Then there was rain. It was expected to come in when the summer gets over. Usually the first shower will drench the loneliness of the city at night. But today, it came early and chose to quell the afternoon heat. I had to shut the windows against the rain, kept open to allow the hot breeze to flow into the room, to relieve the wet, sticky heat that’s common at this hour. I walk to the balcony, to look at the vast expanse of green that you can see; the different shades of green starting from the immediate plot of land beside my house that hasn’t fallen to construction yet, and then the mangrove that lies along the bank of the smelly creek, visible in parts. You can hardly see all this now, covered in a sheet of grey as the dull colour of the sky blended with the thickness of the rain. The leaves of the nearby trees were sodden, and the wind was driving the rain into the queue of buildings on my right, against its wish. The glass panes were misted over from the heat inside. I decided to take a walk down to the nearby café, a small joint often crowded by coffee amateurs and young couples. I don’t know why but I always found the concept of coffee and cigarettes in the backdrop of cold, dull, relentless rain romantic. I also felt an urge to walk in the first rain of the season. Like freshly brewed coffee in an earthen cup, the smell of the first rain on dry earth almost always suffused my senses and left me intoxicated.
The café, built on the corner of a crossroad, opened a large slice of the city life to view. From the window one can see a variety of actions unfolding in the shimmering mid-day heat. But today the scene was different but one in its note. As heavy shower soiled the roads and the pavements, catching the passersby unaware, I saw wet figures running for shelter, bikers cringing on the seat, frantic to find a dry spot. I saw all this as I sat in the cozy corner of the joint, my wet figure finding comfort in the warmth of the coffee as I sipped on it. I realized that I started enjoying it.
I was listlessly looking outside, happy to escape the predicament the rain has put others into, and a girl came into the café and sat by herself at a table near me. She had a pretty face, drops of water glistening on her cheek, giving her a look of a freshly minted coin. She ran her fingers through her thick, curly hair, now wet in rain. I looked at her and she disturbed me. I looked out of the window again to see the rain, but my thoughts have scattered, and now my mind was filled with her image. I turned at her again, but she had placed herself so she could watch the street and the entrance and I knew she was waiting for someone. I looked out again at the rain that had slowed down, and now only a gentle stream ran on. I was trying to get my thoughts back, to keep my mind off this girl. I ordered for another coffee and I watched the girl whenever I looked up. I took up a magazine that was lying on the table. I didn’t require it before, as the rain and the world kept me happy. But now this girl has found a place in my imagery of this rainy afternoon. She belonged to me, I thought, like the way the rain, the wet earth and the sodden leaves and the wet figures on the road belonged to me and I belonged to my thought. I was far inside my thoughts and was lost in it, and I didn’t realize how long it was, nor did I look around, or think where I was, till I felt tired and my senses resumed. I turned at the table again to look for her, but she was gone. I hope she went with a good man, I thought. But I was sad. The rain had stopped.