by Pragati Bakshi
It was the first onslaught of heavy monsoon ever since my appointment as an Assistant Professor in this semi urban college. Though I was fortunate enough to get employed in my home town, but misfortunes and dullness gripped every inch of my life. In fact, the dark gloomy clouds looming over horizon replicated the intensity of the agony and my vulnerability.
Barely 25 years old, I was elevated to the position of protector and savior of a family, comprising an ailing mother and much younger sister. I was struggling to stand up to myself, therefore the new elevated much deified position of family protector was too much for me to swallow. Never before had I stepped out of household without an apparent protection, and now I was all alone to face the big bad world.
College bell rang thrice, informing the completion of last tutorial and as no other class was scheduled for that day. I stepped out of the college premises along with a shapeless bag and a heavy heart as I usually did. Students wished me goodbye and most of them cycled towards their destination. Gradually the last bunch of students got scattered and I found myself standing alone under one of the tallest Palash tree. That day was twenty first of August and in India monsoon during this month reaches to its zenith. Dark Clouds started gathering and I felt, as if they along with howling wind have conspired to aggravate my agony of helplessness and loneliness.
Strange frenzy gripped as I waited for public conveyance. Lighting and thundering started, followed by a very heavy malevolent shower. Invisibility due to heavy rain and tears brimming in my eyes were making impossible for me to walk. Though it may be not so sudden, yet I felt suddenly an auto rikshaw with bright head light stopped.
I frantically jumped into it without assessing the availability of accommodation. The Auto driver sensing my precarious situation started driving and henceforth I regained my senses. I found much to my dismay that I was leaning upon a young man. This was again unbearable to me. Born and brought up in very conservative household my vanity to uphold my dignity was too ostensible.
I started struggling; Wrapping my body with wet duppata* and trying to adjust my body in minuscule space. “Calm Down”, a dark soothing voice forced me lift my face towards its origin. He was young man, a soldier attired in commando dress, very dark and barely 30 years old. “Please calm down, adjust yourself, or else you will fall out of vehicle if you move in wrong direction”. Those words still ring inside my ears as they had very far fetched meaning and premonition. I tried to adjust and with another flash of lightening, I somehow managed to see his dark face. His eyes were heavy set under bushy eyebrows, carried an expression of care and sympathy and a rare emotion which was incomprehensible to me.
This incidence, as an act of nature’s serendipity has been resurrecting itself in my mind in every coming monsoon since then. I was totally drenched. Even the cotton duppata* instead of hiding, revealed my shapely body contours. Yet the soldier was more concerned of my safety rather than gobbling me with his eyes. My stoppage was in vicinity. I was ready to step down. I paid the auto fare carried my bag but left a slice of my lifespan (no matter in how small fragment) with him. I turned back to grab my pieces of existence but it sped away with his smile wrapped in divinity. ***
*Duppata is piece of loose clothe worn with Indian dress of Salwar Suit.