As soon as the sun set, I started my daily evening walk in my colony park. Midway, I saw a kid who was around seven years old resting on a bench dissolved in his thoughts.
He looked worried, so approaching him, I asked, “What is your name son and is everything alright?”
Looking at me, he smiled before responding, “My name is Rahul sir and everything is alright. I’m just waiting for my mother.”
I couldn’t help but ask, “You’re waiting for your mother in this park?”
The boy nodded before stating, “She instructed me to wait here before she would return from her work and then we planned to go shopping.”
Sitting beside him, I said “Don’t you worry if she is late. Maybe she is stuck with her work today. You could go shopping tomorrow.”
Now the boy’s face turned pale. In a low tone, he confessed, “Tomorrow is my third birthday sir.”
I thought he was mistaken about his age but the boy explained, “I was born on the 29th of February. So I only celebrate birthdays once every four years.”
Comprehending his calculation, I replied, “So that is why tomorrow is your third birthday.”
He blushed and it felt like his sadness disappeared for a moment. Wanting to know, I asked him “So what do you expect on your third birthday?”
After a moment of thought, he said, “I want to celebrate with my friends. I want it to be as memorable as possible.”
For a moment both of us looked at each other before I asked him, “Don’t you feel bad that you could only celebrate your birthday once every four years?”
Without a moment of hesitation, he stated, “No one can help it as my mother says.”
I loved what he just said. Meanwhile, he continued, “I feel special wearing that white dress along with my new pair of shoes, belt, watch and wallet.”
I told him, “Shortly, your mother will be here and you will get to buy all of them.”
I could see his excitement mounting up and intending to keep him occupied, I asked, “So what do you do on your birthday?”
The boy took a deep breath before saying, “I pray to God. Wear new clothes, shoes, and everything. Distribute chocolates to my friends and sweets to my teachers. Invite my friends to my birthday party. The rest of my time, I eat my mother’s delicious food and play with my dad after I finish the cake he brought me.”
I felt bad for him because he gets to celebrate his birthday only once every four years. Meanwhile, the boy asked me, “Do you celebrate your birthday?”
To which I honestly didn’t want to lie. So I told him, “I used to in the past but now I no longer do. However, when I used to celebrate, I did it every year.”
The boy’s face glowed. He asked me curiously, “How did you celebrate your birthday?”
I couldn’t remember what I did. So instead of answering, I asked him, “Why don’t you celebrate your birthday on 28th February for non-leap years?”
Observing his shoes, he answered, “My father still buys me a cake and my mother feeds me sweets but there is no party during those years.”
I felt happy since he was content with what they gave him. Finally, his mother did arrive and I bid him goodbye as she took him to shop.
Two days later, I met the boy in the same place during my evening walk. Walking towards him, I wished, “Belated Happy Birthday son! Couldn’t wish you during the last two days due to the heavy rain. How did you enjoy your birthday?”
Dejected, he replied, “Due to rain, my school declared a holiday and my friends didn’t attend my birthday party!”
I suggested, “You could celebrate your birthday any day after it’s done. Now that the climate is favorable. Select a day and celebrate.”
To which he was unwilling. Looking at me, he even stated, “I would rather wait four more years!” and I could feel his anger on God to which no one could help him with except for Him.
This short story is dedicated to Devika Devadas. Add your opinion on the short story in the comments and thank you for your time - WP Team.
I live above everyone of you and when my time comes I fall to save all the living races, and I am called Rain. I watch over the tale of the sky and the earth. They seem to appear mingled but are not, many relations on the earth end up the same way, and sometimes I being the reason to their birth, I embellish them and even hide their tears and sorrows. However, I cherish them, I’m still sometimes blamed for their break up. However, this time I just choose to be a spectator and a narrator. “Tara, Tara.... wake up dear, it’s time for your dance class!" said Nirmala, switching off the alarm set by Tara.
