Dhrubo was late again. That didn't surprise Neena. He was always late. In the beginning, she had thought this was an endearing habit. She liked the way he would come running up, stringing words together into an excuse - or an apology; she never really knew which - smiling at her even before their eyes met, taking her hand even as she tried - half-heartedly - to rebuke him. Their meetings always began this way. It was a habit with her, just like Dhrubo's tardiness was a habit with him.
Dhrubo checked his watch. In all the seventeen months that he had known Neena, he had never made it on time. It amazed him that they were still together. They were so different as people that it was surprising that they had even got along in the first place. Or maybe that's why they got along, he mused. Either way, he couldn't imagine his life without her. He couldn't recall a time when she hadn't been there, his island of calm in an otherwise crazy life. Neena, he thought to himself, and smiled. Neena, his security blanket.
Dhrubo, Neena thought to herself. Dhrubo, her hurricane lamp. Fickle, warm, bright. Hers.
They used these terms of endearment in their letters and emails to each other. Almost silly, it would have all seemed to an outsider, but they didn't care for outsiders. They had each other, and that was all that mattered.
In the beginning...but then, things are so different in the beginning. For better or for worse, they change, she thought, as she searched her bag for mint. She liked mint. It was something she had picked up from Dhrubo. Sometimes, she wasn't sure whether she liked mint because she liked it, or because Dhrubo was fond of it. After all this time, it didn't matter.
It began to rain. She shielded her eyes against the drops and squinted into the distance, looking for Dhrubo.