The Silence Of The Midnight Rain
The Silence Of The Midnight Rain12 mins 25.4K 12 mins 25.4K
The sun was shining bright in the Manhattan sky. It was a regular summer Monday morning and we were late, as usual.
“Aadya, hurry up. We are already very late” I shouted from the living room.
“I am almost done, Mom.”
Aadya is my 7 year old daughter and practically my entire world in New York. Every morning, I drop her to school on my way to work. As for me, I am an author and an editor at a major Publication House in New York City. I own a lovely apartment and I absolutely love my job. I love this city so I wouldn’t be lying if I say that my life is pretty much perfect.
So anyway, I dropped Aadya to her school and headed towards work. I always prefer to walk rather than taking a cab because watching people rushing to do their daily jobs is much more exhilarating than listening to the constant honking of cars in the traffic jams. It’s fun to watch smartly dressed adults hung over from the parties last night, rushing to work. I know it sounds weird, but I love to observe people. It’s like the whole world is moving and you’re just there, standing still and looking at life as it goes by. And though, no matter how much I would want to but I am hardly ever ‘standing still’; because just like all these people I needed to report at my office in time too.
As I walked past people on the busy streets of this beautiful city, I suddenly heard someone call out my name and I froze. A million memories flashed in my mind just like it had all happened yesterday. The moment I heard it, I knew. I knew it was him. And I couldn’t believe that I was hyperventilating; after all those years, he still had the same impact on me. Ten years of no contact, at all and not one thing seemed to have changed. I turned around to look at him as I heard him call out my name for a second time. I stood there just looking at him, incapable of saying anything. I had imagined this scenario every single day but never once did I ever think that it could come true. But, there he was, standing in front of me, in America.
“Hi! How are you? What are you doing here?” He broke the awkward silence between the two of us. And I pulled myself out of my reverie, to the present.
“Hi! I live here; in Manhattan. What about you? Vacationing?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m here on vacations.” He answered as if he was trying to hide something.
I couldn’t help but ask “Alone?”
And despite his usually chatty nature, he chose to answer this one briefly with a ‘yes’.
I did not dig deeper either. There was an awkward silence, yet again. And this time too, he was the one to break it.
“Sooo, where do you put up?”
“Ummhh me? Here only, nearby; On the Madison Street.” And before I knew it, the words were out of my mouth “In fact, you should have dinner with us tonight.” “Only if you are free, of course.” I added later, to avoid the awkwardness and to reduce the effect of what I had just blurted out.
“Sure, why not. Give me your address. 7 o’clock in the evening?”
“Yeah, cool”, I said while writing down my address on a piece of paper and wondering if his sudden change of tone, from happy to serious, had something to do with what I had said. But, what did I say? I couldn’t think of anything that’d hurt him so I let it go.
“See you, then.” He said after I was done.
“Yeah, see you in the evening. I shall get going now; I am super late for work. Bye.” I said, realizing that we had been standing there for too long and people were staring at us for standing in the middle of the street and blocking their way.
“Bye.” He said as I turned away from him, to walk towards my office.
The rest of the day passed in a daze. I could not do any work at office due to the lack of concentration and left early to make arrangements for the dinner. I couldn’t help my mind from thinking, thinking about him, thinking about the morning incident, thinking about memories which were almost a decade old, thinking about how strange all this was- him being here in New York and bumping into me. But, the fact was that despite everything, I was happy to see him; way too happy. And there was a part of me that couldn’t help but think that maybe he came here to meet me but, I knew that it was a ridiculous thought. He didn’t love me then and there was no reason why he would love me now, after all this time. So, I decided to put all these thoughts aside and focussed all my attention on making preparations for the dinner.
It took me a while to decide what to make for dinner but I ended up deciding on the Indian cuisine only- butter chicken, shahi paneer and veg. biryani, for he loved chicken and everybody loves paneer and well you need to include one item of rice. For dessert, I was too confused between gajar halwa and chocolate brownie, so I made them both. And anyway, there’s nothing called too much of dessert, right? It was almost 6:15 by the time I got free from kitchen. I had only 45 minutes to take a shower, get ready and also had to help Aadya to get ready. So, without wasting another minute I charged towards the washroom.
It was around 7:10 when the doorbell rang. I open the door and yet again, my heartbeat went up. It was so embarrassing, I felt like a girl in her teens. I welcomed him inside and led him towards the living room. Aadya was already sitting there. And for some reason, she seemed really excited. As soon as he saw her, the serious look from the morning was back. But, before I could notice further, he was talking to her.
“Hello! Who is this pretty, little girl?” He asked.
“She’s my daughter.” And, before I could say anything more Aadya went on to shake hands with him and introduced herself.
“Hi! I am Aadya.”
And just like that, they both got talking so I went to the kitchen and got involved in my work. I was so engrossed that I didn’t even realize that he was standing at the door. I didn’t know since when he had been standing there, but then when he saw me looking at him, he became a little self-conscious and started a conversation.
“She seems like a really nice kid.”
“Yeah, she’s amazing.” And I couldn’t suppress my smile at the mention of her name.
“Hmm. So, ummhh where’s your husband?” He asked. The seriousness was back in his tone.
“Husband? I am not married.” I said, without looking at him.
“Oh! Then? Umm I mean Aadya?”
