They were in the undulating hills of Munnar. There was green all around; a treat for those confined in concrete jungles. As the sun set behind the mist and mountains, darkness gently descended over Paradise on Earth.
Shruthi and Deepak sat in silence. It was Deepak’s idea to unwind over the weekend. But both knew the real reason: It was yet another attempt to mend the strains that had emerged. Incredible though it seemed, they had nothing to say except for idle comments on the scenery or the weather.
They watched the bonfire until the embers died down and then made their way back to their room through the lantern-lit pathway that illuminated the enchanted surroundings.The air was heady with night queens blossoming among the bushes.It looked magical, but they were lost in their own world to notice the surreal beauty in their midst.
“Beautiful place…” said Deepak to no one in particular.
“Hmm. Good Night’” said Shruthi as she snuggled cozily in bed.
The next day they took a walk through the tea estate. Women worked in clusters, trimming the shrubs and cutting the leaves. The air had a whiff of tea wafting from the nearby refinery and the murmur of chatting workers echoed through the hills.
Deepak glanced at Shruthi, as she listlessly walked on. Where was the sparkle in her eye, the witty chatter and the spirit in her life that had captivated him? He wondered. Then, he realized that neither was he the solid rock of support for her anymore. With a twinge of guilt, he reminisced about the good old days, when he surprised her with gifts and flowers, when he was there for her as a shoulder to cry on, when their lives revolved around each other and nothing else…
“Roti curry or Rice rasam?” Shruthi asked him. They were in the resort restaurant.
He woke up from his reverie. “Uh, Anything…I’ll have whatever you’re having.” he said.
Shruthi arched her eyebrows but said nothing.
“Shruthi, there’s a Lake nearby with boating facility. Shall we go?” he asked tentatively as they progressed to the dessert.
She nodded affirmatively and returned to scrutinizing the table.
The car swerved gently as they ascended downhill, towards the town. The sky was overcast and grey. Shruthi sat humming to the Bollywood songs on the stereo. ‘Barso Re’ sang Shreya Ghoshal as big drops of water splashed on the windscreen. The air was now chilly and the wind howled through the hills.
Shruthi was enthralled. “Let’s get out!” she said excitedly to Deepak.
Deepak smiled. He saw traces of the old Shruthi surface from the depths of Time. He quickly stopped the car and they got out to soak in the drizzle.
They stood there for a long time. As they got drenched in the rain, remorse and regret over the past washed over them and then was replaced by a new zeal and zest.
Deepak placed a protective hand over Shruthi as they walked towards a bench, which seemed to be there just for them. She didn’t shirk away this time; she knew this was a transformation. Deepak too, was elated. He had forgotten how beautiful Shruthi was; her face shone with radiance and pure joy of rain and romance.
They sat observing the scenery. They had nothing to say, the eyes said it all. Somewhere a bird chirped blithely. The trees glistened with raindrops hanging from the leaves like glittery diamonds. The hills looked greener and somewhat fresher after the shower. And they unconsciously added to the beauty of God’s creation, as they embraced.