The Storm - A short story
She looked outside. She was tired, very tired. A storm was forming again. She hoped this was not once again like last time's when it started to rain and felt like it would never stop. For 3 days, cooped up inside the house, glued to the television set, watching out the window as another dreary day of life descended into oblivion...she shuddered as she recalled those moments. In sharp contrast to the time she was so excited to hear about the storm warning. They had driven out to the sea, watched the storm in its infancy as it gathered strength somewhere far inside, the only indication of its mighty powers being the fierce winds and the huge waves, lashing against the rocks. The first time she had seen the water so far ahead that it was almost at the road. She had watched in wonder as the winds gained momentum, wanting nothing more than to stand in her spot when the storm hit the coast. To watch it unfurl its fury. "Foolish girl" her mother had said exasperatedly as she begged for one last time to spend a few more minutes.
"What do you want? To be swallowed whole by the storm?" She had chided. Foolish girl, she said again.
"But ma, what will happen in another 10 minutes?" she could hear the storms impending arrival. The wind was crazy now followed by an eerie sound. It sounded like someone, someone huge and big and great was howling. oh! To stand your place in face of such arrogance! Surely their new car could outrun the biggest storm.
"A lot can happen in 10 minutes dear. It could mean the difference between life and death.." she heard her father saying to her gently.
She still did not move. Her brother was already inside the car. Coward! She almost spat out.
"Look at how sensible your brother is. And look at you, wanting to take on the storm by yourself. Do you have any idea what it is to go against nature. Against God's will? Foolish girl!" Foolish girl, it seemed like every sentence of her mother's to her started and ended with those two words. Foolish girl - you did not comb your hair well. Foolish girl - whatever do you mean you don't want to eat this? Foolish girl - how many times have I asked you to stop getting lost in your thoughts and pay attention to the real world? Foolish girl - why do you insist on getting into the path of storms? It was like her name had been some miraculously changed to foolish girl. Where was the mother who used to call her loving as my little darling, my rose, apple of my eye - well atleast that was what she thought choni moni meant. How was all that replaced by that hateful foolish girl? But today she was not thinking of why that had happened. All she wanted then was a few more minutes - to have a peek at the wrath of nature, as she had so often heard the storm being referred to in the media. But no, trust her mother to drag her by her soul away from the thing she wanted to do the most.
Did the bai remember to bring the clothes in? She had warned her about the impending storm and had asked her to bring the clothes inside. She peeped out of the back window. All the clothes were swaying in all their splendor. Aaargh! Foolish woman, she thought as she stepped out. If she allowed the clothes to get wet, it would be so difficult to get them to dry. Lord only knew how many days the storm was going to ravage her city.
She steppped outside. The wind hit her with a force. The howling she discovered was not some mighty mean creature but the wind itself doing that. She hurried to the backyard and had a hard time trying to keep everything in place as she tried to collect the clothes. Some of them had already broken free of their clothespin and were having a whale of a time dancing to the wind. What a funny sight she must have presented as she scampered to gather everything, her own clothes trying to get rid of their clothespin! There! She finally had everything under control. She muttered curses towards the bai as she rushed towards the door. The rain drops were already falling. Pitter-patter, Pitter-patter.
oh no! she tried to increase the pace of her steps but the wind seemed to be pushing her back. The huge pile of clothes she held in her hands were not helping matters either. She suddenly had visions of the cow flying into the sky in a movie she had recently watched about a Tornado and she was petrified. She wondered if that could happen in stormy winds too? She did not want to think anymore. How many more steps to the damned door? Why did it feel like the cursed thing was stepping farther and farther away from her? Surely that must not be about 15 steps away. She took a few steps and looked up again. It still seemed to be the same 15 steps away. The rain drops who had announced their presence subtly were gaining momentum, they were getting more persistent, rougher, their caresses demanding more attentions as they started to increase the pressure. She looked up again. Surely she must be there. The door looked 15 steps away. Not one step closer. What was happening? Was this really happening? Had something killed her in the backyard and now she was in that state where she could not reach her door no matter how many steps she took? What crazy thoughts she was having, she said. It was just the wind pushing her back making her progress slower, she decided.
The rain drops were not rain drops anymore. They mingled to form a stream of water, drenching every part of her body and ofcourse the pile of clothes she had so painstakingly gathered, trying to protect them from getting wet. Now look at them, they were soaking wet. Well if it was any consolation they would have been wet even if she had left them outside. So it was not her fault. She had atleast tried so save them. But what about her? She was getting colder and colder. It was like the rain was drenching her soul and she could not stop it from taking over control no matter how hard she tried. She looked up. The door seemed farther away. Farther than the 15 steps. What was it now? 1 step forward and 2 steps backwards? This was getting too weird. She had to do something before the chill in her bones froze her to death. Bigger steps. Yes! That was the answer. A giant leap forward! she thought as she stretched out her leg. She slipped and down she went into the mud. The pile of clothes fell, she did too.
Surely this was not happening? This was just a joke. It had to be, there was no other explanation. She gathered herself to the best of her ability. She could smell some unpleasant things while she went face down in the water. The manholes must have started to overflow. Suddenly she felt sick. She had to get out of this. She renewed her efforts. She gathered herself up and pushed her feet hard. She was up for a second before she found herself in the stench again. She looked up. The door seemed closer. What was this? She could reach it by crawling instead of taking steps towards it? Maybe she should try that then. So she crawled. Inch by inch, painstakingly, on her knees, dragging her legs behind her. The foul smell did not seem to bother her as much as it did earlier as she was almost at the door. It took her a long time to get there, but she did. The rain seemed to have stopped, there seemed to be no effort to get up, she had miraculosuly dried, there was no chill, the pile of clothes was still in her hands - just the way everything was supposed to be. Or was it?
She glanced at the watch. 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes since she had been out to get the clothes. Her father had been right.
"Foolish girl" she thought she heard her mother utter somewhere in the background. her mother had been right too!