Unreal

“I AM on my way,” I said as I opened the door to my cupboard. I was on the phone with my friend who was sitting alone at a colleague’s wedding. We’d both promised the bride we’d make it, and she had whereas I was, well, I was still in my PJs.

It was her exasperated phone call that had woken my from Saturday evening slumber. It was drizzling outside, scratch that, it was POURING cats and dogs outside, all the more reason for me to lie low. If anyone knew me better, it would have never to expect me step out in the rain.

“It’s because she fears she’ll be struck by lighting. You know, because she’s a first born,” my high school best friend had always offered to all the confused looks as it why I always failed to show up on a rainy day.

Okay yes, I was super superstitious. My mom never made us go to school on the days it rained when we were young and it somehow stuck to me. Obviously as I grew up I realized why it was. Our school was a walking distance away and she walked me and my brother every day. Except the days it rained. Obviously.

“No you’re not! You’re still at home! You forgot didn’t you?!” I forgot she was on the phone too. Goldfish memory.

“Okay, technically I am on my way since I have started getting ready. You know my stance on casual wear but turning up at a wedding in PJs is pushing it, don’t you think? Anyway, going to call a cab as soon as I am ready-

“I am calling you a cab myself. I don’t care if you are in your PJs, just be here!” She cut me off.

“Oookay. Don’t need to do that, I said I’ll be there.”

“I am not taking the risk. I’ll send you the cab details. Now move on!” And with that she shut the phone making me question why I was friends with her.

My phone pinged as I was ironing my hair. Wow that was quick I thought as I glanced at the notification. True to her word, or rather threat, M had sent me a cab. Finding a cab on a Saturday evening is not easy, how M has managed it was commendable.

I shut off the iron, tied a scarf over my head. Not taking a risk with leaving them open in this humidity.

“Hello, yes I am on my way, you’ll get the notification soon. Track my ride, happy. Anyway, where am I headed? Did you feed in the location in the app while ordering or do I have to guide him?” I spoke into the phone as I stepped into the elevator.

“I added it, just make him drop you right at the entrance because it was quite a puddle at the gate and they are still working on draining the water.”

“Right, thank you! and see you soon” I clicked shut my phone and put in my purse.

As I reaching my building door, I called the cab driver to pull up near the entrance because no chance that I would be able to spot the car in the rain. A minute later a silver car drove at the entrance.

I rushed out and into the backseat. Phew.

“Hi, umm I’ve added the location in the app, just follow the directions, thanks” I told the cab driver as I opened my purse to take my compact mirror out.

He cleared his throat to acknowledge he heard me because a second later he pulled the car out of the building’s main gate.

Making conversation with the cab drivers was never my thing. Ever since *that* unfortunate episode in India, I had almost sworn off the app for good. Thankfully newer and better startups have saved my life because I would be nowhere without cabs, literally.

The ride to the wedding venue was uneventful. We drove in silence, which worked best for me.

We came to stop in front of a ground that was lit up with fairy lights. Finally there. and in time. The rain has finally come to a stop. I could see a few cars parked around the ground.

I asked the driver to pull the car near the entrance because M was right, it was a puddle near the gate alright.

He came to a stop near the entrance and I took my wallet from my purse. I was about to ask him how much I owed him when he handed me a receipt without turning back.

I checked the receipt, added a 10% tip and paid him in cash, thanked him and left the cab.

I spotted M sitting typing furiously on her phone, probably giving her fiance for ditching her.

“I am here, love!” I cheered as I walked up to her.

“Finally!” She stood up to hug me.

“No hard feelings, right?” I hugged her back.

“Of course not!”

“Everything alright? You look a little upset.” I looked at the cell phone clutched in her hand.

“Oh that’s nothing. You know H is being an ass, says won’t come to pick me. So I was threatening to take a ride back with N. Ha! That should make him see sense.”

I snorted. Gotta give it to M. She knew how to pull strings with men unlike me. We sat down as I contemplated on my failed attempts at relationships or rather relationship when M’s finger snapping pulled me out of my reverie.

“What, sorry?”

“M.Z.?”

“What?” My heart skipped a beat. That name. How did M knew that name?

“I said, how much do you want me to rate M.Z. Umm the cabbie who drove you here? Was it a pleasant ride?”

I took a deep breath. It was a coincidence. It’s not possible. Him. Here. And that too as a cab driver. No. It was too good to be true.

“Are you okay?” M asked.

“Yes, err yeah rate him fine. And umm I’ll be back in a minute.”

I rushed out of the marquee. For someone as superstitious at me, it was ignorant to ignore such a twist of fate staring at you in the face. Maybe it was just all in my head, as it had been all those years ago. But then the tiny little voice in my head came out stronger.

It could be nothing but at least you won’t mope over it for another decade if you missed this chance.

Chance for what? What exactly was I expecting? Definitely not him still out there. And definitely him not being who my crazy mind thought he was.

Not caring about the water destroying my shoes, I ran towards the exit gate. But of course his car was nowhere in sight. I took my phone out and re-read the message M had sent a while back with the cab drivers details. She’d only sent me the car number and model. I glanced at the parking lot but no car matched the description.

It was too good to be true, I told myself again. You’re acting like a maniac again. Need I remind you this was exactly why he left.

It was his voice that woke me up from the trance. I would know that voice anywhere. It was the same whisper I yearned to hear for years, it was the voice that had haunted me every night.

Even I was surprised how powerless I still felt at hearing my name in that voice. Dare I turn back and face the cause of my weakness? I was rooted at the same spot and it must have alarmed him for he stepped in front of me and our eyes met.

I didn’t want to break the eye contact, I wasn’t sure I could break it.

 

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