|The KSRTC bus ride back home|
Image Courtesy: Nostalgic Kerala Photos
That evening was a strange one. After bidding farewell to my friends, I took off from Kochi hoping to reach home by evening. Time does its plays in every man’s life, and on that day it had found pleasure in squeezing its fangs on mine.
The journey began rather well. I had refreshed myself with some snacks and a lime soda for the three and half hour bus ride back home. The places sparkled in familiarities; but the bus was overcrowded, providing a chance to explore my bachelorism.
The one thing you know when you are a bachelor is that time will pass easily. This theory is often picked up from laziness, as almost all the men in bachelordom like to waste time with their mischief and many pranks. One among them is flirting. The boredom arouses every now and then, leading to newer discoveries each day – some of which may sound totally insane!
One such incident occurred during my college days. The food at the hostel mess had got over by the time my roommates and I returned from our movie. Life in that remote area of Tamil Nadu is ever memorable with its mini-theatres and all the action available both in and out of campus - at rather cheap rates. Hunger had struck us by that time, and since we hostellers weren’t allowed to use electrical appliances, making something was not an easy task. However, I had some left over sugar in custody. We decided to raid the mess hall at night. The storekeeper was not pleased. He scolded us and asked to leave. We retorted, applying that all we wanted was a packet of coffee! He had to oblige. Now we did not have a kettle, but there was my oversized stainless steel dinner plate! We borrowed steel glasses of equal height and set them upside down on the floor of our room, to form a stove. Roaming around the hostel for some sort of fuel to cook, we managed to collect fifteen to twenty candles from various rooms. The match box was easy to find, as we teenagers had our habits! Filling two liters of water from the filter, we got back to our room. We set the candles around our ‘stove’ and lighted them up. Then we fixed the ‘dinner plate’ atop our ‘stove’, and poured in a liter of water. After ten minutes of boiling the water, we added the sugar and the coffee and stirred our beverage. The aroma was simply appetizing for that night! That was how we made our candlelight coffee, spiced up by a talented cameraman who did the commendatory rather well.
Image Courtesy: P/B
Travelling was one of the entertaining pastimes of my life. I’ve had my share of airplane, train and bus rides to various places around the world. Of all these places, India still intrigues me to this day! I’d prefer the window seat and gaze at life along the road. On that evening, I was comfortably seated aside a window and was enjoying the scenes of tropical Kerala. But before I knew it, I was texting this on my Nokia:
I’m pissed, I’m cold, and I’m wet;
It’s raining and I can’t feel any sweat.
This rickety bus mourns,
My self-esteem’s finding cons!
I just want to get home,
Or any place with a ‘MAN’ board on;
Just murder this guilty ride,
It’s a bachelor’s pride at plight!
Amidst the mind’s “oohs” and “aahs”,
I dream of a relief far from sight!
The bus had reached a quarter of my journey, and it would be difficult to quit the ride and find another one after relieving myself. So I shut myself to other thoughts. Uncontrollable emotions filled my mind. For once I wished I could just turn OFF for a while. But, all good things happen when you least expect it. And at precisely the right time, my adjacent passenger decided to exit, and a damsel standing next to him occupied his vacancy. Wow! I felt as if it had snowed in summer!
|The sign I longed to see!|
Image Courtesy: Amusing Planet
To add to my jeopardy, the girl looked familiar. It took some time for me to recognize that she used to live next to my home a long time ago. Oh God! Why this kolaveri? Could I tell her how I really felt at that moment? It was embarrassing. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I took out my phone and typed some more:
I mourn, I bleed, I scream, but
When I sleep, I dream, I fly!
I kid, I prank, and I joke,
When I see you face to face, I choke!
This girl was the girl of my childhood dreams. We grew up as play-mates, often playing childish games with our friends. Now, after many years, she was rather a cute stranger. Looking at my unfriendly appeal, she decided to strike her conversation.
“I thought you didn’t recognize me until I saw you smile at the window. What are you doing these days?” she inquired with a smile.
“Hmm... I’m studying at Kochi. Didn’t you see that on Facebook?” I replied, stabbing myself mentally for not making the first dialogue perfect.
“I’m not an avid FB user. Totally busy these days with college work you know”, she said with a frown.
“ Yeah, that’s what they all say!”, I guffawed. I wondered if any of my other friends on Facebook really knew what I was doing.
“Who are they? Your girl friends?”, was her immediate sarcasm.
Now that was too much. Girls always want to know you better once they are familiar with you. Some even think they have you all figured out.
“No, I meant that on a general note. Where are you headed?” I was trying to act friendly while mourning inside.
“To a friend’s place for the weekend”, she replied. “What about you?”
“I’m going home to meet my Grandma”, I replied uninterestedly.
“Oh. That’s good. How is she? And where are your parents and sister? She was being friendly.
“They’re all fine. Parents are in Kuwait. Sister has joined college”, I replied quickly.
After that I couldn’t control myself. So I got up, took my bag from the rack above me and pretended to pull out a pair of headphones to listen to some music. Seeing my unusual behavior towards her, she sighed and started texting or calling someone on her iphone. I didn’t bother to talk to her as I was busy trying to contain my situation, although I must admit that it was heaven in hell!
Life felt like an advertisement. The smarter you present yourself the wiser people think you are. Instincts! But that doesn’t happen always. Nature was calling me madly. And time was moving slowly. The bus managed to find all the unnecessary hurdles that day. Crazy speed breakers and the endless rain had fueled the adventure. But my mood was not right for such an occasion. To add to my misery, an accident had taken place along the highway and the traffic through our lane was soon diverted, which would increase my journey by half an hour! There was no escape from the inevitable. I couldn’t spit or swallow – I just had to eat time!
At that time, I decided to pray! I closed my eyes, tuned my playlist to Worship songs and pretended to loose myself with it. But with each beat, I was gripping my bag harder, and cursing my bad luck!
Somehow, the bus reached the next big station – Alappuzha. I go out from the seat with my bag and headed to the rear exit of the bus through the crowd. As soon as the bus stopped, I jumped out and was scanning the area for a spot. Thank God I was in Kerala where the field of scope for such entities is endless. Behind me I saw a fellow passenger push me and run. I followed him. Soon we found ourselves a clearing behind some trees and relieved ourselves.
He was smiling at me. “Thank God… What a relief!”, he said.
“Hehe…I never thought I’d make it!”, I exclaimed.
I had exited the bus without wishing her goodbye. I saw her heading towards a shop in Alappuzha. I decided to wait for the next bus rather than to follow her. I felt guilty for being rude to her with my silence. The next bus arrived and I took it to my hometown.
Night fell by the time I reached my destination. The daily power cut was going on, and the rain seemed far from stopping. I left my umbrella in Kochi; however, I had a torch, and decided to walk home. Some wild dogs were seen patrolling the roads and some of them barked at me disapprovingly. Along the way, I met an old man. He had an umbrella. It didn’t take long for us to share our resources and move ahead, although we never spoke a word. Sometimes, some angels are sent from God even amidst rainy situations - here I was his angel, and he was mine!
Image Courtesy: Nostalgic Kerala
I reached home, and after a brief welcome and story-telling session from Grandma, I got refreshed and logged on to Facebook. To my surprise, she was online.
“Hey, reached home? I couldn't say goodbye before I left”, she messaged me.
“Yeah, you were too busy with your phone nah”, I guffawed, hiding the truth.
And then we continued our private conversations…
An evening on that bus and the events that followed, taught me a lesson. If it’s wintering in your life right now, can spring be far behind? Soak tears of sorrow no more, because joy is on her way home!