Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Her

It was one of those humid sunny days that the season always brought in. Sweat drips down not just your brows but streaks across your back, making every effort to discomfit you. More often than not, the attempts are successful, if you go by the number of people making irritable faces, attempting to reach out to their backs, as if their contorted hands will help improve their position; after all, even if one such streaker were to be successfully thwarted, another would come racing.

I was amongst the countless many, as I stood there. The sun decided to come out today, making the afternoon an unbearable affair. Nothing monumental about it. As is always the case, I stood at a bus stand along the R..... Road, hoping to catch a bus that leads me to my destiny. The bus could hopefully give me a temporary reprieve. Air conditioned buses had been introduced recently, and the heightened fares seem to have had little impact on the enthusiasm of one and all in boarding it. And who can be blamed for it? The sweltering heat and unbearable humidity could be combated for a few moments at the cost of a few extra bucks; and clearly everyone looked forward to these few moments of relief in the midst of not just irascible weather but also a life that led to little else apart from being constituting a milling crowd.

The settings are usual for me. Every day, at this time of the day, after four, I am waiting for a bus. It is almost always after four when I head towards the bus station. I don’t have a watch with me, and I conveniently keep my cellular phone away from me in a bag slung around my shoulders out of fear of it being pocketed away by certain unfriendly people who haunt crowded spaces with much glee. And buying a cellphone is double the trouble. Money has to be poured down the drain for a perfectly useless device that has made us all dependent on itself even before we could take cognizance of the fact. I will also lose contact information of scores of people, to whom I shall have to apologize for no fault of mine, and request for re-sharing those details. As it is, I am not sociable; to lose a phone would be nothing less than a disaster for me. Hence, in my effort to not cause inconveniences of this sort, I hide my phone. Thus, all I ever know about time in that moment of the day is that it is certainly after four.

I always wonder what made that day what it was. There was nothing but ordinariness about the day. The sun was where it always is; the people’s movements were what they always are; my indifference was what it always is. But is it only about the weather, the sun or the people engaged in their randomness, their organized chaos? Or is it about moments that are indelible in time; moments that stick in your head for a lifetime? Perhaps it is the former; or maybe it is the latter. I don’t know; it is all starting to sound delirious....

Just then, I notice a girl walking across the road. Why do I notice her? Is it love at first sight? Or is it physical attraction? The girl clearly is not noticed by anyone else. Perhaps it is one of those moments where we have nothing to do, and so we start looking at people, trying to pass time by making educated guesses about them. But this girl...there is something different about her. She has your average looks, and she is dressed ordinarily, with that typical bag every woman carries with her when moving around (I guess). And yet, all I could do was to look at her. Some strange magnetic attraction had pulled my gaze towards her, and my eyes follow every movement of hers. The heat of the day is getting to her like it is to everyone else, including me. I noticed her wiping the sweat off her brow with something like a handkerchief, or was it a tissue paper? Sometimes, even the smallest of details make a substantial difference in the story that is to be told. And yet, even at that distance, it was as if someone had magnified a telescope on my eyes, solely focusing on her, her face. There was some kind of visible irritation on her face. It must be the weather. Such irritation often arises in this sweltering heat and suffocating humidity. But beneath those layers of irritation, there was a strange calmness that concealed itself well from everyone around her. Barely did anyone around her take notice of her presence. It was the usual; you ignore my existence, while I continue to ignore yours. The indifference is always mutual.

As the moments passed one could see visible tension on her face. Clearly, she was looking for someone. Or something. Her line of sight kept shifting every few moments, but seemed to be following a steady direction. As I kept staring at her, I began to notice her features. The eyes were a normal shape; her nose was somewhat long and pudgy at the same time. Clearly, she was not wearing any make up, though there was quite an effort to look presentable made on her part. The fidgeting with the clothes seemed to give away her discomfort with the apparel. Perhaps it was a little loose for her, a bit oversize. Her body type was average, and so the clothes seem to be slightly big on her, nearly engulfing her into their various reams and folds. And yet, she kept playing with them around her waist, almost having fun with them.

All of a sudden, I note her gaze becoming steadfast. It was probably to my left; I thought I would look around to whatever or whoever it was in some time, when she raised her right hand. It was slender, not beautiful by any means. She took that hand across her waist, and firmed something.

And then, even before I could realize what happened, there was a blast.

The girl blew up, and so did many others who stood by her, unaware of her existence. The bus stand was ablaze, and there was blood all over. Vehicles had come to a standstill, while a nearby scooter (or was it a motorcycle) had flown right across the road due to the impact.

People were running for their lives, screaming to reach out to heavens know whom, while I stood there, transfixed.

Or perhaps I was stunned and horrified, too much in shock to even understand what happened right then and there in time.

I would never know who she was. All I know is that it was her.

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