The Red Umbrella

There was a sudden rush in the silent Dhruvnagar colony. It had barely started drizzling when all the boys of the colony were out to experience the bliss of playing some solid football on the colony ground in the first rain of the season. The monsoon had finally arrived in Vizag. The rain was getting heavier. There were puddles on the ground and one could barely see the ball. Thanks to the absence of a referee, kicking, abusing and pushing was totally legal. One of the pro players, brought the music system from his place and placed it under a shed to add to the entertainment.

I had met with an accident a couple of days back and my right hand was plastered. I was cursing my stars since I couldn’t go and kick the ball and adding insult to injury, I was made the DJ for the game. Each team had scored one goal each and was pretty evenly poised. I was playing all sad songs, much to displeasure of the players of both the teams. I could see the frowns on their faces and that gave me enough sadistic pleasure to make up my not being able to play. A little later a truck and a Maruti Alto came our way and parked in front of the apartment. By telepathy,the half time break was declared and everyone came to see who the new tenants were.

The luggage was not much, in fact very minimal, too little for a family. I was under the impression that some not so well-to-do family had moved in. The match had resumed again and jobless that I was, comfortably sat on the porch and observed what all were being moved upstairs. I played a track Gali Mein Aaj Chand Nikla from Zakhm. While the song was still playing, the truck left and the door of the Alto opened. A red umbrella came out first and then came out someone. And as far I could understand; it had to be a girl. No guy would open an umbrella in a rain for a 10 foot distance. Since I could barely see the girl and for all my knowledge it could have been a guy as well, I walked back to the shed to the catch up with the fierce match.

You see, the bus stop of Dhruvnagar is about half a kilometre from my apartment. It was around five in the evening the next day and it was still raining while I got down from the college bus. The doctor had ordered me that the plaster on my right hand should not get wet. So, I waited at the bus stop so that someone I know would come by and offer me something I could cover my hand with. I was losing patience when some 15 minutes later, an Infosys Volvo stopped and out popped the red umbrella again! It was a girl. Definitely a girl. And very pretty too! She was walking very briskly and by the time I realised I could take her help, she was a good distance away from me. Not knowing what to do, I yelled

“Hey Red Umbrella. Help”

The girl, visibly embarrassed, turned around. We were the only two people on the road. I walked towards her.
“Hi. I met with an accident a couple of days back and the plaster on my arm is not supposed to get wet. Do you mind walking me to my place please?” showing my broken plastered hand.
She put up a pseudo confused, pseudo question mark face.
“I live in Nigam Apartments. It’s very close by” I said with my best smile on.
She smiled and signaled me to come by and offered some place under the umbrella.

So we shared the umbrella, half by her and the other half by my right hand. When we were less than a 100 meters from my place I realized we could talk to each other.
“Hi. I am Badrul. Am studying Mechanical Engineering final year at Andhra University”
She smiled again.
I was stunned. Just a smile, not even one word. Not even a Hi. I decided to give her one last try and that was it, I thought.
“I am sorry I screamed out “Red Umbrella” at the bus stop”
And she smiled again.

I was pissed and stayed silent. We had reached the apartments and I thanked her in a rude way and ran up the stairs in fury while she took the lift. I had apologized, introduced myself and she did not even say a hello in return. What the hell would she have lost by saying something?

I rang the bell of my house and my mom opened the door.
“Did you keep your hand from getting wet?” she asked as soon as I entered.
“Haan haan ma. It’s dry”, I replied in an irritated tone.
“But how? You did not even take your rain coat”
“That new girl from our building shared her umbrella with me.”
“Oh Sonali. Be nice to her beta.”
“And why? Why should I be nice to her?” I questioned, with all anger.
“I met her parents yesterday. They told me she’s mute. She can’t talk”.
I was speechless.

All characters are purely fictional. Any resemblance to the living or dead is totally unintentional.
P.S. Image Courtey DeviantArt

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