BUS STOP STRANGERS

It was a mesmerizing starry night. The clouds embraced the sky like a soft, cotton quilt. The sublime beauty of the vast sky was accentuated by sparkling stars, adorning it like a precious crown of jewels. Its serenity and tranquility made it look heavenly, and a perfect abode for peaceful, departed souls. Its calmness was akin to that of a baby that has been lulled to sleep, reflecting innocence so valuable that you would trade adulthood for it.

The birds nestled in the silent trees welcomed the night for the comfort that it brought, putting an end to all the tiresome activities of the day. The trees stood still with their strong branches, protecting the families of birds from the evils of night. The moon caressed the tender leaves with its pure, white light.

The street also seemed to relax in the absence of persistent honking of vehicles and exhausting traffic. The street in alliance with the streetlights formed a marvellous stretch of glazing path as if it was a route to heaven. One or two cars could be seen moving on the street with ease as there was no traffic but the street did not fret their presence because it also basked in the glory of this splendid night.

There was a bus stop in the right hand corner of the street. A colourful advertisement on Delhi tourism was encrusted on one of the panels of the bus stop.  The advertisement encased in a glass case glowed under the influence of tube lights behind it, drawing attention to its content. Comfortable, metallic perforated seats glistened brilliantly under the influence of tube lights.

Night is very often associated with darkness, horror and evil. But it was a pleasant and charming night that embraced comfort and solace. Two strangers were waiting at the bus stop.

A man was over the phone talking to someone in a calm, relaxed manner. The talk was interrupted by amusing chuckles and giggles at short intervals.  Maybe he was talking to a friend. With one hand in his pocket, he sauntered casually across the bus stop. He was attired in semi grey formal trousers and a navy blue shirt. A smart wristwatch cuffed his left wrist.  His gait suggested that he was enjoying the soft whistling of wind. He had a cheerful face, bereft of any worries, and it reflected happiness and optimism. His bespectacled eyes magnified his sense of belongingness and peace that he experienced every time he gazed at the moon.

A woman sat on one corner of the seat at the bus stop. She was clad in blue jeans and a smart peach coloured kurti with her hair falling slightly on her face. With her face resting on her chin, she anxiously tapped her feet on the floor as if she was waiting for someone or something. She glanced at her phone to check the time. It displayed 9:30 PM. The omnipresent tranquility of this bright night was futile in putting an end to her chain of thoughts. It streamed through her mind like a trail of misty water droplets on the window after a shower of rain. The workings of the day had certainly exhausted her, and she was gripped with the urgency to rest on her cosy bed. She raised her head slightly to look around. She did not have an angelic face, yet was attractive in some way for her eyes shone like a diamond owing to the soft light cast by moon. Her shiny, jet black hair crowned her head like smooth, soft silk. The black beads of her jhumka swayed with the pleasant, gentle breeze. Even though she looked tired and a little worried, her enigmatic eyes could arrest anybody’s attention.

They were strangers. But everyday they met at the bus stop. She took the 9:40 PM bus, and he took the 10:00 PM, last bus. It was an everyday affair. They both never tried talking to each other. Only once he had asked her for water because he was feeling little dizzy. She gave him water, two biscuits and a candy.

He liked walking to and fro while waiting for the bus. She always silently watched his gentle footsteps, marching across in a rhythmic manner. He always looked surreptitiously at her every time he crossed her as if he was looking at the advertisement to find something new even when it wasn’t changed for over a month. He always silently admired her enigmatic eyes, and the small black bindi on her forehead. Even with the pervading silence, they both seemed to enjoy each other’s company. Their eyes never met but still they enjoyed this peculiar silent companionship.

He had stopped talking over the phone, and now sat on the seat. He started humming a tune softly to himself which he thought wasn’t audible to her. But she could hear it for she smiled slightly. She looked around in his direction without any deliberate intention of looking at him. But today their eyes met and he said, “Hi, I am Gaurav. It’s pleasant today.” She rejoined, “Yes it is, I am Malvika.”

Her bus finally arrived but today it came at 9:45 PM. She left her seat, and rushed towards the door but slightly tripped over a stone. She was saved from any impending embarrassment. But today in a fraction of a second something different and memorable happened. She found him standing beside her, holding her. She said, “Thank you. Goodnight,” without looking in his direction. She boarded the bus, and it left the bus stop.

They both exchanged an unseen smile. It was unseen to them but others had witnessed it; the sky, the wind and the moon. He took the last bus home. Tomorrow might not be just another day at the bus stop because a change, perhaps something new seemed to beckon them.

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