Renu* 27 is pursuing a Phd at the Lucknow University.
We first met on a cool foggy winter morning. I had reached the University at about 8 but my class got cancelled. So a friend and I went to a tea-stall nearby and ordered tea and bun-makkhan. However, what we got instead was tea and bun-malai.
Of course, I went to complain and return it. Instead I ended up chatting with Sharad – the customer who had got my order. He was an aspiring advocate, interning with a law firm. Our conversation lead to more teas and then – exchange of numbers.
I was a studious girl brought up by strict parents. Though Sharad and I exchanged numbers, calling from home was not always a possibility. The tea chats soon turned into meal dates. If winter was about sowing the seeds of romance, spring was about seeing it blossom.
Often after classes or in the evenings, I would sneak out of the house to meet him. My friends were surprised at the speed at which we were going, but all I felt was love.
The harsh summer
Summer holidays were a pain. It was difficult to get out to meet him. There were no classes and it was so hot! So my entire excitement centered on planning for his birthday in early July.
I spent about a fortnight looking for a perfect gift for Sharad. I wrapped it up and asked his friend to keep it until his birthday for me. This way no one would be suspicious at my home. He also lived quite close to Sharad.
I also planned for the day carefully – ordered a birthday cake and a special lunch date. However, what I didn’t plan for was rain!
It was raining on and off for a day or two before his birthday. I was worried but what I didn’t expect was a downpour on the morning of his birthday. I had to cancel the cake and the lunch date as rain made it impossible to get out of the house!
I thought of getting the cake delivered at his place but the thought – what he would tell his parents – stopped me.
It’s raining romance
Finally, I asked his friend to go and give him the present. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t call or see Sharad. Afterall, it was his first birthday with me.
His friend messaged me that he delivered my gift around 5 pm. My mother felt some pity on me and seeing that I was low asked my sister to take me out to Hazratganj for an ice cream.
A friend, who knew my plight, came along. We went and stood under the shed and ordered an ice-cream at about 6 in the evening.
That blue raincoat
Once I stepped out of the shop, my friend teasingly asked me to stop looking at the ice-cream varieties and then pinched my hand to make me look in the opposite direction. I saw a man in a blue raincoat.
He parked his scooter, took off his raincoat and started strutting around like a model. That was the shirt I had gifted Sharad! It was Sharad getting wet in the rain! It was Sharad!
He had come all the way to show me that he had received my present! I was so happy to see him and it cheered me like no ice cream could have!
And of course, how could I let go of this awesome guy, who had braved the monsoon and Lucknow jams, to make me smile?
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.