It’s raining tonight. . .

It’s raining tonight. Cold December rain.

It isn’t raining cats and dogs, though. Just the low humming rain that keeps falling incessantly.

It has rained after quite some time today. There is this smell emanating from the soil — that characteristic smell that accompanies monsoons.

It should be winter now in Guwahati, technically. But the weather’s changed. Global warming, I presume. It is not as cold as it used to be in Decembers when I was growing up.

Yet this rain, the smells and the sounds, the light blanket, and this dark night bring back memories of familiar winter nights spent many years ago at my grandfather’s place.

It is a small town called Coochbehar – a town that has always fascinated me. My best moments while growing up were spent there.

I remember how cold it used to be back then. How I would lie under the blanket and listen to the rain in the dark of the night. How the familiar smell would entice. How the night watchman would come right up to the house and frighten me with his blood curdling whistle. How I would hear his footsteps as he walked away from the house. How the cold winter wind would creep in through crevices of the wooden house.

Those were the best winters. Now the winter fog is no longer there. Things have changed.

Both of my maternal grandparents were alive back. I don’t feel any great sense of loss for them, to be honest. But a loss has been often experienced.

A loss of environment, warmth. Certain people have a certain aura and make sure that the places they inhabit emanate the same. The place has never been the same after they left for their abode up above.

Now as I lay in bed and type on my phone, I hear the low hum of the fridge, the wall clock ticking away. Mechanical sounds. There’s no warmth. No emotion. No sense of adventure. No cold wind creeping in. It’s a concrete house.

There’s no watchman here.

Why do familiar smells and sounds bring nostalgia? Why does it feel that things were always better in the past, when they actually weren’t? What is this mystery?

When it rained, and the tear drops fell to the ground. . .

I saw him cry today. This morning. He cried like a baby, sobbing uncontrollably. He cried, and kept repeating something, which I couldn’t understand then.

His tears were choking his voice.

Later on, I gathered what he was repeating to himself – “I can’t do this anymore, I just can’t do this anymore. I am just so tired”.

Six days have elapsed since that ill-fated day on which life had gone all topsy-turvy for our protagonist. Lets call him “Young Heart”. But, he hadn’t wept a single tear since that day.

He had tried to be brave. He had tried to keep his chin up. He had gathered his worn-out tools once again, from the debris of his shattered dreams. He had already started his journey to the future. Without looking back, for a moment.

He himself was taken aback by his steely resilience. Life had moved on since that ill fated day.

Or had it???

If you ask me, I’ll vehemently assert, “No! Since when did moving on become so easy?” I believe the only reason Young Heart had not broken down is that he had none who was ready to listen to his scared, tired, and defeated side. Young Heart was a strong guy, or so was the perception.

Young Heart was a lonely soul. He had a girlfriend, who was almost like his heartbeat. But, that girlfriend, whom I shall refer to as “Sweet little girl from Redland”, had seperated ways, two months back. So, the only close ones left were his folks at home, Papa Bear and Mama Bear. But, he couldn’t even dream of breaking down in front of them. His folks were nervous people, whose only hope was Young Heart. He certainly could’t make them insecure by showing his weak side to them. He was the strong pillar of the family, and wanted to remain so.

This morning, he had gone to a nearby hillock, for his regular early morning workout session with few of his close friends. Fun, laughter, and some early morning fresh air. Soon, the clouds started to gather , and the sky showed ominous signs.

In the next fifteen minutes, there was thunder, lighting, gusty winds and torrential rainfall. They ran for shelter, but it was a hillock and houses were few and far in between. They took shelter under the thatched roof of a local Shiva temple.

But our protagonist stood in the rain, with arms outstretched, face pointed heavenwards and screamed, “Wash away my pain, wash away my fear, my fatigue”. The rain drowned his voice, and his friends (who were inside the make-shift shelter) couldn’t make out what was happening. He kept screaming, and getting wet, and then, in a flash, he ran to the temple where his friends were waiting.

Before they could decipher the course of events, he hugged his friend, Prosenjit, and broke down completely. They were all taken aback, and tried to console him. They all gathered around him, someone clutched his palm tightly to comfort him, someone patted his back. . . but he kept weeping. He was very, very broken, and this friendly shoulder, on which he could rest his head, was something he was not willing to let go very easily. Until atleast he had wept his heart out. . . It was raining, and the tear drops fell to the ground.