It has been a routine for Nirmala waking her daughter up ever since her husband passed away. Tara woke up and got ready for her class and in a hurry, she packed breakfast and dropped it into her bag. She took her bicycle keys and drove down the lane and stopped near a tree to give breakfast to an old man who lives alone in a small hut, as she does every day. The old man smiled and wished her good as usual, in which Tara believed.
The next day in Tara's routine, she noticed a foreigner singing and dancing with his guitar and funny outfit near the old man to make the lonely one happy. Tara giggled, but controlled herself from laughing, thinking he might be giving the old man a company. She handed the breakfast to the old man and he blessed her, “Soon you meet happiness.", as I wish too. She thanked him and rode away thinking about her father who used to be her real happiness. She tried to divert herself from reminiscences as she passed through the muddy road and grassy lanes in the cloudy climate. I finally poured and she rode fast to escape the rain, and that’s me that diverted her.
The next day, while she is jogging she finds someone following her. As she turned back, to her surprise, she found a white skinned foreigner whom she saw the day before, trying to accompany her. He gave her a smile and approached her. This time, I remained calm, not to separate them from being fugitive to my roar - the rain.
She asked, “Can I help you?”.
In reply he said,, “Yes madam, if you don't mind.”
She answered “Yeah, tell me.”
He questioned “So do you jog everyday..?”
She replied, "Yes, so…”
He kept canting and requested her, “Can you show me the best place around to check out for more greenery?”, before she finished.
She smiled and replied, “I go that way, so you can join.” He thanked and followed her.
She quizzed him, “Where do you come from?”
He said while he still canted, “Yeah, I missed my intro... I'm Chris, from France and I’m an architect.” Seems like he ran miles.
She smiled and said, "Nice meeting you, I'm Tara.”
He smiled and questioned, "Tara, what are you?".
She replied, “I’m a classical dancer.”
In the meantime, they reached to the poolside path and Chris shouted in happiness, “Oh fresh air, there you are, thank you Tara for bringing me here”.
He started breathing wilder, and his thin body seemed to burst out and Tara stared at him weirdly.
She smiled and said, “Okay, on what purpose have you come this far?".
While they jogged, he explained to her that he came to do his thesis on the Indian architecture and he needs to see the ancient temples around and he listed some of the destinations. As she is aware of almost all the destinations she said, “I think I can help you with those.”
He exclaimed, “Oh, I am thankful!”
I thought to make them a little close, so I got wilder and thundered, but it didn’t help.
Tara gazed above and marked, “I’ll need to get home before it starts raining”, and departed bidding him goodbye.
Every day they met while they jogged and spent time with the old man in the morning by entertaining him with Chris' guitar, they laughed, shared ideas and their professions. They visited many temples of ancient times and seeing their architectures. Chris got excited and Tara explained some of the myths she knew regarding them and Chris used to listen with his mouth wide open in curiousness while she did. Chris, with his camera captured some views of the domes and arches. He captured the dancing poses of Tara too. Soon they became good friends and when Chris used to draw details of the architecture, Tara used to spend time with her dance students in temples. The care Chris took for her, reminded her of her father and he has become her real happiness.
Seeing the details of the temples, Chris finds out that yet there are more forts to be checked and he shares his views and details with Tara. Being rainy season, Tara promises that she would take him to the fort after the season.
Finally, I gave her a chance after a week. That morning, Tara rushed to Chris’ room, located at the end of the street and she hurried him to get ready so that she would take him to the fort. Chris tried to find his moped keys but Tara suggested him not to find as she had brought two bicycles. They both started from the end of their village. They passed through verdant bushes, small paths and rainy mashes and soon I started to play my game of love by pouring rain. As I densified the fall, they soon started to ride faster to escape me. Soon they started to race while they travelled through the bushy thick paths and fields. In the end, they were not aware of the distance they travelled but they had lots of fun in my fall .
In the evening, when it's just about sunset, they reached over a hill top. They felt pleasant seeing the crimson sky and the pretty view from the hill. The fort looks beautiful and sunset is like a blushing rose. I remained calm and felt proud that it’s just because after my absence, the scenery looks romantic.
