Dear Friends, This is the second chapter of the story the Rainy day..the continuation. Please leave your valued comments.
Wearing the rarely worn suit on his shoulders. Raghav sat on his bed to wear his polished black leather shoes. He couldn’t for some reason concentrate. The noise of the rain was drowning him in thought. He thought of the first time he had realized that Anju was a special friend. Raghav had known Anjali, since the first day in college. They were in the same stream of Engineering and class. Through assignments they had grown to be budding friends with each other. Raghav started hanging together with this group of friends, and before he knew he had forgotten about all his pitysome worries about making new friends in a new place, that had haunted him during the first few weeks in college.
He and Anjali had clicked together from the first day itself. He found himself talking to her of his small worries, maths problems, Teacher bashing, self pity, etc..
One November morning, Raghav was hanging around the canteen with the Gang, and his eyes found Anjali, who was usually the life of the canteen lunch sessions, looking deep into her plate of dahi-wada and piercing it at one end and making it sail on the white ocean of curd. She smiled only when she heard some laughter around, but only at her now drowning wada. She looked up suddenly and caught Raghav’s eyes, he could see her eyes were reddish and moist. He felt that jerk under his navel, opened his mouth to ask something but thought better of it and put the morsel in his mouth and looked away, as if nothing happened. Anjali had realizes she had been caught and quickly started eating her sunken wada. She tried to avoid Raghav all day. Raghav finally saw her at the parking space, getting her scooty out. Raghav didn’t know what to do. He decided to act normally and approached her. “ Hi Anju, did you get that chemistry assignment done. Prof. Kadam is a hard nut, he is gonna check it tomorrow, and I haven’t started yet”. Anjali spoke with an unusually soft voice “ Hey Rag’s, hmm mine is half done, but cant get to complete it too.”
Raghav said “ If you finish it by evening, can you lend it to me. Ill just look and write my own, will save me from referring those heavy reff books”. Anjali didn’t smile nor did she agree “ Ok, see you in the evening then”. She revved up her bike and zip zapped.
Raghav was concerned, he had’nt seen Anjali like this. He looked at the gate, seeing her ride by it and kept staring, as if hoping to get an answer from the exhaust cloud she left behind, clouding his mind with some questions with no answers.
All day he was haunted by those moist, lost eyes, as if they were filled with some deep pain pleading to get out and scream, her rest of the face had an uncanny smile. He thought about Anjali, she was one of the decent looking girls, smartly dressed and always had a smile, her voice had a bubble and fizz that was missing for the last two days and today was the lowest of them all.
Late Evening he made up his mind and called her, half scared, half concerned “Hello” said a girls voice at the other end. Raghav barely recognized it “ Anjali???” he asked. “Who’s this?”. “Hey Anju, Rag’s here”.
“Oh Hi Raghav? Im sorry I didn’t finish that assignment. Have been busy with something else all evening”.
“Anju, do you need help, I can come over, you can help me write it. That Kadam will kill me”
“hmm… O.K. lets meet at the hostel reading room”.
“See you in 15 then Anju”
Raghav couldn’t get himself out of the concerned feeling. But while wearing his white sneakers, he tried to think that it must just be a bout of flu or some girly thing he couldn’t guess.
Raghav reached the reading room, which was empty. This was not the exam time and was not surprising. He cursed Kadam in his mind, he always starts these assignments so early in the term. Hmmf Wheres Anju? She must be on her way, usually on time she is.. but today must be an exception. Today Anju was not herself…
Suddenly he saw Anju coming in. She was casually dressed in blue collared Tee and below the knee jeans and a pair of slippers on. His heart sank looking at her face, it was worse, than he had imagined. Her fair skinned face was red around the eye, which looked puffy and definitely looked as if she was crying all evening. He hair were unkept, that made her look refreshingly different but for her red eyes. Raghav, raised himself just of his seat, to get her attention and waved. She gave the shortest smile possible. Raghav was now regretting calling her and forcing her to come. This seemed like he was the insensitive guy who just was concerned about the assignment.
Raghav made up his mind and asked “ Anju, you don’t seem well, your sure you wanna do this assignment. Im sorry for being selfish.”
As if out of sleep Anju startled and paused and then replied “ Raaag’s, cut it yaa. Im glad I came out of the room. I would be bored all day just sitting and …” She stopped abruptly.
Raghav waited for the silence to break, then awkwardly fumbled his bag for the topic. “Anju, just explain this pyrometric elements theory and applications. Ill pick one and we will discuss. Once I have some ideas to work on, ill scribble some thing and bring it tomorrow”
Anjali looked around and said “OK. Why don’t we sit on the porch behind the hall, in the open. This hall is too stuffy”
They walked around the porch to the roadside street light and the 2 feet wall which was well illuminated by the lights form the windows from the reading hall and the street light of the road. The air was breezy, Anjali was again lost somewhere far as they sat on the wall with the books in their hand. “Anju, Are you alright? You don’t seem well” said Raghav, bemused at his own evasiveness.
“ Rag’s its nothing.. just feeling a bit low” said Anju looking a bit flummoxed by the questions.
“Anju, you are not urself since morning. Whats the trouble? If you need to talk, im there. We know each other for months now, never seen you so low. Everything all right at home” said Raghav, searching for her eyes to meet his. She had been avoiding his eye.
