Unplugging the charger, Tara moved it into her handbag and stood at the doorway of her room to take a last look at the small mess that was her abode for the first 17 years of her life. Losing their white shade, the walls had worn down, paint peeling off like a child picks at his wounds, shelves filled with the books that had always fascinated her, made her dream, the study table upon which had slept hundreds of time while reading the books loosing the comfort of the bed probably the hordes of letter and notes she was leaving behind in one of her cupboards from everyone at her school. A tear sneaked past her eyes, reminding her that just a few minutes ago she was telling herself that she wouldn’t cry.
There were scars hidden in the room along with some of the pieces that made her reminisce the joyous moments of her life. Taking a deep breath and composing herself she swished around and rolled out her luggage. The dampness in the atmosphere and cold blowing winds as if the world her did not want her to go.
The first month at college had passed. It was everything that she had ever dreamed of how college would be. Roommates that were always fun to hang out with, the classes that were interesting and full of discussions, the rush she had when she bunked classes for the first time, the insanely good food of the canteen and fast paced life of Mumbai. There was suddenly so much going on her in life that she was hardly able to cope up. Her life was now the way she had wanted it to be. No more small town bullshit, she finally could eat at Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and every other fast food joint that she had only heard of from the commercials.
Her exams had just gotten over, the first semester came to an end. She was leaving for her hometown after 2 days. Taking a break from all her studies and hectic lifestyle, she went to the place that provided her the solitude she wanted, Marine Drive. Tara could sit at the place for hours on, doing nothing yet there was peace there, the kind of peace that made you calm down extremely and watching the waves crash the surface of the rocks soothed your body, mind and soul. Walking along the lines, she saw a new cafeteria that had just opened up. Walking in the cafe, she took a corner spot and started to read the old classic that she always kept with herself but never read. Today she was going to start Emma by Jane Austen. Ordering a simple cappuccino, putting the jute bag down, she started reading. A smile often passed her pink lips and often a frown as well. Looking up as her drink arrived, her eyes fell on the guy across the table reading a Tolstoy, Anna Karenina to be precise. Intrigued by the way he was holding the book and slowly turning pages and smiling making me question what was it about the Russian girls antics that made him purse his lips that way. Sipping her coffee as she constantly looked at the boy, turning pages, changing expressions from a faint smile to a frown, there was something about the guy that was quite extraordinary. She did not know what yet, but yes there was something. Maybe it was his glasses or the way that his hair curled at the right angles. Tara had given up wondering what and was happy at simply looking across her table. He kept reading. She kept looking. Almost suddenly, probably to take a break from his reading, he looked up from the book and saw Tara looking at him. Caught completely off-guard, Tara fumbled and her eyes darted to the next table. Her heart thumping and her senses on high, she thought of stealing a quick glance wondering if she had made a complete fool of herself or not. Trying to look from the corner of her eye, she turned towards the guy only to see the guy looking at her in a bemused expression. Huffed, she started gathering her belongings and stuffed into her jute bag as fast as she could and got up to leave. While on the way out, she looked at the guy for a brief moment and was almost sure she saw him smiling at her.
Fast forwarding across the semester breaks, she was glad to be home. Glad to be back to the comforts of her mothers lap, where she got to eat lip smacking delicacies, hear her stories while she oiled her hair, telling her all about the college, the huge city that is Mumbai and how everything was so much different yet so much better there. Arriving a few days early for the second semester, Tara settled herself in the new rooms that were allotted to her. After properly moving in and customizing everything according to the way she liked on her side of the bed, she decided to go for the peace and quiet at the Marine Drive, maybe buy some books and hang out at the cafeteria. Buying books was probably Tara always dreaded yet wanted to do it every once in a while. Choosing only a couple from thousands of books was not the kind of commitment she looked for. There were so many books that were there to blow her mind away, so many books that had the power to change her perspective of the world, so many books that possessed so many raw emotions. Sigh, only a limited to read.
Finally picking up And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseinni, she headed out to the same cafeteria and started to indulge in the world of pre and post war Afghanistan. Disturbed by the waiter who arrived with her coffee, she looked puzzled and said, ” But I did not order anything as of yet. You have the wrong table I guess.” Waiter: ” No ma’am, I have the correct table. This coffee was sent over by that guy in the blue shirt.” Tara looked across the table to see the same old guy she saw reading Ana Karenina a couple of months back and smiling at him. Mouthing a thank you, she accepted the coffee. Moving across the tables, the guy came over and introduced himself as Shekhar Dutta. Striking up a conversation, she came to know that Shekhar was also a student of Jai Hind College. A meek and introvert who had a penchant for writing, Shekhar was slowly moving up the ranks in the college editorial team and was rarely seen in the campus for his works were so busy. Now knowing the fact that, Shekhar was in her college, Tara used to meet with him regularly, advice him on his articles, hang out around Marine Drive and the college cafeteria talking about all kinds of books. Their new reads, their favorite authors etc. The words never seemed to escape them and the conversations carried on and on. Slowly and slowly conversations moved from books to their personal life and soon both of them realized that they started to have feelings for the other but were both shy to admit them. Finally one day, Shekhar’s acceptance at the MBA arrived and he could not leave without telling Tara what he actually felt for her. It was the monsoon season in Mumbai. Rains lashed across the city. It was the night before he was supposed to leave. Calling up Tara he requested to come near the campus gates. Holding her hands, he started to tel her how her smile and the way she was reading her Emma made his day. He had seen her in the college a couple of times but was vary of approaching her. Being an introvert had its own backward points. He told her how sending her the coffee that time, made him weak and how he kept sweating. It was not because of the faulty air conditioning of the cafeteria. Slowly he told her how he started to like her more everyday that he spent with her, every moment was one he wished he could relive again. Finally the three words he wanted to say escaped his mouth. Looking up at Tara he asked, “Do you love me the same way in which I love you Tara?” Overcome with emotions and shock, Tara could only manage a meek Yes and then they kissed in the rains, under the dark and heavy clouds. It was a dream come true for Tara. Being kissed in the rains. Being loved by the person she started to love so much.
Please read the next part here.