04. Storm | Patoli and Biryani

August 16, 2020 Sujay Sarma

Meeta ran out of the house as she heard my running footsteps approach. “Kai?” She asked concerned. She saw the terror in my eyes and heard my rasping breath. “Torch Man…” I panted. We had decided to call him that. “Yes?” She asked, taking the lunch bag off my hands and leading me indoors. I…


Meeta ran out of the house as she heard my running footsteps approach.

Kai?” She asked concerned. She saw the terror in my eyes and heard my rasping breath.

“Torch Man…” I panted. We had decided to call him that.

“Yes?” She asked, taking the lunch bag off my hands and leading me indoors.

I told her that day’s story as she made hot tea for both of us.

She looked at my furrowed brows. “You know nothing to tell anyone anyway.” She remarked.

I nodded. “Who knows, maybe he was returning after a…”

It started to rain as we spoke.

Meeta put a finger onto my lips to shut me up. “Shhaaa! Stop thinking about him. Go now and have a bath. I’ll get around to making dinner. Go!”

“Where’s Rajan?” I asked as I disappeared into the back of the house.

She shook her head. “Barsat.” She said indicating the rains. He would be late.

Rajan didn’t come home that night. There was a lot of lightning and thunder and heavy rain. In the morning, we found the lanes outside flooded in ankle-deep water. Luckily, the shack was built on a raised platform and the water was not high enough to breach it. Meeta tried a lot to get in touch with her husband, but cellular phone signals were spotty that day.

I could not help much. For one, I had no idea where he could be. And the TV said all the roads were flooded, I wouldn’t get very far.

I tried to sleep.

Meeta sat by the door, waiting for Rajan. She fell asleep fitfully, waking at every sound.

Utho!” She jogged me awake. “Arjun, utho!”

It was the early hours of morning. The water receded enough for me to try and venture out. Meeta packed some dry clothes for her husband and me and fresh hot food in a bag.

“Don’t worry, I will bring him back.” I tried to assure her as I headed out and waded through ankle deep water. I was doubtful about how far I could get before I would need to give up the search.

I didn’t find Rajan right away. I was almost about to give up take a fare. There were too many people trying to get somewhere and too few vehicles on the roads.

That was when I spotted a car, parked a little way inside a municipality park. I waved my potential fare away and drove toward the park.

Could it be Rajan? I wondered.

The park had a broken boundary wall and the driver of the parked car had managed somehow to get his car between the gap. Apparently, he was trying to get the car out of the water’s reach. Parking on the side of the road, I went up the little rise for a closer look.

It was Rajan’s car. But the man was nowhere to be found.

“Rajan!” I called, my hands cupped to my mouth.

“Here… I am here.” Answered a weak voice. I looked around to find him up a nearby Neem tree.

He seemed weak, wet and tired. And hungry. With some trouble and help from passers-by, I managed to get him down. He felt hot all over.

“I am fine. Take me home.” He insisted.

“You are burning up. You have a fever.” I admonished him. “Let’s get you to a hospital.”

Leaving his car behind, I took him to a nearby hospital.

I called Meeta and told her where to come.

“Where is he? Where is he?” She called worried, running in through the ward doors.

I pointed to the bed in a far corner. “Don’t worry, he is fine. Just a fever from being out in the rain.” I reassured her. “Just some rest and he will be alright.”

She ran to his side.

I needed a new pack of beedis. I was headed out of the hospital’s doors when I spotted Torch Man again. He was standing there, slouched against a nearby motorbike.

“How is he?” He asked. He seemed to know everything.

“Just a fever.” I muttered.

“He will be fine. Don’t worry.” The torch man said and walked away.

I stared after him in shock, when I felt a touch on my shoulder. It was Meeta. She was staring at the Torch Man departing too.

“Rajan said he was dropping off our torch man when the rain came down heavily.” She whispered.

I spun around in shock. “How does Rajan know Torch Man?”

She shook her head. “Not like that. I understood from his description.”

“He was just asking about Rajan.” I nodded in the direction of Torch Man.

Just then, the man turned around and smiled weakly before getting into a waiting autorickshaw. Even from the distance, I spotted the glint of a silvered tooth in his mouth.


About the author:

Sujay Sarma is an IT industry veteran, about 43 years of age. He has spent 25 years in the IT industry and has done it all, and seen it all. Now, his passion is writing [blogs, stories, novels] and music. He has his own YouTube channel called "Sujay Sarma's Musical Adventures" where he posts his covers and originals, and a Podcast named "Interesting People Interesting Stories".
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