Twinkle was standing near the gas stove. The slender Aubergines simmered with spices on the gentle blue gas flame. Just then, a wisp of air blew in through the side window, and the gas flame hissed back.
Twinkle hurried to close the window. The wind is speeding up. She noticed, as another one brazed past her nose. From her flat at the tenth floor, she spotted dark funnel of clouds hovering against the horizon; eerily, like an angry devil approaching.
In no time, the winds progressed into a storm bringing with them a torrent of dust swirling around and splashing on everything that came its way… It grew almost dark. As all the windows and doors rattled, quickly she secured them all up, and then raced to the balcony to collect the clothes left for drying.
A few makeshift huts of mud and tattered sacs held together with coir ropes had come up across the road. She noticed how the black Tarpaulin flared up like a balloon, its four ends held down with cement bricks. In one of those huts lived her maid, Moni.
Would Moni be home by now? Twinkle wondered. After cooking dinner at several places, she reaches home late. She reminded herself. It was getting darker, and anytime the bricks would be flown away by the swelling Tarpaulin sheet exposing the tattered roof to the fury of elements.
Just as she worried, she saw Moni’s little daughter run out of the hut and take shelter under the tree nearby. She was crying, probably afraid to be inside all by herself in the storm.
So, Moni is not home yet. The doubt now got cleared upon Twinkle.
Whoooosh… whoooooosh…. The winds howled. Her own home was a scene of dust covered mess.
She called up Moni.
“Hello Moni, where are you?”
A surprised Moni answered back. “Why madam, I’m making phulkas in Neetu madam’s house.”
“It’s a dark stormy night. You must reach your home. I saw your roof almost getting blown off.” Twinkle on purpose didn’t mention her daughter to prevent her from getting desperate and nervous.
There was a silence from Moni.
“I will talk to Neetu. Give the phone to her.” demanded Twinkle.
“Hello Neetu, let Moni leave immediately. Her daughter is afraid, and I saw her running under the tree. If that tree gets felled in this storm, I won’t be able to forgive myself.”
“What? Oh! Thanks, Twinkle, for sharing this with me. How will she spend the night? Can we ask our manager to open the guest rooms for today, so that they can pass this night in safety?”
Twinkle was so happy and jumped up at the idea.
It was a dark stormy night, that suffered torrential rain and the booms of thunder. The electricity too was cut off. But Twinkle, Neetu and their families slept peacefully under warm blankets safe under the thought that their fellows, living opposite them are also snug and warm.
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