It had been pouring all morning. The rain pelted down like Spartan arrows, and as whatsapp texts swore, the lower half of Shyam Lal College was already drowned. Some of my friends though, despite the torrent, had travelled all the way from Rohini and Nangloi to Shahdra to attend college, but now they sat with sullen faces, playing Balloon Pop in their generous smartphones, waiting for the rain to go ebb away.
Rohit dropped in at around 10 am, followed by two more people. We set up the chessboard and played a few boring games. It was decided that we would take a day off, but sitting idle only wakes up the wanderlust inside Rohit, and so, he came up with this great idea,
“Let’s go somewhere. Qutub Minar? ”
It took me some time to make up my mind. Lazybones! After I prepared myself for a long drenched day, I started calling everyone. A few of them said it was pouring in buckets and they hated rain and everybody should hate rain because rain brings flood and that we should drop our plans. As you know, every adventure comes with a bout of hitches. There were plenty in this one too.
Two of them didn’t have a metro card, so, as we reached Welcome Metro station, we went upto this vending machine to get the tokens. They put the money in and waited for the tokens to drop. But the machine was a bit of a runt – it won’t take anything but fresh crisp notes. Some billion light years later, it took pity on us and accepted the note. But didn’t release the tokens.
“What the fuck! “They shouted together. The screen promised that it was processing the transaction, so we stood by, waiting patiently, wondering if it was Mishra that should be blamed for the ordeal. Mishra is a jinx – once he had accompanied us to the zoo and it turned out that they kept it closed on Fridays.
“That’s not fair. “Mishra protested. “You should have known zoos are closed on Friday. ”
Nobody believed him.
The crowd behind us was growing fretful with time.
We called the staff and he pretended to study the screen carefully.
“There’s a countdown. “He pointed at the upper right corner of the screen where infinitesimal numbers were decreasing every second. “Wait for it to finish. ”
And so, we waited. It was just a 90 second wait, but when you have a digital clock making you aware of the existence of every single second, the wait becomes a billion years long. The tokens dropped back, eventually. And we took the train and reached Kashmiri Gate at around 12:00pm.
There, we met Shivam, and as the train arrived, we jostled through the crowed to bag a seat. Three of us got the seats, one being Mishra. It was a long journey, so we spent it playing the game How-Jinxed-Mishra-Is? Everybody started throwing their ideas, and somebody said Mishra is such a jinx that when he visits a haunted house, the ghosts rush to the priests to get themselves cleansed with Holy Water.
On the way, it started raining again. The train stopped at a bridge, from where all we could see were wet lush green trees and a dense valley, and it seemed we had been teleported to a hillstation.
It was a beautiful stillness, and the only thing that budged was raindrops on the window pane.
The train started again, and the rain grew stronger by the time we stepped onto the platform. We clicked a few selfies on the metro, and then exited the station. We waited outside for some time,waiting for it to go slow, but it never did.
“Maybe we should take an auto. “Hemant suggested. I didn’t know of a way to fit 7 people in an auto, so I wondered if one of us will have to sit on the lap of one of us. When I was a kid, I sat in a jeep on the lap of this uncle of mine. A few seconds later, I felt something hard beneath my butts. (No I wasn’t raped). I hate to sit on men’s lap since that day, though.
We waited for some time, and when the rain slowed down, Mishra walked out and we followed him. It was a mistake, because seventeen steps later, it started sheeting down. We ran, completely deficient of a strategy. I was sure we were running for an auto, or some cover, but a minute later, I realised we had left behind all the autos and were still galloping aimlessly down the road for some heavenly reason.
“What are we doing? “I screamed.
“Following Mishra. “Shivam shrugged his shoulders.
A minute later, Mishra stopped beneath a small tree. Everybody else stopped as well. I peered out into the distance, wondering if we had reached the Qutub Minar. Was Mishra jinxed enough to displace Qutub Minar from its place? Mishra looked at us in utter confusion, we looked at each other in utter confusion.
“What the hell just happened? “I asked.
“Were you guys following me? “Mishra asked, baffled. “I was just looking for a shelter. “He explained. I was so apoplectic I felt like punching Mishra. I ran for cover, and everybody followed me this time. People are fool, they will follow you for anything.
We found a shelter, a roof above a flight of steps, and sat there, watching the rain come down like magic, dipping the world in lush green.
The board above us read – Sulabh Shauchalaya.
To be continued…