It’s raining. A sheer misty curtain made of tiny droplets stands between my window and the world. If I look hard enough, I can almost see past the ugly buildings and the far-away hills into the past in a different city, where you and I walked together in the rain, refusing to take a bus and trying to shelter under my umbrella. Walking into class, late and drenched, and hoping no one would comment. Rushing as soon as class was over to the canteen for tea and samosa. Sitting in the canteen with a group of people, talking loudly over the water hitting down on the tin roof, sitting near the end of the un-walled canteen so that gusts of wind blew water all over us.
The rain felt different that year. Before, rain had brought dirty clothes and laundry refusing to dry. It had meant upset schedules and frequent colds and frayed tempers. Never had it meant this music that lifted our hearts, this excitement that shook our bodies.
We rarely got a chance to be alone. Sometimes, we would steal a kiss in your room, if your roommate was away. But mostly, we sought privacy in our walks in the rain, when no one would stand and stare at us, when we could talk of all we thought of.
Do you remember the time we danced in the rain? It was the first shower after a searing summer. It was a Sunday evening and we were all sitting in the lawn of the college grounds. We were preparing for the contests that started the next day. You and I were practising for the debate. A group behind us was singing.
The clouds took just a few minutes to assemble, and the rain pelted down without further warning. All of us were too shocked to move to the shelter of the verandah. We just sat there, the rain feeling our bodies. And then you got up and started to dance. I laughed, and you pulled me up by the hand to dance with you. Someone turned on some music. And we all danced till the rain stopped.
I was hoarse for the debate the next day, and I blamed you that we lost.
I lost more than that contest. I have never danced in the rain since.
I have lost you too. You are a near-stranger now, a friend-who-was. You will be polite, I’m sure, if we meet again.
But why should I lose the rain? I will go up now, to the terrace, and let it touch me again.