The rain began to fall faster, more urgently. She could have stepped under the awning of the coffee shop, but something made her want to wait for Dhrubo here, right outside in the rain. That way, she could get a glimpse of him sooner.
She paused for a second at the thought, contemplating reprimanding herself for being so silly. She wasn't sixteen...and this certainly wasn't the rational behaviour of a twenty-six year-old. Then she let the reprimand go. Dhrubo had taught her to ease up, to be more accepting of life as it came instead of attempting to pigeon-hole everything into logic, schedules and plans. She wondered, not for the first time, what had brought them together...what made them stay this way.
"Is this how you always begin your day?" she had asked in disbelief tinged with annoyance the third time they had met - the third morning also, in a row, that Dhrubo had come sprinting into the elevator, partially-knotted tie in one hand and backpack flung over his shoulder. His rushed entry would scatter the crowd already present inside. With his feckless air and the nonchalant, disarming ease with which he smiled at a bunch of strangers he had just inconvenienced, Dhrubo could make the concept of frowning upon delays look near-ridiculous...and every morning, it seemed to Neena, he did just that.
"I try", he had grinned at her. It was a frank, open smile, the sort that told her right away that she would be wasting her time harbouring ill-will against the face that wore it. "I really do...but no matter what I do, I am always running late." He frowned towards the end of the sentence, then smiled again. "I'll try not to hold back the elevator tomorrow...or at least not when you're taking it."
She hadn't been able to hold back the smile then.
Her smile...thought Dhrubo, rounding a bend in the road. It was the sort that stayed with you hours after you'd seen it, the sort that could be sensed even over the phone. He loved her smile. He'd told her that often enough.
Standing there in the rain, mulling over all that she wanted to tell Dhrubo today, she wondered if she had ever told him that she had lost her heart to him with that first smile and conversation. Excuse of a conversation, she corrected herself. Some first meeting that was. Had she told him? She didn't remember doing so.
I hope to goodness she isn't getting drenched, Dhrubo muttered to himself as threaded his way through a crowded pavement. And then he grinned to himself at the realisation of how the essence of each had rubbed off on the other...he'd started being careful, for goodness' sake. Actually, he added as an afterthought, he'd started being careful for her sake. And he was willing to bet that she would actually be standing out there in the rain - just like he would.
He was afraid of sense and order before she came along. There was always greater security in the haphazard and the haywire. She had found that both astonishing and amusing - and had told him so in as many words. He'd laughed off her questions then...and then found himself pondering them later, in his solitude. That was what had clinched it for him. His solitude was sacrosanct - reserved only for him. When thoughts about her inched themselves effortlessly into his long walks and early morning coffee, he'd stopped to take stock. And he had known. Known with absolute certainty.
And here they were today. There she was, the only person standing in the rain. He waved.
Neena waved back, her throat suddenly aching with unshed tears.