She read and re-read the note for the umpteenth time.
“Midnight, on the bridge. Come alone.”
This note carries a very familiar fragrance. The fragrance of her youth, of the times bygone.
For the world, the words of this letter may seem to read like a ransom note. But for her, it was an order coming from a loved one. The right to command, which arises from deep love. A voice, she can never ignore.
As the time neared, she became more jittery. What if she falls asleep? If she misses the opportune, will he wait? Will he understand?
She could not take any chance. At eleven thirty, she was walking down the sleeping roads to reach her destiny. The sky was darkly foreboding. Sharp winds pierced through her bare skin. Attacks of lightning bursting on the streets, steadily making its way from one end of the town to the other. A momentary pause, and then, came explosions of thunder in great waves of demented sounds. After a few experimental drops, the clouds unleashed a torrent of water. But, nothing could deter her today.
As she reached the secluded bridge, rain was falling in crazy chaotic drops. The gusting wind was carrying them in wild vortices one moment and in diagonal sheets the next. The yellow umbrella, which he always mocked but, found cute anyway, was of little help against those random falls. Each stray droplet alighted on her skin. Not as cold as the November rain, but without the warmth of summer showers, the drops commanded her mind to the present, pulling her away from the pain of the past and the uncertainty of what was to come.
The river beneath the bridge was not her usual soft and wending self. The current was swift and strong. The vicious undertow can pull away from an expert swimmer also. Like it did that night. She shivered at the thought. A part of her mind tried to collude herself to leave this futile wage. But her heart, her obstinate heart. Who will make it understand the truth?
So she stood on the bridge, drenching in the outpour. Slowly the rain stopped, the clouds cleared and the stars shone as sugar sprinkled over black marble. The hours passed and the dark sky faded into the dawn’s light. He never came.
If only he would come once, she could explain that she never betrayed. That night she was indeed coming. But her uncles found out. They gagged and locked her up. And then killed him on the bridge before disposing of his body in the river. His only crime.
Belonging to a different religion. Since that day every year, she visits the bridge on the same date at midnight with the hope that one day he will return and take her with him to the land beyond the light, their happily ever after. But he never comes.
She took one last glance at the note dated a decade ago. Time to return, until next year.