Anjali, had always been comfortable around Raghav, and they had shared so much time. The thing that was troubling her was something that she had’nt said to anyone in her life except her best friend from her hometown, Meerut. She had’nt had any close friends in Pune, but she had made pretty good acquaintances and was having this good time. But Rags was different, he seemed to be genuinely decent and intelligent guy, a bit shy but very TLC kinda guy. But could she tell him what was troubling her, trust him, she knew she would feel better saying it to him. Rag’s wasn’t the guy who would judge or pass comments and try to help, he would understand. She had been in love since she was in 11 std with her school friend Param, her friendship with him, had been growing into new found feelings, she never new existed. They used to walk back from tuitions, pulling the bicycle’s with them, just to have some extra time to talk. They used to talk for hours when they would have the tuitions cancelled, time used to fly for Anju, and she found herself day dreaming and anticipating Param’s company. But everything changed after the 12th Std. She waited for Param to say goodbye before leaving for the hills to persue engineering, and she was going to Pune. She thought in her heart whether, he would tell his feelings, whether he felt the same way about moving away. Param, came to meet her and went on ranting about how he felt the new place would be, his excitement, his apprehensions, but never how he would miss her. Anju wanted to break down and confess her feelings in front of him, hold his hand never let him go. But Param for some reason, was so happy about staying alone and getting through to this prestigious college. That he couldn’t see her eyes getting moist and the lines on her forehead that were pleading him to stay a little longer, so that she could say all those things unsaid between them. But Param left in a jiffy and never called back, even when she was leaving meerut for Pune. Few days back she had called him, at his hostel, and he was surprised to hear her voice, and she could feel the distance in his voice. He mumbled something about classes and assignments and not finding time to call. Anju had broken down on the phone and let out her emotions by giving him a earful on what she felt. Surprising instead of feeling ashamed at not calling her Param had tried to defend and asked her to forget him as he would not want to answerable to her, and stop talking to him. Anju was heartbroken ever since this conversation, angry that she lost their friendship, by losing her balance and letting him know what she felt about him for him not calling her for all this time. All the pent up anger was taken out on him. Even after telling all this Param was unflumoxed and had requested her to not call. Did he hate her now? Did he know I loved him? Did he never love her?
Anju was lost in all these thoughts and had forgotten that Rag’s was sitting in front of her. She wanted this pain to go down to her grave, in secret. She didn’t want to share her tears with anyone. But then Raghav’s question was still hanging in the air. Everything all right? You don’t seem to be urself?
Anju had tears in her eyes this time rolling down her cheeks, she hadn’t noticed it until she felt something warm roll down her cheeks, she wiped in half way down. Raghav was shocked. He felt his insides clench, his heart sink, his throat getting dry and his feet shake. It was one of the saddest sights he had seen in his life. He felt his own throat forming a lump, Anju was hiding her face by looking the other way. Ragav opened his mouth to speak but managed nothing. He felt thirsty like a tired camel. “Anju, please tell me what happened? Maybe I can help?” he managed through an uncharacteristic squeaky voice.
Anju, through her wet eyes and sobs, told Raghav that she has been feeling a bit bad about how she treated a friend. She then explained the friend was Param and told him about how he had’nt called her and she felt he was moving away, and she felt sad about it. They were just very good friends but now suddenly she misses him a lot. “… I just cant help but miss him and feel bad about blaming him for not calling me, i should have been a friend and realized, he must be adjusting in a new place” she said and then her left eye had a stream of tears wash her cheek in barely dried lines.
Raghav had never been in a situation like this, where he had so many things happening to him, with the dry throat and forever clenched guts. He could feeling his eyes blurring, he couldn’t see Anju like this crying, thesituation and the story she told him, made him helpless. He couldn’t help her in this. It was this helplessness that made him so uneasy. If he could do anything to stop her cry, what should he say, he was himself, feeling like crying and screaming silently. “ Anju I can only say that, don’t blame yourself. It is not your fault , you should always say what you feel. You did nothing wrong and for gods sake don’t grill your self yaar. If Param is truly your friend he will understand and call back. I promise you he will. How can anyone be angry with you Anju? “ said Raghav. “ You, just don’t cry Anju, this will be all gone. It will be all right.” Anju turned to look at Raghav, his eyes were moist and red “ How can you tell? How can you be sure?” Raghav said “ Im sure Anju, Once he knows how much you love him, only a fool can not know, he will be coming for you and never leave you, he will know how lucky he is”. Anju, felt much better at this. Raghav words gave her a hope in this sinking ship and she clutched at it with life “ Promise, this will happen Raghav” Raghav felt a damp hand hold his open palm on his lap. Raghav clenched it hesitantly and reassuring clenched it saying “Promise, Anju, he will come back”. Anju managed a smile looking at Raghav smile with his moist eyes getting narrower at the corners. There was something in the smile that made Anju believe him and get all the worries thrown out of her. Her mood lifted and she noticed that they were holding hands. Feeling akward she quickly unclenched and removed her hands and caught the book on her lap. “Now lets get back to work”.
Then with an after thought added “Thanks, a lot Raghav” again just stealing a smiling glance.
Raghav, felt a feeling in his chest rise, spreading warmth on his clenched stomach and releasing all the tension and emotions he felt in the last half hour. He couldn’t help look at Anju, flipping through the page with a smile on her face. This was the greatest moment of satisfaction he had ever felt. This was the beginning of a special bond between the two that none could match.
Raghav found himself looking at his polished shoes, smiling. He must be looking stupid if someone just saw him with one sock on and a shoe in his hand and him smiling at his shoe, sitting on the bed’s edge. Hmmf. The smile would have to stick, he was visiting her on her wedding day.