This short story became SPIXer (Most popular story) on 07 Dec 2013 and won INR 500
This short story is selected as Story of the Month November’2013 and won INR 1,000
This story is selected as Editor’s Choice
The house is heavy with grief.
Twisting an escaping strand of my straightened hair in my finger, I bite my lower lip to stop myself from getting emotional.
Outside, as I hear thunder, a sudden smile of secrecy escapes my pursed lips.
Abandoning my family in time of their need, I take one step back, listening to the sound of my bangles as they gently clink against one another.
I take another and then turning around, I run out of the main door.
My long, curly hair is brushing softly against my back as I break into a sprint, my lips slightly apart with the struggle of breathing. Hoisting my ankle length skirt up, I continue running till I reach the far end of my back yard.
Around me, mango trees are swaying with the wind, waving to the lightning in the sky.
I stand still, closing my eyes, my head turned towards the clouds.
My fingers have let my Tulip red skirt fall beautifully over my legs as my arms slowly start moving upwards, till they’re outstretched beside me.
A warning thunder resounds in the sky, nature’s call, and as if on cue, a drop of rain falls on my forehead. Within seconds, another plops on my nose till eventually, the drops cover my face.
I smile; loving every minute of the beauty with my eyes closed and then, I begin spinning. I don’t know how I look but if my dad were standing next to me right now, he would have said that I looked like a rose amidst the lushness of nature.
My father is my most favourite person in the entire world.
He always says that when I’m happy, he’s happy.
But I haven’t told him yet that I’m only happy when he’s around. Now, I think that it may be too late.
“Darling,” He’d say on a random day, as we both sat in our lawn, lazing around and taking in the beauty of the sunshine. “Have I ever told you the story about you and the rain?”
I’d giggle and say, “Yes! But I want to hear it again.”
He’d chuckle at my excitement and start off with the story I had heard over a hundred times in my life
“You were only nine months old!” He’d tell me, with stars in his eyes, every time he repeated that story. “A miracle baby. One day, we had left the main door ajar and you heard the rain pouring outside and crawled out.” His face would turn into dismay. “It was a good fifteen minutes before your mother and I found you. God, the horror in my heart! Would you believe, just when I was ready to call the cops, I saw you from out the window, sitting near the mango trees, giggling in the rain? I never left the door open again!”
At this memory, he fondly laughed. “My rain child.”
My father doesn’t know that he’s my rain.
I mean to tell him that if it still is possible.
Outside, where I’m standing, the rain gets heavier. I feel the cold rain drops fall on my skin and mix up with the hot tears that are scalding my cheeks.
That’s the best thing about this season.
No one needs to know how much your heart is breaking.
My father always tells me that tears are a sign of weakness.
“Don’t ever let people catch you crying.”
“But dad,” I’d whine. “Everyone cries every once in a while!”
“Not you!” He’d smile then, fondly touching the tip of my nose. “You, my dearest rain child, will just run out to where you belong. By the mango trees in the rain. Your real home. There, you’ll find happiness. If you don’t, I’ll always be here for you.”
My childish mind did not think deep enough back then to realize that ‘always’ was not a word that meant ‘forever’. That immortality will always be our biggest weakness.
I look out at the mango trees. They’ve been there for longer than I can imagine.
My father once told me that he and my mother planted them together.
I love my mother a lot. But she doesn’t compare to the bond I share with my father.
I’m careful not to tell her that because I’ll hurt her feelings but she’s aware. Anyone would be.
Falling to my knees, ignoring the pain surging up my legs, I clench both my fists to compose myself. My head is bent low and my tears are falling with a speed that matches the rain.
Death is the most terrible gift of life.
It takes away from you, precious moments that you no longer have time to share. You see your future right in front of your eyes but it’s a future you can’t have because your time is up.
My sobbing gets loud and I’m scared that someone in my family inside, weeping, will hear me.
Behind me I hear footsteps but I don’t turn.
Then, a voice.
“My dearest Rain Child,” it says, a deep male voice choked with emotion and regret.
I know it’s my father.
He wipes his tears and crouches beside me.
I look at him, one last time, my eyes brimming with tears, matching his.
Like father, like daughter.
Then, he speaks.
“You’ve decided to go to the rain!” He says, breaking down. “But why didn’t you take me with you?”
I’m sitting right next to him but he can’t see me. He can’t see me sobbing hysterically now, shouting ‘I love you’ to him over and over again. I want him to know that I’m glad that car accident took me and not him. That I’m glad that I am not the one alive right now, crying for him. That it may sound selfish but I may not be able to survive without him. That mom now has him to lean on but if he had been the one to go away, then our family would collapse.
But it’s too late for all these things.
So, I just take in the sight of him.
We have one private moment together, joined in our tears and agony.
Then, getting up, I pat his head, though he can’t see me.
For one miraculous moment, he looks up, directly into my eyes.
He may not be able to see me but he has felt my touch.
Knowing that this is the most that I can have, I run towards the pouring rain till I’m finally one with it.
Then I’m gone and so is the rain.
The sun comes up, shining brightly, as if I’ve never existed.
But far away, in my house, the wails continue.