The night was dark and grey. The city lights illuminated it, but the luminosity could not reach the depth of the darkness that lay in her heart. She was walking in the rain, the pitter-patter rain that smelled of late monsoon and a ton of irritation.
She was not angry about getting wet. Even though she hated that her feet was soiled with the water from drainage system.
Her heart throbbed faster because she was lost.
She had just gotten out of her office, a steel-grey structure that was impartial to all emotions. Her umbrella was in her hand. Like her, hundreds of other people left the building at the same time, with their deodorant soaked sweaty bodies, each destined to their own destinations.
Her hostel was two kilometres away. She crossed the billboard of a smiling television actor, with a skin so smooth that she ended up feeling her own skin for the acne. She expected the familiarity of the paan shop right after the billboard. Only, today it wasn’t there.
The road was still filled with mindless traffic, whistles blowing and curses being yelled. The dirty water came rushing at her feet, her trousers.
Her eyes widened and blurred as she saw the unfamiliar buildings around her: a grey-yellow two-story house, a small tin-roofed hut. Where were the tall apartment buildings that lined the road to her flat?
The sound of the rain increased as she crossed a dank pond filled with water hyacinth. She had never known any pond in this direction.
Her hands trembled as she looked at her phone. It read the date correctly. She had not teleported into another century, another city. She searched her contacts for a number. A face popped up on her screen. Quickly, she rubbed out the face from her screen and dialed her mother’s number. The phone rang two times before her mother picked.
“You reached home?” her mother said, amid the buzz of some curry cooking on the oven.
“Yes, I’m walking back.” Her voice was heavy with emotion. Her eyelids were drooping with the heaviness of tears.
“I’ll call you when I reach,” she said, quickly, before her mother could ask more questions. She could not do this anymore.
She had walked into a park. There was a lone cement bench, glistening with rain water, illuminated by a yellow lamp overhead. There was a darkness above it that came from the trees. She walked up to the bench and sat over there. Her umbrella fell from her hand. The bottom of her dress got wet. The tears came pounding from her chest and knocked the breath out of her.
Lost, so lost.
Some years ago, there was a bench like this, in another city, in another park. A man and a woman ate roasted peanuts from a single paper bag. Her head was on his shoulder. It was all water under the bridge now.
She clutched her stomach to stop the pain. The liquid in her belly swarmed up, up, up and came gushing from her mouth. It tasted like rotten worms and failure.
She was too tired to think. So she lied down on the bench. The rain kept falling. The vomit washed away. She waited for the heaviness on her heart to abate.
In a different corner of the park, life went on, as a snake gobbled a frog and passers-by crossed them, without knowing that one less life breathed in this universe.
(c) 2017 Arpita Pramanick