“Get up. Hey.”
I wake up startled. “Reached so quick?”
“We need to get out. Some fallen trees have blocked the road completely. I took a shortcut , had no idea about this. ”
It is dark now. It hasn’t stopped raining since the morning.
“We can’t get past these.” He says coming out from behind the trees. “Lets walk. The town isn’t far. ”
I follow his command.“What a tiring day and now I have to walk four kilometers to find a bed to sleep. Not fair.” I lament, pissed.
“You know my last posting was in Siachin. We had to walk eight kilometers to get to the ceasefire line from our base camp carrying 15 kgs of load on our back in negative temperatures.”
“Alright tough guy. No need to brag. Having stood all day, I just want to lie down.”
Suddenly the rain grows fierce. We see an old saw mill nearby. “Let’s hide there.” And he takes me by my hand inside the only room which isn’t locked. Logs of wood and wood shavings are strewn under our feet. Water is seeping through the roof. I have already started sneezing. “Be careful. Here come in the corner. No rain here.” Woods creak below as I move. I stand in the corner of that empty room full of stench of wet woodfacing him. My sneezing keeps getting worse. Only sounds of crickets and rain drops falling can be heard. My heart sinks.
“We are trapped here till morning if this rain doesn’t stop. Who told you to take that shortcut? Always trying to be smart. Do you know this area is notorious for robbers.”“Don’t worry. I am here with you.” “So? Do u think you are Gladiator, Brave heart and Rambo rolled into one ! They’ll cut off my finger first and then take out my ring.” I immediately regret my words .He pulls up my left hand. “Are you…?” He doesn’t complete the sentence but I cannot escape the answer his eyes demand. “Are you… ?” .“Engaged” .I complete his sentence. “He is a fellow OT from Bengal”, I say finally gathering confidence.
“Congrats.” And he jerks off my hand but his stare is still fixed on my face. “Thank you.” I reply in the same cold style.
We resume our walk. Nothing is said further between us. Finally we reach the Cantt at midnight . We are at the door.
“Do you hate me?”He asks from the back.
“No.” I reply in a low voice without turning, trying to open the lock.
“Because I wasn’t the only one who was hurt amongst us. Good night.”
I get in and shut my door.