Well, there I was. Treading my way down the empty streets again. The sounds of footsteps on the concrete pavement were my sole companions.
There was no wind that night, only a stagnant damp coldness filling the empty void which surrounded me, mimicking a world which was as indifferent to me as was I to it. It held no mysteries in itself; only pain, disappointment and everything in between.
So there I was. On my way back to my mundane one room apartment, which was the epicenter of my life…when it started to rain.
Raindrops fell pitter-patter pitter-patter on the placid pavements and plop-plop-plop on my head. Whether it was the pleasing sound of the rainfall, which soothed my senses or the fat drops massaging my scalp and tingling, trickling their way down the nape of my neck: I don’t know. But it abated my gloom none-the-less.
By the time I had turned towards Harrington Road, a smile had crept its way across my face. The gigantic drops of rain kept on falling faster and faster, until it turned into an all out downpour.
I took refuge under a long row of asbestos sheets that extended invitingly over a General Store. Although I could’ve run easily to where I ‘lived’ (which was a few blocks away), I wasn’t in a hurry to get back home.
The rain kept falling pitter-patter-patter on my newfound roof. Such a pleasing sound it was; loud yet harmonic. I looked around and there wasn’t a soul in sight. Just the sluggish filter of mist and rain, blurring everything to nothingness.
I sighed and sat down on the cool concrete. Little streams of water had started to materialize on the edge of the street. They reflected and refracted the streetlights along golden channels, breaking feverishly into tributaries here and there. Jets of gold flickered and danced in front of my eyes in a beautiful yet uncoordinated flamenco. Then all of a sudden the lights went out. And as if by some instantaneous chemical reaction, the golden streaks turned into the silver of starlight. But the dance went on uninterrupted.
A cold wind had started to blow by then and I held myself closer to stay warm. As I waited for the rain to abate, the sound of approaching footsteps caught my attention. I looked away from the intoxicating play of water and light to see the dark figure of a woman emerging from the curtain of rain and into our now common shelter. I did not stand up, for the preceding performance had left my limbs in a blissful stupor.
She was brushing the rainwater off her trench coat with careful swishes of her hands. Her figure was shrouded I darkness and for a moment I thought she looked just like a shadow.
I went back to my show but it had lost its charm by then. It was merely light reflecting off the surface of flowing water.
“Got a light?”
I looked up and she had a cigarette stuck between her dark lips.
Life can be so clichéd at times.
“No”, I said.
“Never mind”, came the reply. And a lighter emerged from her trench coat to ignite the air two inches from her lips. She had pale white skin and light pink lips. A hooker perhaps; unheard of in this part of town. Before I could make out the rest of her face, the flame went out.
There was silence for a few moments as she dragged deeply on her cigarette. Then she exhaled the smoke through her lips, as she spoke, “Beautiful night, isn’t it?”
“Yeah”, I said curtly, not in the mood for a conversation.
She shook her head. “It’s perfect…but never mind that.”
A strange sensation of coldness gripped me. Had I heard this voice before? I folded my arms tighter but the coldness came from inside. There was something all to familiar about this.
She looked up at the asbestos roof and whispered,” Look at the stars. They’re all out tonight.”
Look up into…
My heart froze.
…the stars and…
It couldn’t be!
Life had just dealt out its cruelest cliché.
My eyes gazed longingly at her. A dull serpentine numbness spread across my body, slithering its way through the nerves. But I couldn’t look away from her. Terror and love prevented me from doing so.
Her soft laughter came through a heavy static, as if from an old forgotten radio. Three years. It had been three years since I had heard such a beautiful sound. But it seemed so sad and withered.
She bowed her head and looked down at the pavement. The cigarette fell from her hand. “Why?”, the shadow asked in sad and familiar voice, “Why did it have to end this way?”
Under ordinary circumstances my eyes would be welling up with tears. But you see, my nerves had stopped functioning a few seconds back. And there was nothing ordinary about that night…
…except for the cliché that it was.
The shadow sighed and put the lifeless cigarette out with its bare lifeless foot.
“Remember that night?” http://www.deviantart.com/view/6694742
How could I forget?
“When I broke your heart.”
Into a million pieces.
“But you still…you still loved me. Even after the…you know…and you came to see me all that time. I could hear you…and all the things you said”, she sobbed, “And I knew all the time…but could do nothing.”
My head was swimming; floating between a dream and something all too real to be true.
“That night”, she went on,” I…I said the wrong thing and…”, I was barely able to make out the silver outline of a drop, which fell from her cheek and broke into a million pieces wetting the concrete beneath.
As the laws of clichés that govern the universe would have it, the words were frozen stuck at the back of her throat.
Pitter-patter pitter-patter the raindrops fell, as I collapsed onto the pavement and the night swirled into blackness.
I woke up in a hospital bed and was promptly informed by an all too eager nurse that I had suffered from a stroke last night, passed out on a pavement, was unconscious for 18 hours, was lucky to be alive…yada, yada, yada…and…
“Could you please give me a phone?”, I asked.
Quite irritated by the way she had been interrupted, she handed me a cordless phone and stormed out of my ward muttering something to herself.
I dialed the number.
“Hello”, an old voice came from the other end.
“Hi. It’s me.”, I spoke, “How is she?”
I knew the answer but asked out of politeness.
“She passed away last night”, the quivering voice said.
I said nothing.
“For 14 months she was in that coma. And you came to see her all that time.”, I could hear her mother sobbing, “She always loved you, you know. But she never told you.”
There was silence for a few moments.
“She almost did.”, I said and switched the phone off.
Outside it was raining again. Pitter-patter the drops fell on, oblivious to the cruel cliché that was life.