Strangers who read

Has it ever happened to you?

How you meet people for a short amount of time and they become so important to you.

 

The rained poured down from heaven like it had serious issues with the people of Earth.

I had an awful day at college and the rain had made it worse. I did not want to take up engineering but after much thought I decided to do it anyway. I was in 3rd year and was yet to find a person who remotely shared the same interests I had. Teachers are always complaining and one particular teacher decided to test my patience by mocking at my art skills, which by the way I believe are above average.

I looked at phone cover. “Mischief Managed” it read. I looked at the time and realized that the bus was late. I had been waiting for 15 minutes at the bus stop and was completely drenched because among all days, today was the day I had forgotten my umbrella. The tin shelter that the bus stop provided wasn’t really helping.

 

I realized that I wasn’t alone. There was a man sitting on the bench who was drenched too. He wore denim and a brown leather jacket. He looked mature because of his beard but maybe he’s not that old.

I became conscious of what I was wearing. My white shirt was nearly transparent. I looked at him again and realized that he was reading something.  I tried to peek but I was standing at least 3 foot away from the bench.

 

“I’m reading ‘Veronika decides to die’ ” he said with a smile.

“I don’t know what you are talking about”, I said.

I know you were staring at me.

I was not!

Are you sure?

I mean I just wanted to see what you were reading.

Come on then, sit. I promise I don’t bite.

 

A raindrop trickled down by nose. This shelter was useless.

I sat next to him and he showed me the book. The book wasn’t an original and probably picked up from some book fair where they sold books in kgs. Some of the pages were moist because they had become wet. The cover of the book was pretty. It was a beautiful shade of blue. I went through some pages and realized that he had marked some lines with his pen.

I looked at him.

“I know, I know it’s not very nice to make markings with a pen”, he said.

But I couldn’t help it. This book is good, it gave me goosebumps.

Just then I noticed that he had a tattoo on his left arm.

“It cannot be..”, I said.

“Yes, we all make questionable decisions”, he said.

He had a tattoo of the ‘deathly hallows‘.

I squealed and then realized that I was being weird.

He went on to tell me that he got it when he was in 3rd year, architecture. He was even in the book club in his college. He was into fandoms just like I was. He suggested me to read other books and start maybe R.R. Martin or J.R.R. Tolkien. He was pretty confident that I wouldn’t be disappointed. I had only read Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and some other classics. Nevertheless I loved it.

I was disappointed when I had no one to share my interests with in my college but maybe I had found a friend in an unlikely stranger.

For 15 minutes, we talked about college, friends, aliens and even politics. He had his views and I had mine but for some reason we connected and I could tell that. He knew it too.

The area had become foggy now and I could hear the bus coming. The rain had settled for now but it had started to get cold. I stood up, picked up my bag and tried to look around.

Aren’t you coming? I asked.

No, I’m waiting for a friend.

Going somewhere?

Yes, my Ex-gf’s wedding.

I let out a laugh.

You’re joking.

“I’m not”, he said. He looked broken and stoic at the same time.

 

The bus conductor told me to get in immediately and as I stood inside, he handed me the book.

I looked at him, confused.

The bus began to move and I heard him say

“Take care and be safe. I’d like to you meet you again someday”.

Before I could respond, he was out of sight because of the fog.

 

I came down with a fever and couldn’t go to college for 2 days. All I could think about was how could I be so stupid. I didn’t even ask his name. I didn’t know how old he was or if he was a student or an employee somewhere. I knew nothing. The weather had gotten worse and I was tired of staying in bed.

I felt better so I got down the bed and looked around the room, I saw the book lying on my desk.

I touched it and remembered how dark his eyes looked. The heavy downpour only reminded me more of him.

Maybe we’re meant to meet some people for a short amount of time. He made me feel better about my life in college. Told me how I would surely find someone who was as obsessed with books as I was. We shared a connection. I cannot explain, how it felt but it was something different. Something I hadn’t felt before.

 

I could feel sun seeping in through the curtains, it had stopped raining.

I opened the first page of the of the book

I smiled.

Took my phone from the bed and carefully dialed a number.

“A faint clap of thunder;
Clouded skies;
Perhaps rain comes – if so, will you stay here with me?”
“A faint clap of thunder;
Even if rain comes not;
I’ll stay here, together with you…”

-Garden of Words

 

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