Well, let me start with a confession. Part of me is highly influenced by Bollywood films. I adore all the cliches, be it old movies or new. Like millions fellow Indians, I like to try out things that I see on screen, whenever I can.
Till that day, Walking with a girl in rains carrying one small umbrella was one such unfulfilled dream.
I was very young when I watched the song "Pyar hua ikarar hua hai" featuring Raj Kapoor and Nargis. Reactions of people around me told me there was something special about that song. When was in my teens, I heard Gulzar's song "Mera Kucch Saman" my favourite lines were
Ek akeli chhatri me jab adhe adhe bhig rahe the
Adhe sukhe adhe gile sukha to mai le aayi thi
There were innumerable other songs which showed couples walking together in rains in an umbrella, looking at each other and then falling in love. I was quite intrigued by those scenes. In those days, I used to think that they fall in love and develop romantic interests because they walked in an umbrella. So I was all keen to try that out on a girl I liked in the class.
It was last lecture of the day. Not many students were there in the class but my crush was there. Therefore, I was there too. She was concentrating on the lecture, I was concentrating on her. She looked beautiful but she was not aware of it. A thunderstorm broke out when the lecture was about to get over. There was lightening, clouds roared loudly. All the essential ingredients of a romantic walk were coming together. I made sure I had my umbrella. I was also tempted to check if it was opening properly before offering it to her. I was also tempted to practice the tune of of pyar hua ikarar hua hai... on whistle to ensure it comes out well. But I would have attracted undue attention from the professor so decided against it. I was rehearsing my pick up lines to offer her the umbrella. I was quite excited that I would fulfil my childhood dream today, albeit a small one.
The lecture got over. She started leaving the class. I rushed forward with my umbrella beating anyone else who could probably indulge in a similar daydream.
‘Hi!’, I said
‘Hello, how are you?’ She was warm and friendly.
‘I am good. Thank you. It’s raining so hard. We can’t possibly go without an umbrella’, I started building my case without wasting any time.
‘Do you have one?’ I asked her.
‘No, I don’t.’
I could not believe my luck. When something has to work it just works, I thought to myself.
‘I have one. We can share it.’ I tried to sound as casual and friendly as possibly could.
She just smiled.
‘Is that a yes or a no?’, I said to myself, completely inept at decoding this non-verbal communication.
‘Shall we?’ I kept pushing the agenda, blatantly.
‘That’s a sweet offer but…’
I knew it was a no. Words didn’t matter.
She didn’t carry her umbrella because she was carrying her raincoat. She quickly wore it, got on her scooter and whizzed past me, splashing water on me. Umbrella could not help, literally.
By next rainy season, my crush had become someone else’s love. I lost my umbrella and any intereste in trying out romantic umbrella walk.
In the meanwhile, Bollywood kept churning out songs after songs showing romantic couples with their umbrellas, making me feel more and more inadequate.
Years passed by but I was unable to find an umbrella and a girl willing to share it at the same time.
Life moved me to Singapore where the rains was a daily affair. Well in my forties, like many other dreams, I had lost hope of fulfilling this dream, till it suddenly happened that day.
It was raining heavily and I had to step out of the office and go for a meeting couple of blocks away. I borrowed my colleague's umbrella. It was quite a small umbrella, good enough for me.
When I was about to cross the road I heard a sweet, gentle female voice.
‘Me?’ I turned around.
An unknown girl was trying to talk to me. She was a her thirties, slightly shorter than me, had a fair complexion, straight hair and sweet smile. She was wearing a short black dress and looked beautiful.
‘If you don’t mind, may I walk with you in your umbrella till next block? Would that be OK?’
What? Was it happening for real? Or was I daydreaming again?
‘I know it’s an odd request and if you say No, I completely understand. But I have an urgent meeting, just a block away and I can't find any taxi too’, she kept pleading.
‘Oh of course. You can join me. That’s not a problem at all.’
‘Thank you very much,’ She said with a smile.
Both of us held the umbrella and walked quite close to each other, saving ourselves from rains. I was close enough to smell her perfume. Heavy rains were forcing us to walk even closer. My arm was brushing against hers. But she was quite cool. She kept talking about the weather and sudden rains. I was trying to find out what I actually felt. But I wasn't quite sure, what I actually felt. It wasn’t too long before we reached our destination. She thanked me with a warm friendly smile and left.
I stood there for a while. Something that I was waiting for since my childhood suddenly happened to me and I was not sure what I felt about that. The girl was beautiful, warm and friendly. I walked quite close to her but did I feel romantic? Hell, No. Did she feel romantic? I am sure she didn’t.
So what is the fuss in movies all about? Do movies show the real life or what they show in movies is what we bring to real life? Do we actually feel romantic or we feel that we are feeling romantic because that is what is shown to us in movies? Do we stay true to our feelings or do our feelings get shaped by what we see on big screen, year after year?
Well, one sparrow doesn’t make a summer. I can’t conclude based on my experience alone. Have you felt romantic walking as a couple with umbrella in rains? What is the big deal with romance in umbrella?