The city lay spread in front of him, or rather, a part of the city. Ryan devoured this view from his 13th floor patio in the night. The city lights filled him with an urge to succeed in this city where he had come four years ago, fresh out of B-school with hopes to work up to the top of one of the corporate conglomerates whose case studies he analysed during his internships. Another train passed by in the distant to his left; he glanced at his watch, 1:35 in the morning, the train with its distinctive sound on the tracks was carrying men working late shifts downtown to their homes in the suburbs. He loved the sound of the train, it was music to his ears that characterized this city to him; perhaps that was the only constant characteristic of this ever changing metropolis.
His cigarette went out, he had barely taken two puffs from his 5th straight one. Ryan smoked when he was uneasy, and today he had the reason to be. He picked out the carton from his pocket but found it empty; this did not have to happen now he thought, should’ve got another pack before leaving from work. He turned his head towards his right, looking at the shimmering Arabian Sea, which today seemed calm. The calm before the storm, he metaphorically compared, the storm that was going to engulf his personal and professional life soon. What exactly was emptying him from inside, he couldn’t figure out. Was it his lack of focus at work or was it his tumbling relationship with Tia who was sleeping, or rather pretending to be asleep in the bedroom since he came back from work. Or was the former the cause of latter? He was not sure, he couldn’t think straight at that moment. A break from the mundane was what he needed. He could probably go up North to the hills for that. A week at his favorite hill station to ponder over the turns his life was taking might be exactly what he needed.
He remembered the day he first met Tia three years ago, set up by mutual friends while on a vacation to the Portuguese territory of the bygone era. Soon they moved in together and everything was going smooth, until now, when they decided to take their relationship a notch further. Why does the kin have to come to the picture and be concerned about the material possessions he had. Shouldn’t it be about two people who’re mature enough to take their life’s decisions themselves? But then this is India, he muttered; are we as a society leaving the shackles of orthodoxy behind as it appears to be, or is it just a mirage? And the fact that Tia couldn’t stand by him on this matter made him even furious at her. Now he was in a tough spot. He had to be rational, if he went ahead with it, there could be further complications in the future as the kin was involved. He had heard the stories about the egregious lawsuits that men like him can be tangled in. Agree his life was not hunky dory but he was enjoying it. All that he had today was acquired through his own hard work and commitment. He was a self made man and wanted to remain so.
It was getting heavy on him, he needed some fresh air, probably a drive, and what better place to go for a drive than Marine Drive in this overcrowded city. The only place where one could have a smooth ride before the sea link came up. He loosened his tie, picked up the car keys and headed out of the door…
Twenty minutes and he reached Marine Drive, that was nothing short of a record. The red light on the top of building occupied by the government’s ailing air carrier was blinking as he approached it. This was his usual route, heading up to the NCPA and turning back from there, sometimes going up to the Malabar Hill. That was the place where he dreamt of living in his apartment one day. The day he could afford the rents, the day he would pay up his B-School debts. On his drive up the hill, he stopped his car, stepped out and came towards the promenade facing the sea. It was about to be dawn. The sky to his left was beginning to light up. He could hear the chirping of the birds. The waves from the sea splashed over the quadra-edged boulders. The sea on this part of the town was not that calm, it was gushing with energy. He sat down on the promenade. In the distant the fishermen were out for their day’s first catch, the lights in the buildings to his right on the hills were going off. Suddenly a wave splashed the saline water over his face, that was a strong one. It also bought along with it some marine creatures on the boulders. The fish grasping for air, bouncing on the concrete rocks. A crow came out of nowhere and tried to grab the big one by his beak. It failed as the fish was too hard for him to handle, the moment he went near it, it would struggle even harder and draw the crow away. Then another wave came and it took the fish back with it in the sea. The crow stepped away and waited on one of the boulders for the next wave, another fish. And soon that happened, another wave, another splash on Ryan’s clothes, some more fish on the boulder which were luckily small enough for the crow for its breakfast. This time it didn’t miss the opportunity and caught one before the sea took its creatures back with it.
That was it, it struck him right there! He had to move on! He couldn’t go on like this against his principles. No wonder it would be hard on him to get over the past 3 years, but then did it all matter when the person who made those years memorable was not by his side? Was Tia so encumbered by her family’s expectations that she stopped being rational? Probably she was not the right person then. This was a bad relationship and it would be better to forget about it than going against his own principles just because of some irrational expectations the society had of him.
It was relieving, Ryan had a smile on his face. He stood up facing the sea and shouted to his full capacity. It was therapeutic, it let it all go, the anger, the burden he had over his shoulders for months now. He moved towards his car nodding and smiling at the perplexed old Parsi couple out for their stroll. He started his car and sped past the remaining stretch of the Marine Drive, took off his tie and let it fly with the wind outside the window. Not often he felt so calm and exuberant at the same time. That night was made for him.
It didn’t take Ryan much time to reach back home that Saturday morning, one of those days when the city started a bit late. He opened the door of his apartment and went straight to the bedroom. Tia was still asleep, he took out his backpack and quickly filled it up with his essentials for a week that he would require in the hills in the chilling month of December. After dropping a mail at work informing them for his absence for the coming week on account of a certain emergency, he turned off all his networking devices and headed straight for the airport. And as for Tia was concerned, he would deal with her after he was back. The storm had come without even being noticed, and it went away with the slamming shut of the door of the apartment.