It was midnight and she stood in the rain, wearing pink. She tried to pin up her frizzy hair but the mushroom-colored clip was too small. A Sumo whizzed past, dunking heavily into a puddle near her. Grimacing, she stepped aside. Her chartreuse skirt was splattered. She looked around for a safe spot, amidst the Hades- type potholes. A few bystanders glanced at her and walked on. A man in a yellow vest, spit next to her and scurried away when he realized she would probably shove him.
She settled down and folded her arms across her chest. It was late, after all. There was a bustle, of course, but she would rather be home. In the couch. In her bed. On her terrace or in her garden or in her kitchen… brewing a cup of orange-cinnamon tea to wind down for the night. Any place, where this wet, cold aloneness didn’t cling and swirl around her. Or drench her little by little.
He’d be coming soon. That’s what he’d said a half hour ago. To be fair, it wasn’t his fault. Saki Naka in the best of times is a place best avoided. During rains, it takes on the fullness of a Russian novel misery. Her body ached and her throat hurt. She felt a dry, parched fever snaking up her bones. She looked to her left, willing him to come faster. She looked to her left and started crying.
Life hadn’t been tough, really. But it had been life, nevertheless. Difficult to please. Nothing was ever enough. If she gave it every single minute of her day, it squeezed out some more. If she gave it every ounce of her energy, it shaved off slivers from somewhere and gulped it down. She was tired and lost.
Her friends and family had been good, but distant. She would’ve liked for someone to get closer – to get too close for comfort, even. But no-one was willing to take the chance now. Not after the way she had lashed out a few months ago. She had expected people to be stronger. Not snap and break at the hint of a little temper. That was the problem, though - she’d expected.
Expectations seemed to be tricky things. Like skis. It’s not like no-one else had expectations. But they clearly knew what to do them…ride them and go gliding down slopes. She, on the other hand, tumbled into a heap the second she put them on.
Her eyes had started burning now. The throat hurt some more. She could feel the fever line her clothes. She was so tired. If she didn’t sit in the next few minutes, she’d buckle over. Her mobile hadn’t rung yet. Where was he? Involuntarily, she sobbed and choked and scared a wet mongrel away.
There he was. She could make out the faded silver stripes on his light blue windcheater. He was trying to weave in and around trucks. The poor guy really was trying to reach her as fast as he could. She cupped her palm to get a handful of rain and wiped her eyes.
In the next five minutes he was there. She sat on the bike, handing over her bag so he could put it in the front. He revved the bike, but went a couple of metres ahead and stopped. He turned back and talked to her. She beamed…like it was summer in the valleys. She chatted… like it was a high school slumber party. He leaned closer, trying to catch on to every word that was getting drowned in the thunder. They high-fived a little later and he drove off. He was happy, so happy to be with her.
In a week, his friends would ask him what he’d seen in his future bride. “I’ve always seen her smiling,” he’d say.
In five years, she’d think why she’d left her husband on a Tuesday afternoon. “He was never around when I cried”, she’d remember.