The Umbrella Man

I want to have a cupcake, that’s the first thought that came to my mind when I got up today. It was raining, I could see straight out my window the mulberry tree soaking and sucking in all the wetness, the leaves turning the darkest shades of green and looking almost ready to be made into jams. Mulberry leaf jams, “urgh !”,  I want a cupcake to erase that awful imaginary taste from my mind.

I was walking down the hill from my small hill top hut to the town market thinking to myself how red velvet with butter cream frosting was what i wanted today. As I lifted my head i could see the whole valley, I lived in a small town that you could capture in one glimpse from any corner and for some weird reason it always rained, more like a drizzle. No one really minded the rain, you see for us it was just like sunshine. So, we embraced it, we never wore any raincoats or had and umbrellas. For that matter of fact we had no idea what an umbrella was.

Brent was not in town that week, he had to go sell his wood crafts in the city and probably bring back a lot of gifts for me as usual. He knew how I liked the special cigarettes that were tat bit more expensive and the books, always a dozen of them. We were together since childhood and grew up together, knew everything about each other and so we got engaged when we reached the right age because that was the most sensible thing to do. I had read so many things about love, so very practically and sensibly I had decided that this was a version of love and was completely acceptable and any how who was to argue with me.

The Cupcake Factory was the only bakery in our town and tough the name boasted of enormity it was a small cafe with four tables and a small kitchen with Mrs. Hilton barely being able to move around with tower of dishes always in her hands. She had the most warm and motherly smile and I loved her for the way she greeted me whenever I made  an appearance. Apparently, she was having a busy day as she had to bake a cake for denise’s wedding. I knew denise very well once, we were very good friends, the ones who would giggle whole day dreaming of the knights on white horses and cry about the helpless damsels in the books but then after school I had shut myself in that hill top hut and my only real friend was Brent. I had hid myself behind the veil of rain and I didn’t mind my secluded life that much but hearing about her wedding reminded me of all the times we had planned our weddings and promised to be each other’s maid of honor.

I stood there at the door lost in the whirlpool of thoughts when I saw him for the first time. You wouldn’t have missed him either he was holding it above his head, that bright orange thing and was walking towards the cafe. “Good Morning Miss!” he said as he closed the orange thing “Sorry to bother you, but could you tell me where Miss Rita lives.”.  I was so in the middle of my very important What-have-I-done-in-my-life and Why-did-I-push-everyone-away thoughts that his beautiful smile was met with an unpleasant frown. The look on his face made me  realize my rudeness and I made a sudden escape “Sorry, but what is that thing you are carrying? it is so weird.” He smiled at me and said ” Oh! this, this is an Umbrella miss. You see to protect me from the rain”.

“But why do want to be protected from the rain ?”

I asked.

He started explaining to me the applications of an umbrella for another five minutes and all I could think was, what a fool he was for wanting to escape the rain.

As i was a self proclaimed intellectual and all my books had taught me to reach out and learn more about the world by talking with other people. It was after few cups of coffee and the topic of Brent that reminded me of my reality, my solitude, my engagement, my hill top hut and of something new. Something I felt, it was warm like the cup of coffee and sweet like cupcake. It was this stranger who had struck those feeling in me, he was not a stranger anymore, he was My umbrella man. I stood up and tried to rush back but he stopped me. I lied to him about a lamb stew that was cooking but he knew it was a lie. He knew he had no hold on me but still he asked me to stay, wasn’t he late to meet Rita I asked but he too wanted to delay and stay. We were in need of each other’s company, completing some gaps that were left by the unvisited knights and princesses.

It seemed like ages were passing as we were talking …about our Chldhood, our secrets, our sins, breaking walls i took all my life to build around me.

As the sun started setting we were reminded that the cafe was about to be closed, so we stood up and I insisted that I’ll pay as he was a guest. We walked towards the counter and I handed out two bills of fifty to the old lady , my hands shivering from knowing his presence behind me and as Mrs. Hilton turned around to get my change he bent forward and blew on my neck and I froze on the spot. That was it, no physical contact but his sweet perfume got embedded on my skin and a desire that was untold, was expressed. I wanted to ask him to come to my house, sit with me besides the fire, and hold me. He had paralysed me.

I hastily took the remaining balance and we walked towards the door and as I was preparing to say something I got interrupted by Rita at the door expressing her concern on not seeing an expected guest for four hours. He stumbled with his good byes and I couldn’t see anything in his eyes. But as he walked away I suddenly felt something new, I suddenly realized that I felt the wetness of the rain… Falling from my brows, travelling through my cheeks, my chin to the ground.

I suddenly wanted an umbrella.

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