The monsoon rain fell in thick sheets, the cruel drops impinging upon fragile bodies, sending them scampering for cover. The clouds gurgled with laughter, watching the futile efforts of drenched mortals trying to shelter under a tree.
I reminisced about the happy times he and I had spent together at Marine Drive. He. The one who my heart beat for. Strong and virile. And I was then beautiful and comely. In my arrogant youth, when I believed I’d stay young and lovely for ever. If he had been around, he’d still have loved me. Like before. Despite my scars and ugliness.
I remember the time when I was his soul and he was mine. When our identities blended with each other so well that no one knew where one ended and the other began.
No matter how clichéd it sounds, in his case and mine, it had been love at first sight. No one else had ever evoked the same feelings, the now familiar rush of emotion in my heart. I reciprocated his feelings, and we became inseparable companions. For a while, at least. We believed that we were meant to be together. He and I. I and him. We
But, that was only till they came. Those cruel men, with cold steel in their hearts, veneered under thin smiles made of plastic. I shrieked and struggled, but to no avail. Vain were my cries of help, and he could do nothing but watch in anguish, as I was defiled by those monsters.
I remember my appeals to you, to you who stood there in mute stupefaction, gaping at the dastardly dervish dance that went on in front of your very eyes. You never came to my aid. You shrugged your shoulders mournfully, and went away.
The rain fell in thick sheets, trying to wash off their filth from me, trying to cleanse my soul with its sheer impact. And he writhed in agony from the blows that they had landed on him. I took him under my fold, and we wept.
But you never noticed.
He was a tough character. He wouldn’t die on me just yet. He managed to drag himself around, just to lend me strength and help me live.
You rejoiced in your cowardice, rejoiced at the fact that he still lived. That’s when I learnt to hate you. That’s when I realised that your life revolved only around yourself. You only stopped to capture a vicarious thrill, an adrenaline rush of being in the thick of things. You never even cared.
You were not there when they had come again. One night, when all was quiet, those men with faces cloaked in darkness came. The evil glint of their weapons still gives me sleepless nights. I cower in fear, dreading that they may return yet another day.
The rain fell, washing away the blood from his mortal wounds as he lay there. You never came.
He died that night.
On those monsoon nights, when the clouds rumble in anger at your cowardice, and the sea threatens to breach its shores in its angst, the wind carries my whispered longings away to where I think he can still hear me.
I’m a broken shell, an old woman pitted ugly sores, brought low by my own hubris and your cowardice.
I am Mumbai.