Stranger

The relentless downpour continued to pound the city for the third consecutive day. Normal life was thrown out of gear. However, none of this seemed to matter to Geeta as she watched the rain from the terrace of their three-storeyed apartment, lost in the rhythmic beating of the rain, drenched from head to toe. Monsoon was her favorite season since childhood. It still was.

“Daddy, I want Mummy…” a child’s loud cry from below brought her out of her trance. She leaned forward to see who it was. A little girl wearing a pink raincoat was wailing piteously, asking for her mother. Her father was anxiously talking to people who had gathered near the gate hearing the commotion. He seemed worried and helpless. Geeta couldn’t recall seeing them before. They were probably new there. Geeta’s heart went out to the girl.

 ‘Poor child!’ 

She wanted to comfort her. As she was about to leave the terrace, she saw an elderly lady scoop the child up and take her inside. Geeta decided against going down as the child was taken care of now.

She sat there for a long time watching the mesmerizing rain. Water had entered the scattering of houses, mostly small shanties, in the neighborhood. People were moving their belongings and trying to move to safer ground. Water was fast filling up in their own compound by now. She wondered where the man was. 

Poor guy! I hope his wife is safe.’

Over the rumble of the rain, she heard the rusty door of the terrace creak open and the same man stood there.

Seeing her, his face was awash with relief. ‘Geeta!  Thank God, you are here. The whole city is flooded, I was so worried! He held her hand and led her towards the door. 

Geeta struggled to free herself from his grip. ‘Hello, is it me you are looking for?’ she asked, baffled, unable to make sense of what was happening. 

‘Come, Geeta, Anu is inconsolable. I’ll tell you everything later, please come,’ he gently coaxed her and led her away.

***

That night Punit tucked Geeta in bed and lovingly kissed her forehead.  His love for her was still strong-in spite of the cruel Alzheimer’s that made him a stranger to her. 

Living with a spouse with a disease that was only getting worse with each passing day wasn’t easy at all. Caring for her and their child since her diagnosis two years ago was extremely demanding, even depressing at times. What happened today had happened so many times before. It was taking a toll on him and Anu.

At times, Punit wanted to give up and end everything -for her, for him and for Anu whom Geeta didn’t even recognize these days.

As he got up to leave the room, Geeta held his hand and smiled in her sleep. Punit felt a tug at his heart. Rare moments like these made him go on. He had to remain strong for her, for their child. 

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Shailaja Pai

Shailaja Pai is a stay-at-home mom with a newfound passion for writing. She loves writing fiction on women's issues and social issues. She has authored a few blogs on other platforms and won many of their 100-word story contests.
Shailaja Pai

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