Venice, on a rainy day in early February, is not the best place for a quiet stroll. We had spent most of the day indoors in our hotel room. As the evening drew closer, the heavy downpour subsided to a light drizzle. Braving the chill, we drew our scarves snugly around our necks and went out for an early dinner. After the meal, we felt like taking the walk we had been postponing all day. After all, we didn’t come to Venice to stay indoors.
As we stepped out of the restaurant, the chilly breeze made us shiver to our core. However, the rain had stopped finally. We started walking towards the Rialto bridge. I couldn’t help but notice that the rain had allowed us to view Venice in a diametrically opposite perspective to the one we were used to from watching various movies or tourism advertisements. The Venice portrayed there was sunny and bright, with crowds thronging the foot bridges, while the gondoliers
sang their odes for the love-struck couples riding their boats. That Venice had colourful buildings lining up the Grand Canal through which mesmerised tourists riding the vaporettos
either arrived to the explore the majesty of this great city or departed with the memories of a lifetime.
This was not that Venice. This rain-soaked city was devoid of its flashy countenance. This seemingly sombre version had empty streets. The only colours visible were the dull yellow cast by the streetlamps, shimmering on the waters of the canals, interspersed with the pitch black of a moonless night. The crowds hadn’t bothered to venture out in the cold which left the shopkeepers no other choice than to call it a day. The narrow alleys and the innumerable foot bridges sprayed across the city wore a deserted look as if someone had just died. It seemed like we were the only two souls alive on the face of this earth. All around us was a cloud of melancholy as if to represent the mood of the weather and the inhabitants of the city.
Undeterred, we kept walking. When we reached the Rialto bridge, I led her down the steps towards the Grand Canal. Sitting ourselves down on the steps, I took her hand in mine. It was freezing. Her hands were always freezing. I took both of her hands in mine to warm them up. She leaned against me and rested her head on my shoulder. We didn’t say much. We just took in the sight in front of us. The yellow streetlamps glistening on the calm waters of the Grand Canal. Their calmness reflected the calm I felt inside. Granted, it wasn’t the fabled version of Venice we were experiencing. But it was a surreal version for us. Here I was, sitting next to my beautiful wife — the love of my life — on the bank of one of the most famous canals in the world and looking out at one of the most beautiful cities in the world. How could I ask for more? Looking at her eyes — those deep black eyes that had an unparalleled brightness — I told her that I loved her. She smiled and said she loved me too. Taking deep breaths, we resumed watching the dance of the lights and sat there for a long time.
All the things that bothered us about that night felt like blessings now. The cold and damp that kept the crowds at bay made us feel like we were the only ones in the Floating City. We could do anything without anyone bothering us. The lights that danced around us on the water and were reflected on the wet streets didn’t seem any less beautiful than the stars that shimmer on a clear night. The dark cloudy night provided the perfect canvas to paint our dreams — the dreams of a lifelong contentment felt for the first time that night. The city had transformed itself to fit our mould. It wasn’t the Venice of the movies or the tales. It was our Venice. It was the Venice we will carry with us for years to come.
With a smile on my face I led her to our lodgings wondering excitedly what the future holds for us.
NOTE TO WIFE
: If you are reading this, then Happy Valentine’s Day.