Short Story: Rainy Sunday Afternoon
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Friendship is like a river: it flows around rocks, adapts itself to valleys and mountains, occasionally turns into a pool until the hollow in the ground is full and it can continue on its way.
- Paulo Coelho, Manuscript Found in Accra
Rainy Sunday Afternoon
“I’m sitting here in the boring room, it’s just another rainy Sunday afternoon, I’m wasting my time, I got nothing to do…”
The music player was going on in full blast. Megha sat at her computer, trying to find the perfect words to describe her boredom.
“Do you really think sulking in your room, listening to Lemon Tree for the hundredth time will cure you of your writer’s block?” her younger sister, Ananya asked her sister. She was lying down on her bed, staring up at the ceiling.
“For my next birthday,” said Megha, irritably, “I want my own room.”
“You and I both, sis,” laughed Ananya, turning her head slightly to look at her sister sitting at the computer. So far Megha had only played Lemon Tree by Foolsgarden on loop and not typed a single word. “You’re pressurizing yourself too much. I know the deadline is tonight. But you just can’t sit at the computer and expect words to type themselves out magically to form a story.”
“Watch me!” snarled Megha.
“I have been,” replied her Smart Alec sister, “For the past two hours. Why else do you think I’m hanging out in our room?”
“Because it’s raining cats and dogs outside?” snapped Megha. She wondered how she was supposed to write, when she was stuck sharing a room with a brat of a sister.
“Nah. I just wanted to witness the genius at work.”
“Well, aren’t you a jenny ass?”
Ananya frowned, “You don’t need to call me names.”
“I need to get out of this house,” her sister said, abandoning her post at the computer.
“In this weather?” her sister shrieked.
“Yes, in this weather. I happen to love the rain.”
“Speak for yourself.”
Ananya made no effort to stop her crazy sister from going out in the horrible weather. She knew by now, her sister would do whatever she wanted anyway. She waited for Megha to leave the room. When she was sure she was alone in, she jumped to the computer and began to snoop through her sister’s files.
“Where does she keep her secret journal?” she muttered to herself, “Or even that private blog of hers?”
Megha was perfectly aware that she’d forgotten to lock her computer. She knew all too well her sister would be snooping through her stuff. But she couldn’t muster the energy to go back, shout at Ananya and lock her computer. She was too frustrated with her writer’s block. The fact that the deadline to submit a story to her college’s magazine was that night did not help at all. There was only one place in the world which would throw some inspiration on her.
“Elgin Road,” she told her cab driver as she got in.
There was huge book shop there. She was sure she would find even a spark of imagination, if she just spent some time among the smell of new books.
Just as she had suspected there were hardly any customers in the bookshop. Most of them were victims of the rain and were waiting it out in the café. She did not find a single, genuine book lover in the shop. She turned away from the irate people, and spotted a book she’d been looking for, for around six months now.
“Yes! They finally have the signed copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard!” she exclaimed, reaching for the book. At the same time, someone else also had grabbed the book.
“Hey!” she cried, “I saw the book first.”
“Well, I was going to take it first!” her book snatcher protested.
She looked at him. Because well, he was a lot taller than she was. She couldn’t guess his age and she knew she would not be able to ask him. Not when both of them were fighting over a book. Neither of them was willing to let go off the book. An attendant rushed to their side.
“Sir, ma’am,” he said, looking from one to another, “I’m sure we have more copies of that book. Why don’t let go off the book?”
“Fine,” they said in unison, “You let go!”
He suddenly grinned at her, “Why don’t you keep it, kid? You obviously want to buy the book with your tooth fairy money.”
“No, why don’t you keep it?” she said, spitefully, “But make sure to get yourself a dictionary to look up the big words.”
“Rowling doesn’t use big words,” the guy said, crossly, “Or do you not know that!”
“I know more about Rowling than you do,” snapped Megha.
“Oh really?” the guy seemed to be rather enjoying his unexpected spat with Megha. But suddenly she felt drained and tired.
She let go off the book suddenly and shrugged, “I’ve had a long day. I cannot stand in a bookstore arguing with a guy whose name I don’t even know.”
Feeling more down in the dumps than ever, she made her way to window and sat down at one of the seats.
“Oh no, don’t feel sad. I was just joking,” the guy grinned. He’d followed her over to the seat, “You can take the book if you want.”
“Thanks, but I really would like to be alone right now,” she said pointedly.
“That’s nonsense,” he laughed, good- naturedly, “no one ever wants to be alone. If you claim to like being alone - that’s the first biggest lie you can ever tell yourself.”
“What’s the second one?”
“I don’t like chocolate,” he replied without batting an eyelid.
“Why don’t you sit down?” offered Megha, “I’m Megha, by the way.”
“And I’m Abhik,” he introduced himself, “Why are you in a bookstore in such a rainy afternoon?”
“Because I wanted to buy a book,” Megha replied, rolling her eyes, “Why else would you come to a bookstore?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Think, maybe. Browse through books – waiting for that one idea to come to your mind. Just take a break from reality.”
“In the land of books?” asked the girl, brightening up, “I thought one else thought of bookstores as a magical land where everything falls into place again!”
“You’d be surprised,” Abhik laughed, “There’s a really nice café upstairs. Do you want to go have coffee and discuss more books?”
“That sounds more like my kind of a rainy Sunday afternoon,” laughed Megha, getting up from her place, “And all this time I thought you were seeking refuge from the rain.”
“Hey, bookstores are a great place to make new friends,” he laughed. He looked around at the sundry people who were irritably waiting for the rain to stop, “But you need to realize who are really here for the books.”
Megha went home bursting with new ideas for her new piece of fiction. When she went home, she found Ananya lying on her bed, reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for the thousandth time.
“Hey, you were gone a long time,” her sister said, “Did your writer’s block go away?”
“Oh yes!” said Megha, happily. She sat down at her computer and found to her surprise that she was logged in to her Facebook profile.
“Some guy called Abhik Banerjee sent you a friend request a few minutes ago. He was cute so I accepted it for you.”
“Is that why you make friends?” Megha asked her, shaking her head, “How cute the guy is?”
“Well, you had no mutual friends. So yes, that’s the parameter I have.” Ananya said, pretty pleased with herself.
Megha turned her attention back to her blog. There was a new comment from Abhik in the About the Author section.
‘Good luck with your writing. Can’t wait to see the story you come up with!’
She looked over her shoulder at her sister, “Sometimes you need to see the person beyond all that arrogance or cuteness.”
“You met him in person!” said Ananya, sitting bolt up in bed, and abandoning her book. “I know it! You’re grinning…tell me everything…”
And as Megha narrated the story of rainy Sunday afternoon, she realized she’d finally found the plot for the story she’d been chasing for two whole weeks now. Friendships – and how strangely they get formed at times!