September afternoon, Suman, my room mate, warns me not to walk down the street, to buy the grocery on this dark, cloudy day, and I look at him confused, “Heavy rains”, he says, “Beware! Not a bright idea! There is a signal of typhoon number eight.”
“Do you know that my fridge is starving? There is only a warning, I could finish my work and stock my fridge before the typhoon paralyses my daily routine.” I protest as I shut the door behind me, walking away from his non-stop mumblings.
I elbow my way through the narrow exit into the deserted street. Over the edge of a road, rows of trees stand erect, with their crown whipped roughly by angry winds that accelerate its speed.
The fierce, blowing breeze kneads my silky skirt, exposing my bare skin shamelessly.
Roads, like a war zones, rattle with crashing sounds as bill boards and street lights come tumbling down.
Nervously, I fumble with my umbrella, trying to shield from rain as dust mingle with flying debris. Wind is violent and I walk only a few meters. I see two men in their long overcoat and hat, with their hand shielding their face, walk swiftly, taking long steps and cross over to the other side of the road. Fear walks all over me and I wonder. Am I crazy to walk into this deserted street? There is not a soul on the road.
I regret not having stayed at home. Should I go back and face this ‘I-told-you-so look’ or should I go to supermarket and finish my shopping. The bus stop on my right, its stiff pole, balances its firm roots to the ground, shaking only at its top half, and the billboard on its roof vibrate as the drops of rain smash against its green, shiny surface, blinding its script.
I am reminded of the warning of typhoon number eight! I shudder as a thought occurs to me about its outcome. The two previous typhoons, which landed in South China few years ago had killed more than 600 and brought huge economic losses. The local governments had warned people to watch out for flood and landslide. They had drafted plans to call back fishermen on the sea, checked and protected reservoirs, monitored natural disasters like floods and landslide, and arranged evacuation of people in dangerous areas to safe places. Schools were closed, flights were grounded and the city was paralyzed for many days.
I walk through the winds, between the sheets of metal and the branches of trees that are scattered on the streets, my umbrella blows sideways, turning me swiftly. I decide to return home. A game of scrabble with Suman and a cup of hot coffee is a better choice on this fierce rainy day. I retrace my steps through the cobbled-stone ground, walking carefully, taking smaller steps and avoiding the pot-holed puddle on the street. I am afraid of falling and with greater resistance, I endure the force of the winds, planting my feet firmly on the ground, as I retreat to walk back home.
‘Okay baby, no mood to buy the groceries, we will have to make do with mashed potatoes and boiled eggs.” I say.
I see a smile, lopsided, hardly there, but there. He looks at me with a scorpion eye, staring at the mutilated umbrella in my right hand.
I am surprised too. What the hell! Why is his hair dripping droplets down his wet face? Why is he drenched in clinging clothes? Did he go out in rain too? Did he follow me?
I see then, behind him the angry rain come boisterously through the open window uninvited.
“Why is this window open? Don’t you know that some skyscrapers had their windows blown out sending shards of glass on to people below?” I say as I go towards the window to shut it close.
As I walk in, my body is lunged forward, taking me off guard as my feet slide, far apart in opposite directions through the slippery floor and I am down on my buttocks in an aerobic pose into the puddle of rain water, scattered randomly into my drawing room.
Through his dark eye lashes and crinkled smirk, I see his anxiety reflected. I know it then, that he, too, had peeped out, craning his neck out through an open window, oblivious of the fury of rain, stretching his body, bending at the mid-torso at ninety degrees, desperately throwing a glimpse at the street below, wondering, whether I was safe
And through my whimpering and tears, I see him bend down, on his knees, closer to me as he starts to laugh loudly, very loudly, diluting the sounds of thunder of angry rains.