The Lull Before The Storm.

Four years ago, on this very date, I published my first blog post at 1406 hours. It was only fitting, therefore, to re-post it today, on this blog’s fourth anniversary, at the exact same time to celebrate the feat.
And so today I bring to you, a short story written by a four-years-younger-me — A story that I call, “The Lull Before The Storm.

***

I opened my eyes. The weather was grey and it matched my mood. Then it struck me. I was running late. What will he think…to keep him waiting? I got out of bed reluctantly. I wanted put on anything and step out. But I couldn’t. I looked at myself in the mirror, unable to recognize myself. God what had I done to myself. The marks of the tears, and the shabby hair… It looked as if I had just escaped a hurricane. Halfheartedly, I pulled out a green satin dress from the wardrobe. It was his favorite. I thought I could make up to him for being late by putting it on. After having decided my apparel, I went to the bathroom.

It was so cold… I wanted to get back in the bed, to the comfortable and warm quilts and to wash off the tension with a luxurious pot of coffee. I wanted to go off to sleep, thinking that that night was just another nightmare. I knew I couldn’t. I had already wasted two days and three nights that way. Shrugging these thoughts off, I turned the tap on and water started gushing out. I felt the water with my hand and it was so cold that my hand froze. I turned on the water heater when I realized that there was no electricity in the little flat. What a day! I started heating the water on the stove, knowing that it would take ages. I had to hurry up… he was waiting for me…

Finally I had managed to fill a bucket and a half with hot water. I took the buckets to the bath and filled the tub with them. Thoughtlessly, I got in the tub and then jumped out of it as the water was too hot to enter. I sat down beside the tub and waited for the water to become fit for bathing. His thoughts filled my mind. I had tried endlessly to forget that night but to no avail. The picture was vividly clear at the back of my head. The last night, I slept fitfully. My thoughts came before my eyes in the form of terrible nightmares. I wish I had got some peaceful sleep, that wouldn’t have made me so not-ready for today’s meet.

As the temperature of the water started receding slowly, I couldn’t help but think of him. How would he react when I broke the news to him? What will he say? I had failed miserably to bring myself to terms with the news. Oh God! What am I to do?

After some minutes had gone by, I felt the water again, hoping it was ready. It was. That was the first thing that happened according to my wishes, that day. I slowly entered the bath tub. The warm water felt like a thousand needles piercing through my skin. The pain was excruciating but it was not more than what I was already going through. I washed myself with gentle hands and got out of the tub. I wiped myself and looked at my face in the mirror. It was better than it was when I woke up, but it wasn’t as good as he’d expect it to be. I got out of the bathroom and dressed myself carefully. I sat on the vanity chair and tried to recall the way I used the powder and the assorted cosmetics. Those things seemed alien to me. The last few days had made me age. With some difficulty, I added the finishing touches to my hair and face and deemed myself ready. I was finally ready! I checked the time and became conscious that I was late by 45 minutes. What must he think? I have to run. I left my apartment in haste. I descended the stairs, got in my van, brought the engine to life and drove on. There was not a soul in sight. For me, it was the calm before the storm.

I finally reached the elected place, by the sea. He was still there, his back towards me, staring at the endless horizon. I wondered what he was thinking about. I took some time, gazing at him, appreciating him, before confronting him. As if sensing my presence, he turned around and stared at me. His expression unreadable, his eyes unfathomable. He started walking towards me, slowly at first and then gaining speed. I didn’t realize it before I was in his arms. My eyes were moist with tears. Memories of my childhood came flooding back. It had been so long since I had seen him. I wanted time to stop for eternity. He was the first to break the silence.

“What took you so long? I was imagining all sorts of things.”

“Sorry.”

“Oh please don’t be! Anyway, why did you want to meet me? Anything important?”

Tears filled my eyes. I saw the surprised expression on his face. At that moment, I wanted to jump in the water; after all, God had a purpose of us meeting at the sea shore. He took me in his arms. In between sobs, I told him the ugly truth,

“Mihal is dead, dad… he is no more, your son is no more…!”

I started crying like a baby. His shock and dismay were unimaginable. Although he tried to hide his pain, his eyes gave away…they were dead. “How?” he asked, stoned. And I told him about the dreadful car accident.

my chest smarted… sobs choked my voice

He didn’t make any efforts to hide his agony now. His eyes welled with tears and we both knew that they were incapable of washing away the agony of our loss. None of us said a word. There was nothing left to say. As if with mutual understanding, we got up, held each other’s hand and started walking down the shore. In silenced words, we both were telling each other that no matter what happens we will always be there for each other.

***

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