“Do you remember that night, Meera? It was devilish, wasn’t it? As if our city, the “city that never sleeps,” stood still! The city of our dreams, the city that fulfilled our desires, and the city that helped us meet, was dead that day!”
“Of course Raghav! How can anyone forget “The Day?” It was definitely devilish. But I am glad we met “them” that day, 26 July 2005. It was as if we did something that will make us proud for the lifetime.”
It was 26 July 2005. Mumbai was flooded. The city that is said to be moving forever, stood that day. It left everyone bewildered. On 26 July 2005, at 2.00 p.m heavy storm struck the beautiful and always-moving Mumbai city. Heavy rain, waterlogging followed thereafter.
Raghav called Meera at 2.30 p.m. that day. “Let’s take a half-day and reach home as soon as possible. What say Baby? We’ll spend a wonderful evening at home. Thank god it rains, but this time, I guess it’s different. MET Department has warned too. You wait for me at Churchgate. We’ll take the BEST from there.”
“All right sweetheart. I’ll cook at home. Let’s hang up. I’ll write a mail for half-day leave and will meet you at Churchgate at 3.30p.m. Love you loads. Bbye.” And Meera hung up the phone.
Both Raghav and Meera left their offices at 3.00 p.m. that day. It was pouring heavily. They were rain-locked! At first, both Meera and Raghav thought it was pretty normal in Mumbai. But eventually, the scenario started changing. Raghav, very tense with each passing minute, started calling Meera after every 15 minutes. The battery was discharging and so was his energy. It was for the first time in three years of their marriage that Raghav felt like he couldn’t do anything to be with Meera as soon as possible. With each passing minute, he felt more and more nervous. He just wanted Meera by his side now.
It was 3.30 p.m. Meera and Raghav had decided to meet at this time at Churchgate to catch a BEST bus back to Mahim. Meera didn’t call Raghav till now. “What’s wrong? Why is she not calling? How can my “always-creeping” wife not call me at a tense situation like this?” The unconstructive thoughts that kept cropping in Raghav’s head were driving him crazy and to add to the agony, the mobile’s battery was about to die! How on earth would he know where Meera was? His head starting banging and his heart beat a little louder with each passing minute.
He was on the auto-rickshaw, but seeing the situation, he decided to walk instead! At around 4.30 p.m., Raghav’s phone rang. He pulled out the phone from his pocket immediately and felt relieved when he saw “Meera calling.” Thank God! As soon as he was about to press the green button, the battery died! He felt like throwing away his phone. Meera had always asked him to keep his phone charged completely in the night itself, but he never listened to her. He felt sorry and very helpless. On his way to Churchgate, he started listening to the “agony tales” of people. Not the “very-disturbing” ones, but yes, the ones that put his heart to an even tenser situation.
He just felt like holding Meera and embracing her in his arms. He kept moving and the water on the roads kept rising up. It was already 6 p.m. The traffic on the roads seemed like never-ending. It felt like nothing on Earth could help clear the traffic, it was so awful! Raghav’s apprehensions started rising more and more. Every step on the water-logged road, gave him pain. He wanted his wife, no matter what. He wanted to be at home with her. He just wanted her by his side.
The previous day, she had been really happy, after a long time because Raghav had agreed to her wish! It was time to be happy once again. They had decided..they had taken a decision after a lot of “ifs and buts.”
Raghav’s mind was completely drifted. He wanted to stop and put aside the downbeat thoughts. He stopped at a raised platform that he had seen from a distance. He closed his eyes and prayed to God.
“She has suffered a lot lately. Today, I just pray to you to keep my wife safe. I promise I will always be a wonderful husband to her. I promise I will forever be by her side…in joys..in sorrows..in each and every situation of life. I pray for her safe life God! Please help me! Show me a way!”
