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Walking with a Stranger (Episode I)

00.30hrs in the morning and the continuous downpour has left the streets unexpectedly emptied. Not one person can be seen out, except for a few dogs drenched completely looking for a hide. Past three and half years, this has been my route back home, the only difference being that I’m a bit early today and possibly the last time taking this route.

Ganesh(The Driver): Sir, we have reached.

Me: Yes dada, 14578 is the deboarding OTP and just wait a while, need to get my umbrella out.

Ganesh: Sir, it’s raining heavily, I would suggest you stay inside for some time until the rain subsides. I have my next drop by morning 6 am, so I can wait for some time.

Me: No need dada, there’s no point waiting, because if I wait then I might not get any rickshaw to reach home at this time. Anyway, Ganesh dada today was my last day in the office and so,,,,

Ganesh: Last day Sir? did you get a new job? You did not tell me anything.

Me: I did not tell you anything because I too did not know anything. Only in the afternoon after I reached the office, did I come to know that I am no longer needed in this organisation and that I have been laid off just like many others in recent times.

Ganesh: Ohh, sorry to know that.

Me: Yaa me too, anyway thanks dada, time to leave and thanks for everything, thanks for driving me all these years(opens the door).

Ganesh: But Sir wait, the downpour is heavy, even with your umbrella you will be wet. I wish I could have dropped you further but I am not allowed to.

Me: Dada it’s ok, relax, I’ll be fine and you have done enough. There’s nothing more that you can do and there’s no point waiting, because if I wait any more then I might have to walk home in this heavy rain. So, goodbye dada, take care and hope we’ll meet again sometime and you’ll drive me home then.

Ganesh: Of course Sir, we’ll meet. You too take care, GoodBye ?

Me: GoodBye dada?

(I worked at JetAirways, Andheri. Every day after completing my shift, I would get a drop till Thane Station. Ganesh is the assigned driver, who would drive me up to the assigned boundary ie Thane Railway Station. From Thane Station, I stay about 4kms inside near Wagle Estate. After dropping at Thane Railway Station I would look for a rickshaw to reach home.)

The rain just won’t stop and there’s no rickshaw, how great. Such an amazing day, 1st lose your job, then rain and now I stuck in this downpour with no transport to reach home. Well let me just walk a little ahead, maybe I can find a rickshaw.

After walking for 5mins, I could see a girl standing on the walkway a few meters away without any umbrella and completely drenched. Head bowed, shoulders dropping, left hand holding the right wrist, completely still, motionless, quivering with cold. I was unable to see her face since her head was bowed and water kept dripping from her drenched hair. I usually am not fearful of the unknown, ie by nature my demeanour has always been more curious and less timid, but still, an unpleasant and apprehensive sense of fear ran through my body, even though I was wanting to go to her and help her. Never have I being superstitious or a believer of ghosts and witches but still considering my safety and being the lone child of my single widower father I had to look at her feet just to confirm that they are in the right place and that she’s indeed a human and not something to be scared of.

Me: Excuse me, ahhh,,, madam but do u need any help?
(no reply from the girl)

Me: It’s raining too heavily, we could share this umbrella.
(still no reply)

Me: Ahhh,,,, hello,,,, hello can you hear me?
(no reply)

Me: Hmmm,,,,,ohhh look there’s a cockroach on your feet.

She: (jumping) eeeeww,,, What!!!! ,,, where,,,!!!!

Me: Oh so can hear and speak and you are human too.

She: What!!! (angrily) what do you mean? just leave me alone, go away, I need nobody’s help, just let me,,,,,

(Interjecting her)
Me: Easy lady, I mean you no harm, just that I was walking by and saw you all alone in this empty street, with no umbrella, getting all wet in this downpour, that I thought of asking you about your well-being, I mean what are you doing here all alone.

She: Thank you, and now kindly leave, let me be by myself, I need no one’s support, no one’s help, no one’s empathy, no one’s nothing, just go. Please leave me alone.

Me:(what a weird woman- me thinking in my head). (After a pause) I can help

She: What?? What did you say? Help? Who told you I need help? didn’t you hear or were you deaf when I said “I need nobody’s help,,,,(raising her voice)please leave me alone. Mister listen I’m not in a mood,,,(pausing and stammering), I’m not in my best frame of mind, so keep your help to yourself and stop acting smart. You men are,,,,,

(Again interjecting her)
Me: Hey lady easy, watch your words, please. All I am saying is, look at the time it’s 1’o clock in the morning, and it’s raining too heavy and the streets are empty and there is no rickshaw or cab to take us home and you are alone, without an umbrella, all wet. Also, there’s no uber or ola available, I have already checked. So if I may ask what is your destination and why are you here? I mean, the rickshaw stand is about half a km behind. I was there waiting but then there was no rickshaw so I am now walking. I would suggest considering the time, you should start walking too, I mean this may not be the best place to spend time alone, you know NOT TOO SAFE, unless you are waiting for someone, which I suppose you are not.

She: I was,,,,

Me: What?

She: Ahhh,,,, what did say, what time is it?

Me: Morning 1’o clock

She: Ohh, that’s late, (stammering) I,,, I,,,, I did not realize it was this late. & it’s raining,,,, still.

Me: Yaa it’s raining for the past 3hrs nonstop. Wait, for how long have you been here? standing or waiting i suppose.
(No reply)

Me: Hello,,,,, madam !!! are you alright?
(Still No reply)

Me: (Snapping my fingers),,,,,, Hellooooo Miss madam !!!

She: Yes, yes ahhh,,, what,,,, what were you asking?

Me: Areeee youuuu alrightttt?

She: Yes,,,,Yess, of course, I’m fine.

Me: So, we could share the umbrella, if you don’t mind.

She: Ahh,,,, no,, thanks, I have my own.

Me: Excuse me !!! What ?? You have an umbrella?
Then what were you doing? why not use it?
Lady, is everything fine? I can help, if you,,

She: NO, please don’t (interjecting me) Ahhh, thank you for asking. I have to go now, it’s already late.
(Without saying much, she decides to leave, walking alone, holding her umbrella in the right hand and her handbag on the left shoulder, even though the rain has a lot subsided and is only a light drizzle pouring now).

About the author

Amitabh Dhar

An Engineer by profession, a laid back lazy person by physical activities, a socially aloof person by nature, but an extremely active and also reactive person in my mind, so that's me.

Sharing my love & interests for History, Mythology, Science and many other genres through my blog

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