While Vipin had been invited to a house party for New Year’s Eve, Ranjit spent it with relatives. He tried protesting, but his mother was too persuasive, and his father too domineering. Playing Antakshari with family until the clock struck 12 wasn’t his idea of spending the last day of the year. But his sister tried lifting his spirits, and his uncle pitched in with a few pitchers of local ale, inserting spirits into him. In time, Ranjit forgot his sullen mood and most everything else.
It was the last auspicious day of the wedding season, and the first day Ranjit wore his new suit. One of his friends was getting married, which gave him the opportunity he was waiting for. The garment was of a hue of grey more suited for old people, but his innocent face and clueless eyes conquered that minor obstacle. He had approved of what the mirror reflected, and so had Vipin, his roommate. But the moment he entered the traffic-laden areas of outer-Delhi, his mood soured.
The alarm clock jolted Ranjit out of sleep. He smacked the ringer and grunted, fuming at his failure to switch it off for Sunday morning. After turning in his bed for a few minutes, he gave up. He picked his pack of cigarettes and walked to the balcony, muttering curses at the alarm clock all the while.
Ranjit was driving home on his Bajaj motorcycle. It had been a long day repairing computers in south-west Delhi. It wasn’t his job anymore to go fix faulty machines, but their chief repair person had gone to his village, leaving Ranjit as the only one capable enough for the job.
Vikram is finally able to write something with his hands. He is worried about its quality and appeal more than he has ever been in his career as a writer. His heart beats frantically, but it’s more so because of an emotion he has never experienced before.
When Vikram handed her the letter the day after she returned, he saw a look of disbelief on Malini’s face. He hadn’t said anything but just placed the letter in her hand. Her hands had felt the dotted impressions immediately, but her mind was taking its time believing it. She passed her hand over the sheet of paper and sat down without a word.
Vikram watched her both keenly and apprehensively as her fingers traced the characters slowly. Varsha joined them a minute later but froze when she saw the two of them. She knew what was happening before she saw her sister read something she had never read herself. She had seen it in his eyes.
Vikram and Malini get closer as the two spend more and more time together. Opening up to each other is much easier than talking out loud to themselves for the both of them. As they continue seeing each other on a daily basis, Vikram finds a way to overcome his writing handicap.
Vikram spent his evenings at Malini’s for the next month. He would go there when she was done giving lessons. He would then read to the sisters. They always sat in the living room or on the patio if the weather was pleasant. The house had two rooms but Vikram had only ever seen the living room. It was rather large and had a set of small mattresses lined in one corner where Malini gave her lessons. A sofa set and coffee table occupied the main area, and the rest was empty space. The lack of furniture didn’t look like the result of poor interior planning. It separated the dining table from the sofa set.
After the first few days, he started spending time with Malini once he was done reading to them. Varsha hadn’t objected to it, but there was a hesitance in Malini’s manner whenever they were alone. They would often go out for a walk at night. Vikram noticed how Malini would always bring something up to talk about, careful not to let any silence creep between them. It helped them tell each other everything about themselves.
Vikram, the writer who cannot write, is entranced by his encounter with Malini, the blind woman with something special. He revisits his old habit of writing something for a woman, but things are different this time.
It had started raining a short while after Vikram got up the next morning. He had only had a couple of hours of sleep and his head felt heavy. The weather helped him deal with it better. He always found rain soothing.
It wasn’t a typical Mumbai downpour. The signs of rain had been there for a while, and the shower wasn’t thunderous. It was a welcome change for Vikram.