As the incessant rains thrashed over the tin roofing, Asha looked at the clock, perhaps for the hundredth time. She then looked outside. It was quite dark, no street lights, as power had been switched off to avoid accidental electrocution.
Except for the occasional loud thunders and thrash of the rain, there was no other sound. Thanks to the inverter installed during last monsoon, there are lights in her house. Most of the other houses were adjusting with candle lights. The deathly silence was broken by the sudden ringing of her mobile phone from somewhere inside. She rushed to grab the phone.
“Asha, this is Renu…”
“O Renu… Yes.. Tell me…”
“Has Rohit come?”
“Manoj called up just now… Most of the roads are flooded and traffic is blocked… So everyone is stuck… Don’t worry.. Rohit too must have been caught in the jam… He’ll come, but will be late, Ok…”
“Hmmm…” Asha murmurmed, already in tears.
She couldn’t imagine where he could be or in what state. For the past three hours she had been trying to contact him. His phone was switched off. She had tried calling his office; there they informed her that he had already left.
It took roughly 45 minutes for him to reach office even in heavy traffic. And he always kept his phone in full charge, every time he travelled. She could not make sense of his absence. She had been watching the flash news an hour back, before the power went off, where reports of people being washed away by the rising water level had been aired.
She looked around the house. Everything reminded her of Rohit. The remote over which they fought every night. The cupboard which he always messed up. The windows which he always kept open and she wanted them closed. She remembered every argument and fight they had had in the two years of their married life. In her mind’s kaleidoscope she could see his small faults, and how she had magnified it.
Her heart felt heavy. She wished she had uttered a sorry, at least once, to him. Her train of thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a bike. She ran to the door.
“That must be Rohit”
On opening the door, she saw that it was Divya’s husband.
“Has Rohit arrived?” Manoj called out.
“No…” Asha said shaking her head. Her voice choked as she said that.
“The roads are all full. There is roadblock on every road, and unending lines of vehicles held up. Don’t worry. Police have been deployed everywhere and they are helping out. Rohit will reach soon.”
Asha nodded, and went inside.
The force of the rain had reduced now, but it constantly reminded her of Rohit.
Nothing sounded right. She was scared. Manoj, despite his office being quite far away, had returned, but Rohit hadn’t. His phone too was switched off. Where could he be? Was he hurt? Has something happened to him? Or was he…She tried to calm herself; to distract herself; to keep the lamp of hope burning in her mind; but found it impossible. She prayed fervently to every God she believed in. She promised to the Omniscient that she would never ever quarrel with her husband. She vowed never to hurt him. If only he came home safe and sound….
She began walking from one room to the other. Her mind was in turmoil imagining every possible fatality that could have befallen him. Suspense and nervousness was making her more and more anxious. With panic rising, she quickened her pace. The avalanche of unanswered questions followed her. She tried to outpace the vicious presentiments that were haunting her; totally unaware of her surroundings.
Daylight was streaming in through the glass window. The curtains had been drawn apart, and the light fell directly on her face, waking her up. As Asha slowly opened her eyes, all she saw was a white mist surrounding her.
“Where am I?”
The mists cleared slightly to reveal an unfamiliar room, and a beautiful lady clad in white sari was telling her, “You are ok. You are home.”
A distant voice boomed out, “Yes… A little more rest and you will be fine.”
“I know… oooh…never thought there will be thorns in heaven” she smiled contentedly and dozed off.
The next time her eyes opened, which was a few hours later, the mist had cleared and she realised she was in a hospital. She looked around and then remembered about Rohit. She wanted to know what had happened to him, but there was no one around to ask.
“You are awake. I will get the doctor…” said the nurse.
“Wait… Where is my husband?”
The nurse had walked off.
Why doesn’t anyone tell me? Is Rohit…? Who brought me here? Why am I here?
Once more Asha was tangled in a whirlwind of questions. But this time, she got her answers almost immediately, for Ashok walked into the room smiling.
Asha felt delighted and relieved on seeing him, as tears of joy streamed down her eyes. Later, after her discharge, he answered all her questions.
He began his narration – I started from office quite early that day. The roads were fast filling with water. But I managed to drive. But due to the roads being flooded, I failed to see a pothole, and fell down. My phone got lost. I continued to drive and then suddenly my bike stopped. It simply refused to start. I abandoned it. I was frightened. I didn’t know what to do. I stood in the middle of the road holding a traffic light post tightly. As I stood there, waiting for someone to help, I saw some people being washed away. I don’t know for how long I waited. Finally a lorry driver picked me up and dropped me at this junction.
Reaching home, to my shock, I found the front door ajar and you lying unconscious in a small pool of blood. For a moment I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t take you to a hospital because all roads were blocked. Then I remembered the nurse who stays in the opposite flat, above Manoj’s. I sought her help and she said that you had hit your head on something hard and had fallen. But more important was the fact that you looked totally exhausted.
Today, early morning, Manoj somehow managed to take us to the near-by clinic in his car. Luckily the duty doctor had not yet left and you were taken care of.
“But, tell me Asha, who hit you?”
“I don’t remember much Rohit… I was scared, tensed that you had not returned. All kinds of frightening thoughts engulfed me and I started walking to clear my mind, to get rid of those feelings. But I instead of calming, I went into some kind of frenzy, I guess. I don’t remember anything after that…”
“I love you, Rohit…I will never ever quarrel with you.”
“I love you too, Asha.”
“ While struggling in the floods, I kept thinking of you…I was not even sure if I will see you again…And then when I saw you lying like that, I can’t tell you how I felt… It was like my whole world had crumbled to pieces… I swore that if I get you back I’ll fill your life with happiness…never be angry at you…or shout you…and love you like there is no tomorrow…I’m truly sorry, Asha, for having shouted at you so many times..”
“I too have been quite rude to you many times.. I’m also sorry…”
They hugged each other, and thanked the Almighty for having given them another chance at life.
A week later
“Rohit, give me the remote… It’s time for my serial…”
“You watch your serials everyday… Today there is an important match… I came home early to watch it…”
“But its climax today…I can’t miss today’s episode..”
“Hey.. How dare you grab the remote? Better give it back…”
“I WILL NOT”
Noise of things being thrown and more raised voices could be heard from the couple who had vowed never to fight. Let us take leave of them, as they continue to profess their true love.