I was walking down the alleyway. The night was dark and cloudy, and the moon that night was too shy to reveal itself. The crickets were singing in their regular monotonous tone, and the blinking fireflies hardly provided any light. I was simply kicking at the stones in my path. It was almost midnight.
It was then when suddenly a girl walked up to me. Her features were hidden in the darkness, but her apple green eyes looked up to me curiously. And I had just begun to get accustomed to her presence, when she parted her lips and with a sweet voice asked me, “How far is the taxi stand from here?”
“It’s already midnight and I don’t suppose you will get a taxi now”, I replied.
She now spoke more low. But there was a tinge of expectation in her voice. She said, “Then can you, please, show me the way to the nearest hotel, where I can pass the night.”
“Yeah, sure. Just walk up the rod straight and go to your right at the next turn, and at the next bend, take the left turn, and at the bend after that walk to your right, and then continue straight until the next turn, where you will have to take the right turn.”
She smiled and said, “By God! That will be a hard way to hit.”
“If you want I can walk you to the hotel, it is on my way home”, I said, half expecting that she would take the offer.
“It will be very kind of you”, she replied.
We started walking. As we walked on, the street lights lighted up the way. Now, I could see her clearly. She had jet black hair, thin eyebrows, a sharp nose, and rosy pink lips. She was short but that did not make her any less beautiful. I was very eager to talk to her, but my introvert character somewhat prevented me from starting the conversation.
I presume she was of a very jovial nature and so, she began the conversation.
“I am Richa. What’s your name?”
“I am Anshul. Can I ask you something?”
“Yeah, why not?”
“What are you doing out here so late?”
“I had gone to Ranchi for some official work. My cab suddenly broke down and so I was left here all alone. This place is completely unknown to me.”
The wind was blowing hard against my face and my hair waved in it. I observed that she was wearing a sleeveless, long frock.
“Are you feeling the cold?” I asked.
“Yeah, a bit. The wind is really cold here.”
I opened my jacket and put it over her. She was a bit hesitant but did not resist. “That’s so sweet of you. Thanks.”
A leaf dropped from a tree above just on her head. I informed her, “There’s a leaf on your head.”
She dusted her hair but it did not go. So, I brushed her hair with my fingers, removing the leaf.
“That felt so good. Can you do that once more?”
I smiled and did the same once again.
An owl was sitting on the branch of a tree and hooting.
“Oh, look there that’s an owl. I have never seen one before.” She giggled and her face became bright in glee.
“You know though you have grown an adult in your bones, you are still a child from within”, I commented.
“Er, should I take it as a compliment or a mockery of me.”
“Whatever you like. But I presume however you take it you will not be offended.”
“No, you are very sweet, and it’s hard to get offended with you.”
Suddenly there was a thunder and the sky almost seemed to fall over our heads.
Richa held me tightly with her eyes closed and gave out a shrieking sound.
I laughed out loud.
“That’s very mean of you. I am afraid and you are laughing”, she said.
“Oh, sorry. I did not mean to. But you shrieked and held on to me as if some monster had attacked you.”
She laughed and I too laughed with her. But In the meantime I noticed that she had a very pretty smile.
The thunder continued and she walked on fearfully. I held her hand tightly in mine. She looked up to me.
“This will make you less afraid”, I expressed my concern.
She smiled and moved her thumb over the back of my hand. I could feel her soft skin.
She rested her head over my shoulder and exclaimed, “I am feeling sleepy. How far is the hotel?”
“It’s just round the corner. We would take only a minute or two.”
We walked on and reached the hotel. She went in and urged me to come with her. She checked in, took her room’s key from the reception, and then gave me I tight hug. I was definitely not ready for something like this.
“You are a very good man. I don’t know you much but you helped me and I will never forget it. Bye.” She said.
“Bye. If God wants then we will meet again.”
“I will be looking forward to that.”
We waved each other goodbye and walked on.
I looked at my watch. It was 12:35 pm. I did not know where her home was or what work she did. I was unaware of her family background, and her financial status. I did not know which religion or caste she belonged to. She was neither the most beautiful girl nor the most witty girl, I had ever seen. But what I knew was that she was a child from within, who beckoned to me to come closer. And I realized that I had helplessly fallen in love with her. A half an hour long walk had taken the form of love which would always burn bright in my heart.
Five years have passed and I have never again met her. I still love her and I do not even know whether she feels the same about me or not.