And in his life, for one more time umbrella plays another inseparable role. When she,
the one who added value to his life, entered his life, an umbrella played another pivotal

They were vacating the hotel. He signed the bills and put exit time in the register.
He took her in his arms, picked the brief case, and walked towards the parked auto
rikshaw. His mind was still replaying the two days and nights they had spent inside the
four walls of a room of this hotel. She had established an authority over him in these
two days. She is not that bride who bowed her head, shyness not allowing her to lift
it, a few days ago. But in this short period she had conquered me, she had started to
own me. And her likings had started to become his, her dreams his and he was slowly
becoming hers or she itself.

They had reached the railway compartment and were in search of the seat numbers
they had reserved for them, found it, and were getting organised placing their luggage in
proper places, when she suddenly screamed… “My umbrella… where is it?”

He too was perplexed. Didn’t know what to do for a moment.

“My umbrella! It’s there in the hotel. I left it in the reception counter.”

He looked at his watch. The train will leave in ten minutes. Will he be able to make it?

She read his mind. She said.

“I got it from Singapore. I can’t miss it. All my luck as came after I got it. I met you
after I got it, the very first day I got it.” She continued to describe the greatness of that

It produces a good laughing sound once you press the button to open it. That would
be followed by a disco music. She suddenly stopped and asked him “What are you
waiting for? We have enough time to go and fetch it. Why don’t you go and find it
immediately? I can’t miss it.”

She was becoming more and more uncomfortable. And her change in mood was
visible. She will not leave him till she gets her umbrella back.

He jumped into an autorikshaw parked nearby and instructed the driver to speed to the
hotel. When doing so, his mind was trying to recall many a pictures. She had really
captured, conquered, him within two nights of acquaintance. They had dissolved each
other to become one entity within those two nights. His feather some touches awoke
every atom on her skin. He felt the increase and decrease in breath and gasp of
hers. She sweated in the waves created by him. The ceiling fan was in full swing, but
sweat streamed through each and every curves of hers. She was uttering something
in between. She transformed herself to a deity in the height of pleasure, and on other

That umbrella was a witness to all these. It took rest and enjoyed the couples’ act
watching it from the table nearby. The handle of the umbrella resembled the sweet
face of a young girl. Yes, that same umbrella, which she is so font of, was a witness to

everything they did, and everything they spoke, enjoying it with a smile and on occasion
blushing with shame.

He rushed to the reception counter as soon as he could reach the hotel.

“I forgot my umbrella here.” The receptionist pointed to the farthest corner.

The board in that corner read. “Please ensure that you don’t leave any of your personal
belongings back.” And by the side of that very board stood an attender holding her
umbrella. He thanked the attender and took the umbrella from him. The attender
requested him to sign a register kept by him. Before he could complete the signature
he could hear the distant horn of his train. The autoriskhaw which brought him to the
hotel from station was waiting for him. He didn’t waste time further.

He was anxious that she will be worried. The train would be starting any moment and
she would be waiting for him on the door steps. He encouraged the rikshaw driver to
speed up further.

He felt relieved when they reached back. The train had not left. He has another
minute with him.

He rushed towards his compartment. Suddenly he remembered….. remembered…
that he had missed to take the umbrella again…. That he had left it with the attender
while signing his register… He started to sweat… The train is about to start… The
signal has turned green……

He was in his compartment. He looked at their seat. Then… the surprise….the
anxiety… the worry…doubled. Their seat was vacant. She was missing.

He didn’t bother about their luggage. They were still there where he had left. She
may have stepped out of the compartment to wait for him. He searched. Searched
everywhere in the compartment. In the passage, near the toilet, everywhere. But,
couldn’t find her. She was missing. He stepped back on to the platform. Searched in
the crowd. No. She is missing.

The train had started. It’s moving. Where is she? How can he board the train without
she? She has not parted him since they joined together. She has become an integral
part of his. In the shortest possible time, she had become another organ of his.

She was the present tense. She made him forget his past and not to worry about his
future. She lived in the present tense. That made him light hearted. She was as clear
as the blue sky in her thoughts. She had started to own him. She became an umbrella
to him. She protected him. She decided, everything, and he just acted as she wished.

He couldn’t move. He was dumb. He waited. Don’t know how long. Expected that
any moving object will turn out to be she. But, that didn’t happen. She never came.

He understood that his wait was of no use. By the time he could recognise that this
wait was fruitless, his youthhood had got rotten. And what left were a few nostalgic

His eyes and memory returned to the road ahead. The rain had stopped. The sky is
clear. The sun was setting. And it was very hot.

Rain was a mirage. An illusion. The dark clouds made place for sterile, impotent,
barren whitish clouds. The nature was giving a wild laugh. The pouring rain and
numerous colourful umbrellas which came to his mind in that moment of hallucination
were mere wild dreams. The nostalgic memory of the train, the crowd, the railway
station and Nandini whom he misplaced somewhere…..

I will never get peace. These dreams will for sure haunt me throughout my life. It gives
me sleepless nights.

He didn’t have an option but to step into the hot boiling sun.

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