He felt a lot better after praying. He remembered how Meera and he had suffered a month ago. He remembered how she had cried her heart out when the gynecologist had told her that she could never be a mother. Raghav had felt terrible too, but he was strong so that he could support her. But Meera had lost all her strength to the pitiable news. She had stopped eating, stopped sleeping. All she did was, cry. She cried all day, all night. She hadn’t talked to her friends, hadn’t been to the office and hadn’t even talked to Raghav. It took his entire strength to bring Meera back to life. Lately, they had decided that they would adopt a baby girl. After a lot of discussions, Raghav had convinced his family and Meera was coming back to life on hearing this good news!
Standing on the road in the heavy rain, Raghav thought of his wonderful life with Meera. They were married for three years now. They had waited for seven years to get married and life was great after their wedding. Only the bad news had put their life off-course, but otherwise, they were a very happy couple…a couple that everyone felt jealous of! He had already lost her once; he didn’t want to lose her again.
After gathering up all his strength, he started walking in the rain once again. Churchgate was just near now. It took him hours to reach from his office to Churchgate. Feeling a little positive now, he expected that Meera would meet him at the same place where they had always met during dating. It was their fixed place. He wanted to run, so he could get a glimpse of her and hold her so that he would never let her go anywhere now. He just wanted to fly and be with her, by hook or by crook! The nearer he went, the faster he walked. On nearing even more, he started searching for her face. He looked here and there. It was 7 p.m. now and unfortunately, the absence of light had made things worse. It was difficult to search for Meera.
He just wanted to cross through all the faces and stand alongside her, just like the day he had stood on their wedding day. He wanted to see no other person, except her. He wanted the world to go blur, like it did when he and Meera were together in each other’s arms. He just wanted everything to get out of his sight, so he could see Meera and take her back home. Now, he wanted to plan his family with her, like he had always wanted. He wanted to live the life he had dreamt of…sorry…the life “they” had dreamt of.
As he reached “Meera-Raghav Dating Point,” tears fell through his eyes. He had thought all through his way that he would just hug her tight and never let her go when he looked at her at Churchgate, but now, on seeing her standing at a safe shelter, he just stood and cried! He couldn’t run. He couldn’t walk a step forward. He just looked at her soft face and a smile on her face….and cried! He looked up at the sky and thanked God with all his heart. Meera, after looking at him…came to him, wiped off his tears and hugged him tight, as if she was assuring him that everything was alright..that she was alright….that his fears were untrue….and that she…she was still safe…and ALIVE!
Raghav and Meera hugged each other for long as he cried like a little baby. That day was terrible, not just for Raghav and Meera, but also for Payal and Khanak…and for each and every Mumbaikar rain-locked in the heavy rains that day.
Who were Payal and Khanak in the tale of Rajhav and Meera?
That day, on 26 July 2005, Rajhav and Meera struggled terribly to reach their home at Mahim. After seeing each other, when they decided to proceed ahead to their home, they came across a sight that would have shaken anyone’s heart. On the roads full of water, where each and everyone was helping each other for the sake of humanity, the extremely self-centered and heartless people had left their twin new born daughters on the road to die! It was appalling! The babies were asleep. Thankfully, the babies were left on the safer place where water hadn’t reached yet. Everyone was rushing to their homes. People wanted to be with their families. It broke Raghav and Meera’s heart to see how heartless people were. Despite noticing the babies, no one had paid one bit heed to do anything for them.
But, it had immediately clicked to both of them! On reaching close to these babies and holding them in the arms, both Raghav and Meera had looked at each other in approval and said, “They would complete our family!”
P.S.: The entire tale is fictitious. It has nothing to do with reality. I set the tale in the backdrop of Maharashtra flood of 2005. On 26 July 2005, around 2:00 p.m. the Mumbai Metropolitan Region was struck with a heavy storm.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) station in Santacruz had recorded a record 944 mm. of rain for the 24 hours ended at 08:30 a.m. on 27 July. Thousands of people were stranded in the heavy rains and floods and the city of Mumbai came to a standstill.