Rainy Evening in Mumbai: The Other Side

Pitter patter of rain is not always Bach or Mozart to your ears. Trust me. When you have slogged for hours and prospects of reaching home is somewhat bleak, you don’t fall back on subtle faculties of brain.

In my case, it was more than pitter patter. It was boisterous downpour. 6:45 in the evening. Three chapatis for lunch must have lost their way in my stomach by that time and new wave of hunger was making inroads. Between the exit of my office and auto stand is a distance of 500 meters. The bigger needles of water made the distance look inter-continental.

I gave up the idea of venturing forth after torturing myself with a series of ‘shall I’ and ‘shall I not’.

You feel like a pauper when you don’t have an umbrella to take rain head on and plunge into struggle.  7:50 pm and neither rain nor panic agreed to budge.

Breaking the fetters of patience, I went ahead and requested the security guy if he could lend me his aged umbrella that was eyeing me for quite some time. The umbrella was lying in a full-bloom position. The guy said a polite no and he had strong reasons (although he uttered them in an apologetic tone). The ‘babu log’ from other offices would ask for the umbrella to reach the parking area from where their cars will escort them. I was convinced even before he finished off with his reasons.

Waiting resumed, this time with a pinch of disgust. Why did rain choose to be so persistent?

I took it upon myself to find as many reasons I can and dig out my mistakes. My mistake number one:  Not thinking it necessary to buy an umbrella, especially when you are being chased by monsoon in Mumbai. Mistake number two:  Not taking colleague’s raincoat despite him being insistent.

Before the third mistake could show its face, two unknown faces turned up.  One gave a stealing look and muttered something to his shorter counterpart. In a quasi-suspense turn of events the shorter guy handed over the umbrella to me and posited, “You can return it to me tomorrow”.  Oh Lord! That moment of gratification came after a long hiatus.

I thanked him and made a move.

Getting an auto on a torrential evening is akin to wishful thinking, but as they say, “aim for the stars and you may reach the sky”, I kept my hopes alive.  Hopping down the street for almost half an hour took me absolutely nowhere. A feeling of a jinxed day was fast advancing.

Destination was still miles away.

If you are a newbie in Mumbai you can trust strangers to bail you out. A man in his 30s was steadily heading in my direction and he readily agreed to my feeble request to be my path finder. Another 20 minutes of brisk walk and he had already injected in me the tidbits of the place.

My impatience was shelved for long but when I felt there is no respite from rain, my replies to his suggestions started getting curt and impolite. Even he could sense that.

His ‘SBI Life Insurance’ umbrella was big enough for his short countenance but he managed it well to prevent water from rolling down to my left flank. He was considerate. I asked him about his bit of story and his impromptu narrative on his journey from Nashik tasted like hot snacks on a rainy day.

It was well past 9 when I could recognize my neighborhood. My companion halted and said he would take leave. His steps were steady and genuine when he left for those shanties. His rubber footwear made a squeaky sound as he hurried away.

Earlier, he had insisted on paying my auto fare and prevailed. He was all praise for his locality and people around him. It was with a sense of pride he narrated how happy he was with his four brothers staying with him and aged father trying to walk with his new crutch.

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