Antara was stuck in the rains. She just got out of work and the weather was not behaving. Her colleagues had proposed to go for drinks and watch the game but she had other plans. She just wanted to get back home, watch her favorite rom-com, sip on wine and cry when her favorite part of the movie arrives; where the guy leaves the girl for a better job and eventually finds his soulmate and they get hitched.
Antaras life was much simple. She was in her early 30’s. She had a great height and was also on the chubbier side. Her hair fell perfectly just a little below her hips. Her eyes could force any passerby to look at her twice. She lived alone in a studio apartment which was very cozy, decorated with bright coloured furnitures so her mellow life would seem a little less gloomy. She was successful at her career, handling a team of 30 people and daily making sure that they were motivated to grab onto more sales than the estimated budget of the year. She loved her job, her family, but something lacked in her life. She was heartbroken one time before and curled up in her bubble not trusting another man. She was not sure if she missed holding someone late in the night or just having someone to talk to in the day. She had changed but was also not so thrilled about any miracle.
Antara liked her space and often preferred to take an Uber home. Sometimes chatting away with the drivers about their struggles, or coming across someone who is way more educated than her and circumstances changed their lives forever. She loved to listen to others. On other days, she enjoyed her own company back home listening to music with her headphones on the highest possible decibel. As she struggled to open her umbrella and book the uber, her eyes straight went to the rate of the Uber GO which obviously was bizzare surge fare due to heavy rains. She lived almost an hour and half away from her office. Seeing no other option, she finally booked the Uber Pool which was comparatively cheaper (for the first time). She crossed her fingers before her cab arrived and prayed for no other rider in the cab as she was alien to this system of socialism.
A young driver playing really loud music with his windows rolled down almost drifted as he approached her. He nearly got her white kurti all mucky with the stunts he tried to display. Antaras mood was fucked up by now. Even if she wanted to, she could not have had a conversation with the driver for obvious reasons. She got on carefully and the driver with a smile on his face said “Sorry Madam! My energy level spike up when it rains. Hope your dress is fine. Shall I switch on the AC?” Antara being the sweet soul she is fell for it and courteously replied with a “Yes, Please! Thank you bhaiya!” She plugged on her favorite Chill mix for the season and almost was lost in her own daze. Staring at the crowd. How the mothers took their kids safely back home from school, or how the puppy got so playful with his friends, and how the tall buildings looked so blurry through her window screen vaporized due to the air conditioning. She noticed the driver clicking on some buttons on his phone and immediately she got a notification on her phone which said “Riding with Aahaan”. She was not even 5 mins in her ride and now she had to share the cab with someone else. What about her chilled glass of wine and that super emotional movie waiting for her back home. As the locations don’t disclose until the rider boards the cab, she had no idea of the delay.
The cab stopped near an ATM and it was still raining like crazy. A tall man wearing a white shirt, holding no umbrella who was obviously super drenched hurriedly opened the back seat door and got on. The first thing he did was greet the driver and spun his head like a dog spurting all the water onto her. He looked at her and instead of an apology pushed in closer and smiled at her. She gave him a super smirky look. As if she could shoot lasers from her eyes if she had the power. She assumed he got onto Pools often as he looked pretty comfortable in the cab. He asked for the Aux cable and plugged in his phone. Antara was curious to know what kind of songs was he into. She could not deny that the man was handsome. Apart from the height which attracts her the most, he had a stubble, well fitted formals and a pretty fancy looking watch. Even though he was dripping wet, he smelled like Musk. He was playing one of her all time favorite hindi classics. She packed her headphones in her bag. Subtly trying to do so, the guy noticed. He broadened a smile larger than the one he gave her before and asked “Like this song much? I was about to change it.” She smiled and asked him to play it once from the beginning if he did not mind. He happily agreed. They introduced each other and one topic led onto another. They found out that they lived in the same locality and he worked as a Consultant for an audit firm. He was the stark opposite character of hers. Over energetic and always had a sneaky laugh behind every sentence of his. She surprisingly was not repelled by a man after a long time. Maybe it was the compulsion of sharing the ride. But she seemed to be enjoying his company. The rains dropped down to drizzles and Aahaan took out a cigarette from his pocket. By now even the driver was happily listening to Aahaans playlist and probably remembering his girlfriend. He asked the driver to roll down the windows so he could light up the smoke. Usually Ubers strictly do not allow smoking in the vehicles but on rare days such as this, he too lit up a smoke. Aahaan offered Antara a Classic Mild from his pack. She flinched at first but then the weather and her body needed this high more!
As she was a good listener, her efforts made were zero. As they took drags of the last puff of their smoke, he kept ranting about his family, his past relationships and so much more. She was so enticed by the way he animated the events in that tiny space, she did nothing but emote by giving only expressions on her face. He was a charmer. No denying that. As they crossed above a lovely bridge that was recently constructed, they both looked out of their windows and something about the road she traveled on every single day felt different. She definitely discovered the pluviophile in her. She chased the smell of the wet rains, the mud, the air felt so fresh. Aahaan turned towards her and quizzically looked at her. She could sense he wanted to ask something but hesitated. “Is there anything you would like to ask me?” She asked. He finally took a breath and was relieved that she understood. “Would you like to get down a little before our stop? I really wouldn’t mind grabbing a cup of tea and another Classic with a company as lovely as yours.” She happily agreed. The driver stopped where Aahaan wanted them to get down. They got off and sat at a small tea shop. A new story unfurled.
Everything happens kind of the way it’s supposed to happen, and we just watch it unfold. And you can’t control it. Looking back, you can’t say, ‘I should’ve… ‘ You didn’t, and had you, the outcome would have been different