Isha cursed herself as she looked around for shelter from the fierce thunderstorm around her. She should have packed and left too, when all her colleagues decided to shut their laptops and head home before the impending storm. But she was nearing a deadline and she had thought she had time to quickly wrap things up and then leave.
How wrong she was …!!
The thunderstorm was nothing like she had seen before, and definitely not caught outdoors with one, raging wildly. The rain fell hard on her body like pelting stones. She was completely drenched in seconds, her umbrella no match to the wind which snapped its bars.
There was a flash and a ears splitting crack of thunder boomed all around her. It was like the sound of thousand drums which suddenly beat in unison and seemed to crack her heart and bones into pieces. Quite afraid now, she ran and took cover under a large Ficus tree as more lightning streaks appeared in the dark ominous sky and the deafening sounds followed.
Her mother’s word echoed into her ears! Never take shelter under a tree during a thunderstorm.
She looked up at the majestic tree, planted by a wise man several decades back, to provide shelter to the pavement, for resting travellers, to stop and ponder over what next. The tree, however, looked far from majestic now. It was caught in a frenzy trying to defend itself from the thundering storm. Its branches clamouring wildly, and the sounds which emanated where far from the rhyme or rhythm which the wandering travellers would have heard. It was a howl of terror, something which Isha wanted to do too. The madly swaying branches looked like a dervish swooning and flapping his arms and legs wildly in meek submission to the effects of an uncontrolled power.
Isha looked around and could not see any souls around. No birds, no beasts and no humans around. Only that man in a black attire, across the street. She looked towards him and could see the eyes glistening, probably the glasses reflecting light. She seemed to remember seeing him when she had stepped out of office, but had not given much thought.
She contemplated moving away from this tree but the next huge Ficus tree was closeby too. Standing in between the two trees will not be a good idea either. Through the haze of hard pouring rain, she spotted a bus stand few hundred meters away and decided to jog towards that. She was drenched anyway and how wetter can she be.
She carefully started jogging towards it, avoiding puddles which have formed over the pavement covering treacherous holes perhaps. Few cars whizzed past with high beams. But other than the sound of howling winds and crack of thunders, her footsteps was the only evidence of another living soul …
She reached the bus stand, not much cover but she didn’t care. As she started wringing her dress and her hair to rinse the excess water, her eyes fell across the street. She saw the man in the black attire, his eyes still glistening. Has he been stalking her? Did he also run while she was?
A foreboding fear streaked across Isha’s body just like the lightening in the sky.
This man, if he had some sinister motive, could easily bound across the street and get her.
Isha choked with fear.
She looked around wildly for help … but from where, from whom?
She saw the familiar figure of a yellow green cab with unoccupied lights on, and started waving frantically at it. She kept looking fearfully at the dreadful figure across the street, afraid that, he might, seeing his prey can escape can quickly cross the street in two leaps and get her. There was no traffic at all to stop his movement.
Isha, now beyond any sense of wisdom or judgement, started waving and shouting at the cab, knowing that her sound is muted with all the cacophony around.
The cab was moving too slowly. Is it that the driver is unable to see her? Is the car having some technical problem? Then it is of no use. But at least it seemed to be coming her way, albeit slowly, too slowly. At least another human being!
What seemed like ages, the cab finally reached the bus stand and Isha grabbed the rear door and plunged inside, shutting the door hard, and heaving a sigh of relief.
The driver was in a black attire and he turned, with eyes glistening, he asked “Where to, madam?”
Isha’s hand flew over her mouth as she let out a piercing scream …
And sat up in bed …