I watched the faint smile on her lips, her breath heaving and lowering her body gently as she slept beside me. Warmth radiated from her waist to where my arm encircled it and I could smell the faint sweetness in her hair.
It was just another usual night tonight, with her and our two beautiful kids – coming home from work, reading a bit of current affairs, her getting dinner while I got the monkeys. Dinner, homework check, tucking in and bedtime stories, then a couple glasses of red.
On the way to visit a client this afternoon, the classics station was crooning some good old love songs when a particularly familiar one began to play.
I remember that one. It was our song.
It must have been more than ten years ago. Still a restless buck on a wager with a couple of friends, who didn’t think I could make two hundred on my Ducati. Well, I did – then got a broken leg for a trophy and a couple of months off from work. Out of boredom, I started logging in to chatrooms to yak around with friends and new people.
On one of those nights, I met her.
Back then, it was still normal to converse openly in chatrooms; the first thing I saw when I got in that night was a heated discussion between her and some other fellas. Seeing she was outnumbered and ‘alone’, I backed her up.
“Hey hey fellas. Chillout, it’s just personal opinion. Stop attacking the girl.”
“Yeah? Who the f**k are u?! It aint even ur biz!”
“Sorry guys, this is public space. Be polite or f**k off yourself.”
After some pretty colourful exchanges, they decided to leave us alone.
“Yeah, I’m good. Those rogues… thanks for rescuing me :)”
“No prob 😉 Can’t stand by with all that happening.”
So we got talking. Her name was Eve and she was a student. Loved poetry and the rain, a sensitive soul. We were fours years apart in age and hit it off pretty well. We talked about her studies and my work, our past-times and pet peeves. When she found out the reason I was home-ridden, she gave me a good chiding that made me ashamed, yet warm inside, and strangely happy afterwards.
I looked forward to our nightly chats very much. In our private channel, we exchanged lines from our favourite poems, laughed at each other’s jokes, discussed current issues that affected us or not, and contemplated greater mysteries of life and death, love and pain. And of course, her favourite topic, rain – how it sounds, feels and tastes like, and all the colours of it.
Soon I was logging on just to see her. Just to hear her scribblings, to let them fill a void I never knew existed in my heart. Just to feel her presence seep through the blinking screen to fill my room. In the day, I moped around, waiting for nightfall, so I could meet with her. My friends ribbed and jeered at my new eccentricity, but I was numb to it all.
I was becoming obsessed with her personality, her very being, her laughter and tears. I was falling for the girl who loved the rain, who happily greeted me whenever I showed up, who pouted and sulked when I was late to arrive. It did not matter anymore that I had not met her, as how I always insisted with other girls I picked up online.
Late one night, I ravished her with my words and she reciprocated with an intensity that bared the truth. She gave me her number and asked me to call her. That night, I made that song ours and gave it to her.
Yet, that was all I could give, because I belonged to another. All you girls out there must think me a f**cking two-timing bastard. And I accept it. I simply did not have the courage to tell her for the fear of causing her pain. And you guys who have been in my shoes, you know that’s the truth.
So one night, I wrote her calmly that I was posted for work overseas and that we should stop this whole online chat thing because I would not have time for her anymore. If she knew the torture, to grit through it and lie through my teeth, to be an unfeeling sonofabitch when she frantically asked for me to call her, to properly say goodbye, to hear my voice for the first and last time. To know that she was upset, and yet remain slient. Yes, to finally break her heart at that.
I never contacted her, neither did I log on to the chatroom for a long time afterwards, though secretly I would follow the posts on her blog, just to wean off her presence slowly. And it was all gloomy and grey, filled with rain and poetry that was black as night.
When I got married few years later, I decided to leave it all behind, closing the door while it was still raining outside.
I opened my eyes and it was almost daybreak. A fine mist had formed outside the window and on closer scrutiny, I realised it had been raining the night before. I got up gently and walked softly towards the door, opened it and quietly went out to the front porch.
The rain was still falling and I could feel it on my face as it came down. Soft and gentle, I stretched out my palms to feel it brush past my fingers. It was cool and comforting, and that funny ache began throbbing in my chest again.
I turned around and saw her standing behind me, wrapped in her robes with her arms hugging her body. I smiled faintly and she came towards me.
“You didn’t sleep at all?”
“Yeah… just thinking of some stuff. Had to work something out. Up already?”
“Mm. I felt cold.”
“Let’s get back in and catch a bit more sleep before the kids get up.”
I took her hand in mine and turned my back towards the falling rain. I’m sorry, I said silently. That’s all I can say, right now. And here’s that song that brought me back:
The rain pours down
And I think of you;
Wondering if you
Feel it too.