The Morning After*
I started this as a Tiny Tale. But Anish Vyavahare added a chapter to it making it a collaborative effort and a bigger story. That got up featured on Protagonize’s editor’s weekly picks. I’ve just added the third chapter. You can read just my two pieces independently or read the three-in-collaboration here. Comments awaited!
His eyes open and he stares for a long minute. He’s surprised by his own surprise. It’s the same room that he has woken up in for the past four years, the bubbles on the corner of wall and ceiling as familiar to him as the plumbing woes that create them. His eyes flutter to his left foot, the direction, a book once told him, is where we look when we’re remembering the past. Then to the right, the direction of the future plans. He gives up and gets up, ignoring the protesting knots in his back.
And at once he realizes. He hasn’t been woken by the sunlight, most unwelcome to owners of east-facing bedroom windows. It’s the sound that has woken him up. Clattering on the tin parapet that the people below insisted on putting up last December. It’s raining.
He steps up to the window and waits for his eyes to adjust to the waking world. A few seconds pass before he realizes that it’s coming down so fast and heavy that the gray around is not his sleepiness but water, sheer water.
For the briefest second, he begins a smile, thinking the earliest conscious thought that occurs to a Mumbaiker during heavy rain. NO SCHOOL! But the smile stops before it reaches his cheek corners and he realizes there’s an investor meeting later in the day and an early morning chat with the boss to prepare. How’s he going to get to work in this downpour? He’d better carry an extra set of formal clothes, one part of his brain is already whizzing. And his hands reach for the side-drawer, groping in the musty darkness for the plastic shield for his mobilephone, lest he forget to carry it later. Survival first is the metropolitan mantra.
He should probably leave early to provide for any delays. There’ll be plenty – traffic jams, pedestrian snarls, late trains, buses negotiating puddles. As he leaves the room, his fingers brush the switch panel, turning on the light, turning off the fan and the mosquito repellent plug-in. Mid-automation, he swirls around. Even through the downpour, he can tell, the window opposite is shut. Funny. He could have sworn, it was open last night. Maybe she got up when it started raining and shut it. Maybe it was always shut. Maybe…
The doorbell rings and he rushes out of the room, all thoughts fleeing instantly. The monsoon is here and so is Monday.
* A story about loneliness and companionship, about the weather and workaholism, about life in the city we call home.