I knew what he was thinking and more than angry, I was sad. I couldn’t believe that he was also thinking like everyone else. So, I looked him in the eye and answered “She is adopted.”
He was clearly shocked. He was struggling to find the right words when suddenly Aadya came into the kitchen and forced him to go out and play with him. I could not hold the tears back any longer. All this was so overwhelming; it was becoming too much for me to handle it and I wanted the night to end as soon as possible. I didn’t have the courage to deal with him any longer, without having to want him by my side forever. Just then, it began to rain outside. It was as if like even the sky understood my misery.
By the time we finished dinner, it was past 10 o’clock and it was still raining. Dinner went on just fine. We mostly talked about normal stuff and thanks to Aadya’s constant talking; there was no room for any awkward silences. He loved the food or at least he said that he loved it but, I think he genuinely meant it and I wasn’t such a bad cook after all. He stood up to leave, Aadya and I accompanied him to the front door and as soon as we opened the door we realized how heavily it was raining.
“How will you go to your hotel now?” I asked.
“I’ll take a cab.” He answered, unsure of the possibility.
“Stay with us tonight. You won’t be able to find a cab at this time and mom says that if you get drenched in the rain, you can fall ill. Stay with us na, please.”
Aadya hadn’t left any option for me, so I asked him to stay as well. At first, he was reluctant but with Aadya’s continued requesting, he eventually had to give in. I wasn’t sure if any of us were comfortable with the whole idea, but we didn’t really have an option.
I made sleeping arrangements for him in the guest room while he and Aadya chatted in the living room. They had gotten along really well. It was astonishing since Aadya usually doesn't get so friendly with anyone, so soon. When I was done, I went back to the living room and told him that his room was ready and took Aadya to her room to tuck her in. When I came back, he wasn't there in the living room so after switching the lights off, I too went to my room. It had been a long and tiring day but still, there was no trace of sleep. I kept on tossing and turning from one side to another but I couldn't fall asleep. So, I decided to go to the front porch and get some air.
I felt much better there, out in the open. I still couldn't stop thinking but the rain had helped me relax a little bit. I watched the rain pour as I stood there. I wanted to ask so many questions to him and I wanted to tell him so much but I just couldn't. I didn't have any right. I didn't know how much time had passed when I heard the door open and I didn't have to look to see who it was. He came and stood beside me.
"Can't sleep?" I asked, still staring at the pouring rain.
"Yeah. There's this question that has been going around in my mind. And I just couldn't sleep without getting an answer."
"What is it?" I asked, though I already knew what he was going to ask.
"Why did you not marry, Anika?"
I wasn't surprised to hear it. I had heard this question a lot. But, mostly I'd say that I don't believe in the institution of marriage or something of that sort. Ironically, today the reason himself was asking me why I didn't marry. He definitely deserved to know the truth. And to my surprise, I was not scared to tell him because what was there to lose? So I began:
"It's funny that you're asking me this question. Well! I didn't get married because I don't see the point in marrying someone whom I don't love. No matter how committed I would have been to that relationship, it would be wrong, completely wrong to be married to someone and being in love with someone else. I had made this decision soon after I had confessed my feelings for you. I had decided that I wouldn't marry till I got over you. But, I couldn't. I couldn't get over you. I'm still in love with you and that's why I couldn't marry anyone else. Please don't feel guilty or anything. I know you have never loved me and I understand that. It's my problem not yours. And I'm completely satisfied with my life..."
"But, I'm not" He suddenly cut me out.
"I'm not satisfied with my life. There doesn't go a single day of my life when I don't curse myself for not telling you the truth. I've always been in love with you Anika. Always. At that time, I thought it was the right thing to let you believe that it was one-sided because of the age difference that we had, because we were so different, because I did not see us having a future together. It seemed like the right thing to do. After all, someone needed to think straight. I thought we'd both get over each other and find the right one. But, I was wrong. All that thinking ‘straight’ was rubbish. There's hasn't been a day in the last 9 years when I haven't thought about you, when I haven’t wanted to be with you, when I haven’t wanted to see you. I tried to find you so many times but, none of your friends knew where you were or maybe they did not want to tell me. I tried to contact your brother but I guess he had changed his number. You are not active on social networking sites so that didn’t help either. And then suddenly, last week I bumped into your brother and it was then when I came to know that you were here, in New York. I did not waste a minute after that, 9 years is already a lot of time. So, I caught the first flight and came here. I didn’t have any idea that where exactly you lived in Manhattan so from the past two days I had been walking on the streets in the hope of seeing you somewhere. Anika, I came here to see you, to see how you were doing, to see if I still had a chance. I came here because I love you."
I did not know what to say, words had ditched me in that moment. I couldn't believe my ears. I couldn't believe that this was happening. Why didn't he ever tell me? Why did he wait for so long? He was looking at me, waiting for a reply but I just couldn't say anything. The tears kept on flowing and just kept on looking into his eyes, trying to believe that all this had really happened, that all this was the truth and not another dream.
"Anika please say something."
"I hate you. Why didn't you tell me before? I hate you. I hate you. I hate you."
All of a sudden he closed the distance between us and whispered "I know. I love you too."
In that moment I knew that he meant each and every word of what he had said. For the rest of the night we just stood there, in each other's arms, watching the rain pour. None of us said anything, for this silence was worth more than a thousand words.