Tara cried, “Look there! It’s the fort! We’ve reached!". Chris just got astonished to see that beautiful sight and he fell in love with this view. He cried to the sky, “Maria! Love you forever! Soon I'll come to you.......” and laughed at Tara in excitement.
Tara stared at him in simple smile but the question arises in her mind who Maria is. However, they soon got diverted by a swarm of birds across and they caught the scenery on camera as they loved to. They stayed there overnight and visited the fort in the morning, collected the details and returned in the evening.
Next day is not a usual day as Tara got sick and Chris visited her home and Niramala showed him way to Tara's room. Tara giggled seeing him in a devotional style with vermilion applied to forehead, a flower in his ear, half offered coconut and a diary in his hand. Dressed in white, he appeared like a god of peace in his attire.
Later they spoke for some time, Chris forgot his diary and left after sometime. Tara opened his diary and finds out that it is his personal, but she started to read after she rethought. However, most of his records are in French, which she found hard to understand, but she finds a photo of a lady and on back of the photo, it's written, “Maria, 10/1/2010”. She tried to read all the English sentences written in the dairy, she finally figures out that Maria is his lover and she passed away in a car accident. She felt sad for him and thought about the words that he shouted near the fort and finally makes out that he still loves her deeply but he lives happily in remembrance of her and guesses those words may mean with love, to Maria. She develops respect and love towards him.
In the evening, she goes and returns his diary while he already is in search for it. He takes it with desperate love and thanks her. Chris says that he needs to leave within a week. Tara thought to ask about Maria but she didn’t. While she is walking home, she literally understands her feelings towards him.
She meets him daily but she misses him every minute, thinking one day he'll leave her. One day, while she was riding from her dance school, she met with an accident and was severely injured. She gets admitted in the city hospital. Chris gets troubled to heart, thinking what might happen to her and he remembers the times he cried for Maria when she met with an accident. Chris and Nirmala waited for the doctor and find out she is out of danger but got injury to head. After two days, she gets to her senses but barely remembers anything. She is able to remember her mom and gets discharged after a day. She spends two days in her home without going out but she behaves unchanged from her past except for remembering the four months of time with Chris. Chris visited her twice but she just spoke as if he is a stranger.
It’s time for Chris to leave India, he assures Nirmala that he may visit if his fate permits and asks to take care of Tara. Nirmala too feels sad because she knows that Tara loves him, but the fate has changed the destiny. That evening, Chris met Tara and didn’t even utter a word about their past but he said that she was the most memorable person in his life just like Maria and he conveyed his affection and love towards her, but Tara fails to recognize his love and treats him as a stranger in her life till then and all she thinks is she forgot everything except someone whom she knows from long past. She didn’t even try to make an attempt to remember him.
That night, she slept as usual and she dreamt that she is sitting on a bench in a park, staring at her reflection in the water puddle flowing by that bench and slowly found her eyes getting misty with tiny tears which are about to fall into that water below and before they fell, a paper boat came floating in the water, caught her tears and she got surprised and took that paper boat which reads, “Never make them fall, they are precious”, and after reading this she searches her surroundings and finds Chris standing for her in rain, which just started dripping. Wiping her eyes she flees to him and stands before him and he says, “How would you think that I'll leave you, and did you really forget me?", she nods her head sighing no. Looking into her eyes he then says, “Even if you really did forget the past, no problem; we can still start a new story." She then smiles and hugs him. Suddenly she wakes up from this dream, early in the morning, she sits on the stairs of her doorway and streams into thinking, “It’s crazy as hell because it’s a dream.”
Then the old man comes and smiles at her. Tara smiles back at him. He gives her Chris’ diary and a red rose by wishing her, “Your dreams shall come true soon.” and walks away.
She opens the diary, it’s an empty one, but the first page reads, "My Next Chapter Of Life With Tara..."
Do you think it’s an end? Now it’s my part to rain more than ever....