The lovely little city of Thiruvananthapuram is used to rains. On that fateful Thursday morning in late October, the city saw a downpour, catching everyone by surprise. As a commuter in a crowded KSRTC bus, the rains caught me by surprise too – I was not prepared for it.
I had embarked on an important bus journey, that morning. I boarded a bus from the Sreekariyam bus stop, and was supposed to get down near the LMS compound to walk to the museum bus stop and take another bus to Kowdiar. I would then need to walk for fifteen minutes inside Jawahar Nagar.
My destination? The place I used to call my office until two weeks back
The purpose of my journey? To collect my last paycheck. Two weeks back, I was fired from work over email.
At that point in time, I was in a very interesting situation, and it might have even been a bit comical.
One fine day before leaving for work, I tried logging into my work email to check something work-related, but was unable to access it – a very odd error was being shown to me, and I could not make head or tail out of it. I could swear that my password was correct though. Confused, I called my boss to find out what was going on, but he would not pick my calls despite multiple attempts. My overthinking mind caught that red flag siren that was blaring loud in my mind. I decided to let it pass for the time being, and continued getting ready for work. In a few minutes’ time, my colleague from work called me and asked me to check my email, mentioning that there is an important email that I needed to read before turning up to work that away. I mentioned to him that I don’t have access to my work email any more and that I had tried reaching out to my boss for clarification. He replied with a matter-of-fact tone, and shared that he will get back to me. He calls me up in a few minutes, and asks me to try again. This time, my email login works, and I open the latest unread email from my boss. Now, my boss is quite the wordsmith.
In a few eloquent words, he has shared with me that I have been fired for underperformance.
The remaining two weeks went by in a blur. I noticed that at least two of my former colleagues had unfriended or blocked me in Facebook. A couple of days back, my boss messaged me in Facebook, curtly asking me to stop by the office to pick up my last paycheck. I had only worked at the company for two months, and was yet to receive a single pie as my payment – I was told that I will get two months’ salary together in October, this was before I got fired, of course. Now the pay itself was abysmal, but I desperately needed it. I just had a ten rupee note let in my purse, and my bank account was practically empty. On that fateful Thursday morning, I gave that lone ten rupee note to the curt bus conductor in exchange for a bus ticket from Sreekariyam to LMS Compound, along with four rupees balance.
That morning, I gambled with that ten rupee note to get myself into that packed bus in hopes that I would get paid what I was owed, allowing me to settle some debts, and giving me some much-needed financial support to meet my needs. However, I never expected the rains – I did not carry an umbrella, and did not have the money to pay for an autorickshaw or a taxi. As I watched countless rain drops shower on the bus, which trudged slowly through increasing traffic to take me to my destination, my heart sunk at the prospect of getting drenched.
There was another reason behind my bad mood. I had turned 22 that fateful morning. I was out of a job. I did not have a college degree, yet. I was broke. And I was the object of ridicule in my family. Now on top of that, I was going to get drenched in a thunderstorm – which might lead me to the choicest of rainborne diseases or even a vicious bout of flu. I might even get my purse (which contained my driving license and debit card) damaged, leading to a slew of problems. My phone – a Samsung Star, was a precious possession, a throwback to the days when my bank account balance was in five digits –– was not waterproof, and losing it would be nothing short of a disaster.
I have always enjoyed the rain, a true pluviophile; but that morning, I saw myself metamorphose into a pluviophobic.
As the bus neared my destination, my phone rang. It was a call from a friend, one of the few good folks that I treasured. I heard a chirpy “Happy birthday” greeting at the other end, which somehow lighted me up. I expressed my gratitude to them. My friend seemed to be in a mood to listen, and I rambled on to them about my predicament. They listened intently, and once I shut my mouth – they made a very interesting comment – “But hey, it is your birthday, and the world is celebrating it with a thunderstorm, how cool is that!”. Now this friend is notorious for their PJs (let’s be honest, so am I) – I guffawed out loud at that suggestion, frightening my fellow-passengers in the bus!
I had reached my destination, and alighted from my bus into the full force of the rains, quickly ending the call with my friend (who did not forget to wish me happy birthday once again in the same chirpy voice). Ducking my phone and purse into one of the safe (and hopefully dry) alcoves of my bag, I sprinted to the waiting shed at the Museum bus stop from where I could board the next bus to Kowdiar. By now, I was slightly wet, even though the sprint had prevented me from getting drenched head to toe.
Meanwhile, I thought about what my friend said. October rains in Trivandrum are uncommon, isn’t it cool that it rained on my birthday? Wallowing in my fate, I almost forgot that I was a pluviophile – rains on your birthday sound super-cool! The Kowdiar bus arrived, interrupting my stray thoughts, and I boarded it without much ado. I was pleasantly surprised when I found a window seat in that bus, an uncommon occurrence in that crowded route. I sat by the window, watching the rain, embracing my pluviophile self once again as I got back to my thoughts. My friend was probably right. Besides, today was the day, I’m getting paid too – so, this is definitely a good omen.
The rain had only grown in strength as I got down at Kowdiar. I had spent the four rupees I had left on the bus, and was officially penniless. I would have to wait in the bus stop until the rains subsided, so that I could walk to my office. But by that point, a wind of hope had shifted the cloud of pain in my mind. The rains, the payday, all of it sounded like a new beginning. And to top it, that fateful day was my birthday. Before I knew it, I set off from the safe shelter of the waiting shed and embraced the raindrops around me, as I walked – nay, sprinted to my office. I walked, and ran for almost 600 metres in that rain, enjoying every raindrop that engulfed me. The pain was still fresh in my heart, but the raindrops seem to wash all that day. I felt a gush of joy within me as I drenched myself in the rain, submitting my mind and soul to it.
It was my 22nd birthday, and here I was – celebrating by virtually dancing in the rain! How cool is that?
I stepped into my old office, every part of my body drenched. The rest of the day was uneventful, it might also have been one of the worst days in my life – the cold stares and attitudes of my former coworkers, my boss giving me a ‘bag of chips’ to celebrate my birthday, having to wait for several hours to collect the paycheck, which was literally half of the meagre salary that I was promised. I will not lie, that day broke me. But the rains that morning, the wish from my friend, and my happy dance in the rain, balanced it all out. Even as I trudged back home and flopped on to my bedroom, full of disappointment, anger, and dejection, I could not hide a smile from the fond memory of the rains.
In many ways, the pain, angst, disappointment, and loneliness I felt that day led me to where I am today. And the rains were definitely a catalyst, a silver lining amongst the clouds, pun intended.
And, I am still a die-hard pluviophile. 🙂
This is a true story with any exaggeration/change being the result of a faded memory. For reference, check out some old blog posts. 🙂