It was raining meteors and asteroids. Jagan strained his eyes, trying hard to get a glimpse of the roads through the rain-splattered windows. The office was on the third floor. His eyes moved back to the laptop on his work desk. The system clock showed the time - 6:10 pm it said. He peered over to the work desk across his. Shruti was still there.
"Hey...erm..Shruti", he managed to say in a hesitant tone, "It's raining heavily. You still wanna wait back?"
"Umm...yeah", she said, her eyes fixed on the window. "Got a lot of work to do. I'll wait for an hour...hopefully it'll stop raining by then."
"Well...I'm leaving right now...you could join me in my car. I could drop you home."
"No yaar, it's fine...you go ahead", she said, with a sheepish smile.
"Aww c'mon. You could work from home. You don't wanna end up like a bheegi billi in this city. You know how unsafe this city is these days". He crossed his fingers, hoping she'd agree without a long debate.
"Hmm....alright. Gimme a couple of minutes to freshen up and pack my stuff."
Jagan smiled to himself. This was turning out to be a dream come true. He'd had the hots for Shruti since a year now. But the most time he'd so far spent with her alone would be around a minute at best at the water cooler, just exchanging pleasantries. Now was his chance to spend a lot of 'quality' time with her. The ride back home would be a good hour-long one, which could be extended with a few strategic speed adjustments. His brain starting flooding with ideas.
"I'm ready, let's go", she said, interrupting the devil's workshop.
He picked up his stuff and they went down to the parking lot. In a minute, they were in the car and on the wet road.
Paying absolutely no heed to the heavy plonking of raindrops on the windshield, Jagan mustered up a few words of conversation, "So...erm...you live alone in this city?"
"Yeah. Anyway we spend all our day at work, no? All I need is a place to play my head in the nights and to store my stuff, so it's all fine", she smiled.
"But this place you stay in...", he looked at the desolate road in front of him. "It's really God-forsaken, dontcha think? Can't see a soul here. How long to your hostel from here?"
"About 10 minutes, and then we'll get back to some trace of human existence", she winked.
"Don't you get scared?"
She shook her head, "I have a roomie."
"Oh...what about the other aspects of your life? Do you party during weekends?"
"Naw...I hate parties. I'd rather spend the whole weekend catching up on some rest or reading stuff. Plus, I have my roomie to chill out with."
"Seriously? You don't party? What about your love life?" he began to get intrusive. "Do you have a boyfriend?"
"Nah!", she laughed, "Don't have time for relationships. You know where we work, right?"
They both laughed. Jagan smiled a little extra to himself at the lack of competition.
Suddenly, they heard a weird sound. The car started wobbling.
Jagan instinctively knew what this was, but he didn't tell. He smiled discreetly. 'The tyre couldn't have chosen a better time to get punctured.', he thought to himself, smacking his lips in anticipation. His mind veered to scenes from tacky Bollywood masala movies.
Rainy night - punctured tyre - stranded couple - wet bodies - scary thunder claps - shady motel room - hormones out of control - clothes peeling off - action between the sheets. His mind went into overdrive.
"Jagan!" he was woken out of his wet dream by Shruti. "What was that sound? Why did you stop? Is everything..."
"Bad luck Shruti, the tyre's punctured."
"Ohhh...what are you gonna do now?"
"Is there a motel nearby?"
"We can't stay all night inside the car, when it's raining outside, no?"
She laughed out loud. "Dude, my hostel's just a couple of kilometres away."
"Yeah, but how on earth are we..."
Before he could finish his sentence, she yanked out her phone and called someone.
"Baby, where are you? I'm stuck in the rain. On the old service road...yeah...just a couple of kilometres away...tyre punctured baby..."
"Hey...who's that you're speaking to?"
He had his answer earlier than he'd like to. In less than 3 minutes, a strapping guy arrived on a bike. Sandesh his name was, or something like that. Jagan didn't want to remember. He was her roomie she said.
And never in his life was he ever gonna forget swallowing what he thought was a heavy heart, while watching the couple speed away on that bike, leaving him all alone to fend for himself in the rain.