Din dhal jaaye
I leaned back in my cane chair and smiled. You smiled back. The cool aftermath of rain left the evening scented and becalmed. Too early for frogs. The balcony had some puddles left still, but our corner was dry, our chairs in the usual places, the table between.
I hadn’t bothered to turn the lights on against the arriving night. We sat savouring the evening. The scent of raat ki raani arose presently, and I smiled again. You smiled back. So many memories hinge on that shrub and its fragrant flowers, do they not?
As dusk deepened into night I went in and fetched a drink. You raised yours in silent toast. We sat together, as always. On the balcony, among the scents of night blooming shrubs planted by some thoughtful gardener long ago, we sat together, as always.
The descending night brought its own haunting sounds. A flute sounded plaintively, poignantly. It was untutored, utterly without sophistication, but the melody tugged at the heart. Some workman from the nearby construction site, surely. We exchanged smiles, my question unasked and your reply unnecessary. What did it matter what raga it was?
A car sped by. I frowned. You must have sensed that frown because we were sitting in the dark. I felt rebuked by your silent reproof. Well, I suppose people did have to get from place to place.
There was no need for conversation. I thought your thoughts, and you could read mine, always. A glance and a smile, a squeeze of fingers or a nudge spoke for us. That distant sound of drums and cacophony, we shrugged at another procession to immerse another idol; that mournful hoot of a goods train before its wheels beat a rhythm on the tracks that lingered a long while after the train passed, we sighed in unison. So many memories attached to the sound of trains.
I went to fetch another drink, negotiating the furniture easily in the dark. I sighed as I sat down. You looked disapproving. I was sighing in contentment, mostly, in gratitude for all the perfect evenings that went before. One more evening... You nodded.
Something brought the fireflies out. I watched in surprise. I always liked fireflies and all that they evoked. Some flitted close enough to try and grab. I didn’t, of course. You wouldn’t have liked that.
It was getting late. A distant dog barked in impotent fury at some slight. I got up regretfully. I folded and put away the chairs, dragged the table to a safe corner so it wouldn’t get rained on. I murmured a good night to you. Another evening gone by.
I went to eat my solitary dinner.