Carelessly I got down the bus, with half-expectations from what I did and where I was going. I feel like a loose shelf, ever ready to fall with the burden of things upon me.
As soon as I get down the bus pulls away. I cross the road towards another bus stop I see in the opposite direction, to take a bus back home. I do it every Sunday; it helps me kill my boredom. I get up at eight in the morning, have my breakfast and incessantly move out of my one bedroom apartment for a long bus ride from home to an incoherent destination and back. It thrills me.
They think I am crazy because I try to find happiness in the smallest pleasures of life. Now, I wish to stay away from them, I love the way I am but they always try and find flaws in my life.
They tell me that there is a void in my life, my eyes look empty to them…I hate it when they say it.
Why? Only because I am a 38 years old spinster. What if I never had a companion? Was it wrong if I snubbed every man who approached me?
‘No,’ you are not normal, they say, they, who claim to be my friends. Actually, they loathe my status, they are trying to force their sadness upon me….burden me further, make me fall before I could try and sit.
I already feel heavy; I do not want more, is all I can argue.
Well, somewhere they know I am vacant like my fishbowl without water, they have seen me draw two tea cups every morning and drink both leaving none so as to satiate the hollow in my life. They are angered when I pick up my receiver and talk, only to hear myself. They tell me that my ear drums ring an unhappy and lonesome calling. I have no family, nobody to call a father, no mother, siblings though living, died years ago for me. If I have someone it is only my friends, but they do not seem to understand me very well now. They have begun to jeer at me and I am not enjoying it.
I am waiting at the stop, like a lost traveller. It has just started raining; the drops are slowly raging becoming forceful with the tick of every second. The drops hit my senses, I realise the need to come back to the present.
I push open my umbrella, it unfurls its rainbow colours, and my head feels colourful with the reflection. Now I suddenly feel pleasant. The road is empty as nobody really finds the need to be on the street early on a Sunday morning, ceaselessly waiting for a bus.
The rain is getting heavier, I am drenched completely, it is past half an hour but I cannot see a motor pass by. The emptiness of the street slowly begins to creep into the vacant heart of mine. Tears begin to roll down my eyes, but I cannot see my tears , the rains try hard to wash it along with them….but my senses allow me to decipher the salinity of my tears and the sweetness of rain water. I know I am crying but nobody can see me crying, even not him.
Oh! I didn’t realize, there is a young man standing besides me, his yellow raincoat covers him and he is the only person I see on the road. It looks like he is also waiting for a bus. Though I am waiting I really do not know whether my reason will give me satisfaction.
Another fifteen minutes move by, with only two of us on the street I still see no sign of a bus. As time passes his restlessness grows. I think he wants to go somewhere urgently. He looks at me every few seconds, trying to find means to approach me, though he seems a little hesitant, I know he will, any moment.
I can see him come closer to me. His face looks pale, troubled and anxious. I try and distance myself but it becomes impossible since he is trying to strike a conversation, but I don’t really want to talk to anyone. I want to be left by myself but he comes closer.
“If you do not mind, can I ask where you are heading for?” he asks hesitantly.
“Why?” I ask angrily, as if he were intruding my comfort zone.
“Actually, I don’t think heavy rain like this will permit moving of buses, we could hire a taxi instead. It would be cheaper if we shared one.”
“I am not interested? I prefer waiting.” I said rudely.
He turned back, after giving me a go-to-hell stare and said, “Sorry, if I have to say this, but you were very rude, I was just trying to be kind to you.”
Realising I was in the wrong, I apologized for my behaviour. He then moved away from me and sat on the railing, still waiting. Another half an hour passed by, I couldn’t see a bus yet. He was still waiting for a bus, I felt bad, I shouldn’t have been so impolite.
“I think you should take a cab and leave, you are getting soaked out here,” I suggest.
“Oh! Its ok, I prefer the bus, lets see how long it takes, it should be there…in a few moments right. If I have waited so long, why not a few more hours.” he replied sarcastically.
The rain splashed endlessly, my rainbow umbrella did not help much, and neither did his yellow raincoat.
In actuality, we were bathing under a cold shower for hours. The tap didn’t shut and I don’t think we wanted it to either. It helped me loosen the aching knots within me, but I failed to understand how it was helping him.
“You seem to be disturbed,” he said as if reading my mind.
I wanted to give back to him once again, for intruding my privacy. But I stayed calm and replied only few minutes later. “I love getting drenched in the rain; it makes me feel better. Otherwise, only the foolish would wait for hours like this. Does that answer your question?”
“Got it! You are counting time and your loneliness is disturbing you. Isn’t it?” he quipped with a smirk. Unintentionally, he got the hint.
“Yes, it kills me everyday, I hate to say it but this is how I stay alive,” I said half-brooding, trying to sense self –pity. I had opened myself to a person I knew only for few hours or so. I became a little conscious and tried keeping shut. But somehow, I wanted to pour myself. “My friends tell me that I live a life of a recluse, I hate them for this. They never reciprocate when I want them to.”
“Ok, go on,” he said, his ear consuming every word that hit his drums, appreciating my fears without sympathy. “Can I know who your friends are? I mean…if you really don’t mind mentioning those pig-heads who keep on saying this to you?”
“Yes of course, those pig-heads are my sheets, my sofa, the pillows where I lay, my house keys, my chair, my table….”
He interrupted suddenly. “I think we need to talk about this at a coffee table. You mind a hot cup of coffee….the weather also seems perfect. And my car just stands bang opposite this stop. We could hitch to the nearest outlet…that’s if you…”
“I don’t mind, I want to talk,” I said shocked yet not discomfited with what he said. He had a car, then what forced him to wait. Where did he want to go? Questions cropped, but he had listened to me and I couldn’t have asked better. I walked along with him to his car.
That day had been alleviating, I found a friend, a human, now my lifeless friends had nothing to laugh at me about.
We only spoke for few months, until Leukemia drew us apart. He died, I knew he was going to die, no one knew about it though. He needed to talk, so did I. We found relief in each other. He was a companion whose presence made a big difference to my inanimate life. His death didn’t kill me; it gave me a reason to live, a reason to understand souls like me. Now I am not alone…I am at peace. My friends don’t see me cry anymore, his memories are enough to re-live what I lost.
Kaheen mere aasuon ne mujhe dhoka de diya,
Raah main chalte chalte mera saath chod liya,
Baithi hoon main tanha, kisi ke yaadon main ghum hoon kahin,
Lekin ajib hain haseen aa rahi hain, aasun nahin,
Shaayad in aasuon ko un lamho ne kaid kar liya…