It was a sunny Wednesday. The rush to catch the local Borivali train continued at the Dadar station. The passengers began to relax once they got into the train. A few checked the time on their watch, the ones who got a seat looked happily out of the window, a few checked their WhatsApp messages and the rest continued to stream web- series on their smartphones. Vidya who had managed to get the window seat looked outside the window.
She noticed that the Sun had suddenly begun to hide behind the clouds. She began to drift in her own thoughts about how her sunny life was going to disappear as a storm would enter her life very soon. Their perfect married life was perhaps going to end. She & Mukesh had met in college and fallen in love. Despite her parents disapproval due to caste issues they both had managed to elope and get married secretly. After her first daughter was born, her parents had finally accepted their son in law. Now, Vidya was a happy mother of two children, an 8 year old daughter and a 5 year old son. Life couldn’t have been more perfect.
But everything changed one night when she spotted lipstick stains on her husband’s shirt. She never wore lipstick, yet she tried to ignore it. His late nights at work had increased and so had his late night texting which immediately caught her attention. Was he cheating on her? She wanted to confront him when the kids were away during a weekend. It had been a month now. Was she really delaying it because of her children or was it because she was afraid to face reality? The storm could destroy their lives forever. She got distracted as the train halted at Bandra and got further crowded. Her eyes fell on a pretty teenager going to college. She remembered how wonderful life had been when she was back in college. She & Mukesh were dating back then. Her only desire was to spend more time with him and get decent grades. Just then, the teenager caught her staring so Vidya looked away.
Ayushi, the teenager was frustrated with her life. Her parents were the most narrow minded of all. Others her age partied like there was no tomorrow. They traveled by Ubers and did not bother about their grades but she had to take the train in the horrible weather and even though she was amongst the top 10 students, her parents weren’t content with her grades. Her deadline to be home in the evenings was 7 pm. She wasn’t allowed to talk to guys and wasn’t allowed to wear sleeveless or short clothes. How did it feel to talk to a guy? She thought as she spotted a cute guy in the general compartment. How did it feel like be a guy? No restrictions for anything. Life is so much easier for men she assumed.
Nikhil, the cute guy was struggling hard to impress his boss. He was an unappreciated hardworking employee. The others got their promotion too easily. He worked hard and even stayed back late nights but the lazy asses seemed to be getting everything easily by licking their boss’s feet. They flattered him and offered him gifts. Their boss was too much of a fool to understand the politics and Nikhil was too simple a guy to do all that. He believed that his work would speak for himself but it hadn’t until now. His parents on the other hand were pressurizing him to get married but he hadn’t even settled down yet. He didn’t even own a car or a bike and it was impossible in Mumbai to even buy a small apartment. Wish life was easier for me he always thought. Just then the train reached Borivali. The crowd began to rush out of the station. It began to pour heavily. Nikhil struggled to hire an auto rickshaw to work since there were too many people and the rickshaw drivers were charging an unusually high fare due to the rains. He spotted a BMW pass and cursed the woman sitting on the backseat. She comfortably sat as her driver drove her to work. Nikhil was completely drenched in the rain but finally managed to get a rickshaw to reach his office on time.
It continued to pour heavily. The weather forecast looked bad and emails from the Human Resources began to pour warning them about the thunderstorm. By 3 pm, everyone began to head home. The traffic was crazy. The water logging had already started and the city began to get dark.
Vidya and Nikhil who worked in the same office were standing under their office building to take a rickshaw to the station but it was impossible since all the offices, colleges and schools had all left at the same time. They being acquaintances began to chat with each other as they waited. Suddenly Nikhil spotted the same BMW that he’d seen in the morning. The girl opened the door for them.
“Do you guys need a ride to the station?”
“That would be wonderful” said Vidya and got into the car. Nikhil had no option but to get into the car as well. The girl in the car introduced herself.
“Hi, I’m Meera. I have my own start up called ‘Meera Life Spaces’. I live in Jairaj nagar. What about you guys?”
“Hi, I’m Vidya. I work at ‘Senior Enterprises’. I come from Dadar.”
“Hi I’m Nikhil. I don’t just work but struggle at ‘Senior Enterprises’.”
All the three laughed as soon as he said that.
“So Nikhil, I saw you struggling in the rain this morning. I was about to ask you for a ride just then saw you get into a rickshaw” Meera said.
“These rickshaw walas I tell you, they trouble you more during the monsoons.” Vidya said.
“Yeah, we middle class people struggle daily with these issues but you are a lucky rich girl who owns a BMW” said Nikhil.
“Hey! Money isn’t everything. Besides, it’s my dad’s.”
“Madam, inko station chodna hai na?” (Madam, should we drop them to the station?) Her driver asked.
“Ji” replied Meera.
Just then they saw a girl standing on the side of the road soiled in muddy water asking for a ride. So Meera asked the driver to stop the car and opened the door for her. Now, Ayushi got very excited seeing Nikhil in the front row. She thought that the car belonged to him and his driver had come to pick him due to the rains. This was her chance to talk to him.
“Could you please drop me to the station?” Ayushi asked Nikhil.
“Off course, get in” said Meera.
“Oh, it’s your car. So sorry.”
“Oh no! The western line is shut temporarily. A chunk of the foot over bridge has fallen on the tracks. It might take a while to fix.” Ayushi said as she checked her phone.”
“Shit, were there any deaths?” asked Vidya.
“Only injuries as of now” said Ayushi.
“I’ll tell you what guys. Come over to my place. There is going to be severe water- logging” said Meera.
“No, no my kids would be waiting for me” Vidya said.
“I think it’s a good idea” said Ayushi. She was too excited to spend the night with the cute guy.
“I think I’ll manage on my own but you guys go ahead. You all need to be safe” said Nikhil.
“I’m not giving anyone a choice. Driver ghar chalo (Driver take us home)” said Meera.