It was the same routine. Like a daily monotonous job. That part of life we have no control over. And we are forced to sit through it brooding through what our life has become and what would it become. But that unpleasant stream of thoughts would always get broken when she would arrive.
And she would be there, every single day.
She walked in yet again this time in a blue top and a comfy jeans coz she looked really comfortable. She wore her hair loose, helps us distinguish angels from the mob. Her eyes scrounged for a seat, or was it me? Hard to tell! Because she would do both at the same time.
She sifted through a couple of them before finally coming to the one that was parallel to mine at the other side of the aisle. She turned around to look at me. I turned to look at her. Not a nod. Not a word said. But I felt that familiarity kick in and a sense of contentment filled my heart.
It had become a regular affair for us to be left out completely alone when a variety of life would choose to drain out the doors at the second last stop. As people would fall off into another confusing humdrum pool, we would steal glances again as a sign of reassurance so as to say – at least we have got each other.
The bus had sealed our fate. It was as if we had known each other a lifetime now. We were being driven to the same place. We didn’t mind the potholes that came along. The discomfiture had somehow turned fun, as we would always furtively catch each other absurdly staring.
She would occasionally pretend to look past me but settle her eyes on me for a while to see what I was up to. I would do the same, and our eyes will meet in a handshaking gesture. But none of our expressions would read anything. It is the worst – trying to paint on a dead canvas.
This time it felt different though. This time I read confident. Could be the breakfast I had or the birds that chirped me into a bright dawn.
When the traffic dropped and there were only the two of us left, and it began to once again become awkward with the staring and with no words spoken, I decided to break the ice. Or it wasn’t a decision it just happened naturally and I went with the flow.
A hermit had gotten into a fight with the driver. As he was getting off he looked at us and shouted,
“This bus is going to hell!”
My eyebrows furrowed as I looked at her and for the first time I blurted out,
“Should we like get off, now?”
And I saw her smile for the first time and it was pure bliss. Mission accomplished, I thought.
“The driver does look like the devil.”
She replied and I laughed too.
“So…..A bus regular?”
I wanted to remain stuck in that conversation.
“No, it’s my first time. You?”
And I laughed again. She was funny. Who could have guessed without knowing?
“I am a regular. I like to smell sweaty people, let them read my messages, allow them to brush themselves against me, feel me, you know. It’s been fantastic so far!”
She laughed at my sarcasm.
“You must love the locals then. They even scratch your itch.”
“You let them do that to you?”
“Only when I am too exhausted to reach there myself.”
And we both laughed really loud this time. The devil turned around to have a look at us. He looked surprised that I could talk. As our laugh turned into smiles I managed,
She raised her brow laughing still,
“Hi right back at ya! I think that was supposed to be your opening line.”
“Opening lines are overrated.”
She smiled at me once again. I think deep down something was working.
“So what do you do?” I couldn’t stop myself now. I wanted to talk to her forever.
“Mm…hmmm so that, like pays?”
“Yes, these paper thingies!” she took out a couple of greens from her pockets and flared them at me triumphantly.
“Naaawwwww…..and then you take them to the shop?” I made a concerned face.
“Oh! Are we supposed to do that? I thought they were sovereigns meant to be kept forever. Oh! Wait I just realized. I might have become a millionaire by now.”
“Good thing I bumped into you.”
“You say that as if it happened today.”
“Well, it feels like it.” and I smiled as I said that.
She realized that too and then turned around wondering about something. We both didn’t say a word for a while. I have this wont of going deep on people. I was hoping to be more careful with my words.
The bus sneezed in the backdrop as I wondered if I had it in me to quickly create a new conversation out of thin air.
As I was about to say something, she turned around to say something too. Our timing oozed out desperation. I let her continue,
“I was just going to say, we could get off right here and then maybe, we could walk the talk the rest of our way?”
“Oh! That was quick. If I had known about the wonders my mouth could do…..”
“Or we could not.” She might have felt embarrassed.
“I am just messing with you. Come on let’s go.”
And I hopped out as she asked the driver to stop the bus. The driver grinned at me as if he had been ailing for me all this time to go out with that hot chick.
I nodded at him as I alighted from the bus. It felt kind of strange stepping away to breathe for a while even before you have reached your destination.
Twenty minutes later our jobs didn’t matter to us anymore as we stepped into a cool café on the roadside to lose ourselves in a million dollar conversation.
Exactly ten minutes later I slithered my hand into hers, and it didn’t even strike her as a surprise. But that’s how badly I wanted to be with her, and she understood. She claimed it was written in my eyes all along.
Just then the bus came to a sudden halt, and it shook my very foundation up. It was our stop and she was getting out as usual. She turned around to look at me once again. I waited for her to descend. Then I picked up my crutches and with a heavy heart still acknowledging my beautiful reverie made my way to the bus door.
The bus driver didn’t turn around this time. The girl was nowhere in sight. And my words silently mumbled the distress under my breath.