My eyes were also moist. I was also wet. He was me. And I was him -Young heart. . .

I’m ready to fly again. . . . .

Standing by her window , Shweta could feel the cold November breeze on her cheek. Below her window, Guwahati was busily chugging along. Cars, scooters, bikes, people. People she didn’t know, people she had never met. But she found a peculiar solace in observing them from her window. Happy people, bubbly people, talking, laughing, holding hands….

In a way, this was Shweta’s way of coping with the lack of happiness in her own life. She remembered Girish’s face – the face that had meant everything to her, the face which was the centre of the circle of her life. The face that was no longer there in her life.

Shweta and Girish were college sweethearts. Two bodies, one soul. People often called them the ‘made for each other’ pair. They were the envy of every couple that was having issues in adjusting.For Shweta and Girish, there was no adjustment. They were simply made for each other.

Their courtship was going strong and they had completed one successful year together and there was one month left to their second anniversary, when all hell broke lose. Girish started ignoring her. The daily count of text messages began to dwindle. And suddenly Shweta couldn’t find Girish by her side anymore. She tried to probe what was wrong.

But Girish always evaded her queries. The distance between them started to grow. And one day Shweta could no longer take it and decided to confront him. She did. A big fight ensued. And Girish broke up with her. For no good reason.

Shweta’s whole world came crashing down. The unthinkable had happened. That they would split was never on her possibility map. They were meant to be beyond all these. But it was the truth. Anger, disbelief, sorrow, hopelessness – all gripped her at the same time. The charming, bubbly girl had now reduced to tears, agony, and unspeakable pain. It started to tell upon her health. The extroverted girl was now confined to the four walls of her paying guest room. Girish had toyed with her life for two long years. Girish had promised her the world, the happiness of seven continents and what not. And this is what she ended up with – tears. For weeks on end, she would not go out, trying to let the harsh reality sink in.

Then she ‘met’ Mihir on facebook. Mihir was Shweta’s school junior, younger to her by one year. They started talking on facebook chat, regularly. Mihir was a shy, academically gifted, and down-to-earth person. He was the quiet type. Soon they exchanged phone numbers and Mihir started calling Shweta on a daily basis.

Shweta needed a support and she confided in Mihir. Mihir stood by her like a rock. He would call her and let her speak, let her pain come out, let her tears flow freely. He would just listen to her, without speaking a word. And when she was done, Mihir would just say one sentence, “I’m with you Shweta”. Mihir was the quiet type, often struggling to find the right words to say at the right moment. But he knew one thing- he had to stand by Shweta. In Shweta, Mihir had found a great friend- a rare feat in his life. He was always considered nerdy. But with Shweta, it was different. Something magical was on play here. Mihir was slowly becoming aware of his feelings towards Shweta.

But he was scared to make any advances right now – he knew she would need time to heal. So, for 8 long months, he held his feelings inside, and continued to be the unflinching support for Shweta. Then , one day, when he felt Shweta had gained considerable strength, he proposed to her. In a classic setting, down on his knees, he held her hand and said, “Shweta, I love you”.
Back to the present, standing by her window, Shweta found herself at a crucial juncture of her life. The fork in the road was right here. Mihir had given her this new window of happiness, and through that window, she could see a garden of everlasting bliss. But what if he turned out to be exactly like Girish? Should she allowed herself to be hurt again by accepting Mihir’s proposal? She couldn’t risk yet another heartbreak. . . . But Mihir had done so much for her, and yet never demanded anything in return. It was a dilemma.
Shweta closed her eyes for a moment and tried to feel the cool breeze on her face. She had made up her mind. She held the rails of her window with both her hands and cried out, “Yes! Yes! Mihir I love you. I love you more than anyone else”. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She looked up at the Guwahati sky and almost screamed out, “Do u hear Girish? I’m ready to fly again! I’m ready to forget you, and give my life yet another chance. You have been forgotten Girish! You mean nothing to me today. I love Mihir, do you hear that Girish?”. The noise of the traffic on the street below drowned her screams and sobs. The girl completely broke down.
It started to rain.The people below started running for shelter.And Shweta stood there sobbing, getting wet, and repeating “Mihir, I love you. I’m ready to fly again. . .I’m ready. . ”