When I stopped, I was shocked to see the colour draining from his plum face. "Are you sure she was wearing red? What did you say she was doing?" he asked nervously. "What exactly was she singing?"
"Look Ramu, it's nothing serious. She could simply have come here for a stroll!"
The stupidity of what I was suggesting hit me.
"She was singing about blossoms carried away by the river, shadows and church bells."
For a moment, I thought Ramu might faint. I made him sit and drink. When blood returned to his pallor, I told him to proceed.
He began in a small voice, with shaking hands. "She ain't a girl but a wandering soul, Sahib. Krishan claimed to have seen her, but none of us believed him, as he is a liar. But now that you saw her, it's true!"
I didn't believe him but didn't tell him so either as men of the valley are very sentimental.
Assuring Ramu that I would be extremely careful and letting him pack my trunks, I released him.
Alone again, I sat with a coffee mug and my portfolio.
The sun was blushing red and a sweet breeze was blowing. Unable to concentrate, I decided to take a stroll.
Walking past the dust road and ferns, I reached the turn where the river flowed the fiercest. Just a hundred yards away, stood the deserted remains of the countryside church- one of the only signs that people had once lived here.
I walked towards the river and peered over its edge. A shudder ran down my spine. Somehow, I got reminded of floating blossoms.
It was then that I realized that all around me, mist had set in. 'Ramu was right. The weather is getting worse!' I told myself.
Even before I could rush, big drops of rain started falling. I swore. There was no way I could get back without drenching myself to the bone. Besides, the mist was tricky!
So, like a logical man, I ran for cover, which happened to be the church.
The church gave an air of welcoming solitude.