She stepped out into the torrential showers, holding her umbrella tightly, so that the strong winds didn’t carry it off with them. She had waited all of forty five minutes for the raging gray clouds to calm down. But today, they had an agenda of their own. The sun was there behind them somewhere, had to be, it was just noon. But it was evidently fighting a losing battle against the thickening storm.
Clutching at the pleats of her crimson saree, to prevent the lapping muddy waters from devouring them, she waded in her strapped heels through ankle high flowing waters. A squint through the silver slashes of raindrops, revealed no taxis or rickshaws in sight. She sighed inwardly and kept plunging on. The cold winds wrapped the thin fabric of her saree more tightly around her, highlighting her curves to a tempting advantage and the occasional lightning made her look like an ethereal beauty struggling for sustenance.
Giving up, she finally climbed onto the slippery pavement and pushed open the doors of the nearest café. The already crowded café had no empty table to offer her. She took another glance outside, they rains were still stingy with mercy. Her shoulders slumped in despair. She cast one final glance at the people seated and that’s when she saw him. She had almost not recognized him. He looked different.
Yet he was the same.
She almost fled right out into the rain, when he turned and looked straight into her eyes. Confusion paved way for recognition right within his eyes. She stood rooted to the spot. He gestured with his hand, asking her to join him on his table. She moved of her own accord. She seated herself on the hard wooden chair opposite him. She gave a tentative self-conscious smile.
He had always known her to be a self-confident, charismatic woman. So this new shyness surprised him. The pull was still there though. She could still draw you to her without quite intending too. Her black eyes were sporting a sheen of tears, or maybe it was rain-water. Her damp her fell in soft tendrils on the nape of her neck, striking an erotic ebony and ivory contrast at her throat. Seven years later, she still made his heart skip a beat.
“Coffee?” he asked initiating a conversation.
“Thanks. Latte without sugar, please?” she almost whispered.
What was with the thanks and please? Seven years ago, they had been closer than close, seven years later they were sitting across a coffee table, thrown together by chance, strangers once again! Was there anything left to say? She was married, wasn’t she? She had left him for some other guy, hadn’t she? He was just being as civil to her, as he would have been to any other woman under similar circumstances.
And she was aware of that. She was aware that she was no more than another woman to him right now. Seven years later, it shouldn’t hurt, but it did. She didn’t no why, she didn’t want to know why. She was cold and his cool attitude chilled her further. She had left him all those years ago, so he was justified in his demeanor, but she still felt cold. She shivered.
And he could feel his hackles rise. He could sense her chill and something inside him wanted to do something about it. Offer her the blazer of his suit perhaps? Anything! But he just sat there and stared outside at the pouring rain. She was rubbing a hand against her bare forearm; a minute attempt to ward of the chill. She was not looking at him. She was looking out of the window.
Their eyes met once again, in the shaky reflection of the dark, rain-washed windows. For eternity neither could pull away. The arrival of their coffees snapped them out of the trance. She averted her gaze first. Something inside her coffee mug seemed to captivate her interest more than he did.
“Bad rains,” he said trying another attempt at conversation.
“Hmm.” She agreed, wrapping her cold fingers around her mug, stealing the warmth form the coffee.
He wanted to ask her a million questions, seven years ago. Seven years he still sought answers to those questions.
She didn’t have answers to his questions. Not yesterday, not today. She prayed he wouldn’t ask. But she could sense his glare on her, silently probing, burning with a desire to bring forth all things left unsaid.
The absence of words was made up by chatter from the tables around. She refused to look at him and nothing else around him was interesting enough to look at… but for her. Some equations never changed, seven years ago, he was trying too hard to hold her to him, seven years later he was still willing her to look at him and she was still looking for a place to run.
She looked up then and was startled to stare right into his brown eyes. She looked out of the window, the rain had mellowed to an active drizzle.
“I should be going,” she said reaching for her umbrella.
He wanted to say something to stop her, he just watched her collect her umbrella and head to the door. She paused there, turned looked at him and smiled a watery smile. She then stepped into the drizzle of a lazy afternoon, the gentle breeze lifting her hair off her face. She looked beautiful.
He watched her walk away and melt into the horizon.