Varsha (Monsoon) 2021 Stories - Rrashima Swaarup Verma


A Table For Two
By Rrashima Swaarup Verma


Nikita stared up at the sky and sighed. Not a cloud in sight. ‘So the weather gurus were correct after all! It’s going to be another stiflingly hot day without a drop of respite. And on top of that, this diet!’ Shaking her head, she strode in from the garden and turned on the vacuum cleaner.

It whirred into action at once. Nikita slipped a piece of chewing gum into her mouth and then busied herself with her task. Despite living in such a tony, leafy neighbourhood, it was amazing how much dust could get accumulated in hidden nooks and crannies in a matter of days. ‘But then it is Delhi after all,’ she said to herself, chewing vigorously on the gum. It was a tip she’d picked up from the newspaper and she’d found that it actually worked. Other than curbing her usually healthy appetite, the gum also prevented her from snacking in between meals.

Later, after her shower, she slipped on a comfortable T-shirt and a pair of jeans that had always been a wee tight around her waist but now fit nicely. ‘I do seem to have lost quite a lot of weight.’ Narrowing her eyes, she scrutinized herself in the mirror. Yes, the diet was definitely working.


‘But it’s no wonder, is it?’ Nikita shrugged. ‘After all, it’s been steamed chicken, steamed veggies, day in, day out. And not a drop of rain either! Oh, what wouldn’t I give for the sound of falling rain and a plateful of hot potato fritters!’

But as predicted, it didn’t rain all day and the sky remained as parched as it had been in the morning. In the late afternoon, Nikita did think she heard a low rumbling from somewhere and she rushed to her bedroom window, almost tripping over the old rocking chair in anticipation. But it was just a construction excavator on the opposite side of the road that had made the noise. Disappointed, she turned away from the window.

She was in the kitchen when she heard the sound of the key being turned. The main door was pushed open noisily and the clatter of boots broke the quiet in the otherwise calm house. ‘So he’s home early today for a wonder.’ Nikita peeked her head out of the kitchen.

She could see him moving around in the living room, the mobile phone in his hand as usual. ‘That darn mobile.’ She pursued her lips. ‘He should have married it instead of me. It’s hardly surprising that he hasn’t even noticed all the weight I’ve lost. Nor the fact that we haven’t gone out in ages, just the two of us. I can’t remember the last time we booked a table for two.’ Mumbling to herself, she put the kettle on to boil.

Ten minutes later, she walked into the living room, carrying the tea tray in her hands. The first thing she noticed was that the two wicker chairs and matching table were missing from their usual place in the room. There was a patch of grime on the floor where the furniture had been and Nikita had a sudden urge to pull the vacuum out again.

Ignoring it for the moment, she looked around for her husband. Vikram was nowhere to be seen. Then she heard a movement from the garden. What in the world was he doing out there on a sweltering day like this? Setting the tray down on the dining table, she walked briskly toward the garden. ‘
Vikram? Are you there? Vik….’

Suddenly, she stopped. She had smelt it even before she’d heard it. It was unmistakable. The sweetest fragrance in the world. Raindrops falling, permeating, moistening, quenching the dry, parched earth.

There was a sudden low rumbling from above and with a look of awe, she wondered out loud.

‘How could I have mistaken the majestic sound of thunder for that awful excavator earlier!’Laughing like a little girl, she ran toward her husband.

The rain was really pouring down by then but Nikita didn’t mind a bit. In fact, she wanted to savour every drop. Tilting her head toward the sky, she bounded across the wet grass in her bare feet. Even as she reached the spot where he stood waiting for her, she stopped and gasped. ‘Oh God! What did you do?’
It was the covered portion of the garden, shielded with a green tarpaulin sheet. The wicker chairs and table had been arranged in a neat semi-circle under the tarpaulin. Her favourite tea service was on the table, complete with napkins and quarter plates. A stack of crisp potato fritters sat waiting on a plate and the teapot was letting out a vapour of steam in the cool air.

‘It’s everything I had wished for!’ Nikita looked at her husband in wonder. ‘How did you know?’

‘Well, we have been married for twenty years dear.’ He smiled at her. ‘Besides, I thought a celebration was in order since you did manage to lose a lot of weight with that steamed chicken diet.’

‘You!’ She smacked him playfully on the arm. ‘So you do notice after all!’

Laughing, he pulled her into his arms. ‘More than you know. Oh look!’

He pointed toward the sky and Nikita’s eyes widened instantly.

She had never seen such a vivid, gleaming, shimmering palette of colours before. ‘It’s beautiful,’ she whispered, staring at the sparkling rainbow. ‘Like a dream in fact.’ With shining eyes, she turned to her husband and took both his hands in hers.

The falling rain drops made a musical sound as the pair danced and skipped around the little garden. It was only when a magpie suddenly flew down to the ground and began to eye the plate of fritters knowingly that Vikram stopped and laughed. ‘I think it’s time for a cup of tea. Come on dear!’

Hand in hand, they walked over to the little table set for two.


Rrashima Swaarup Verma from India is a business research professional with over 20 years of experience in the corporate world. Rrashima is also a prolific writer, poet and columnist and her work is regularly published in leading national and international literary magazines and publications.


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