At the end of just another day at work, she packed her bag and left for home. She had about 20 minutes before the bus would arrive but she preferred to get to the bus stop much earlier than tad later. She walked briskly, taking small but quick steps. A lot of her friends teased her for the way she walked. Someone not even 5 ft. tall, this was her way of catching up with the tall part of the world. But mostly, she used her loud voice to make up for her height (or lack of it).
Just as she stepped out of the office, it dawned on her that she’d have a guest. He was going to accompany her on her bus ride. She generally likes her trips alone. She uses the time to read, mostly. Today, she isn’t going to get that personal time. Strangely, she didn’t mind it. Well, they’d been talking about having a good conversation for long. Today was it.
Mentally preparing to say all the right things, she walked in strides and he walking with her. On any other day, he’d walk faster than her and mostly find himself walking in front of her; not only because he was taller, he was by habit a brisk walker. He has a vivid memory of the fight they once had about walking ahead of her. So, today, he was walking beside her. Actually they were walking in a single file. He was right behind her.
Just a few steps up the foot over bridge and a few steps down, they arrived at the bus stop. She looked at her watch; it wasn’t time yet. She sat down on the marble-esque bench and took a deep breath. He was walking up and down. He was nervous. While they were waiting for the bus, she decided to start the “conversation”.
So, she stood up and leaned on the metal structure, which was probably built to stop people from falling off the bus stop. She stopped for a moment to tell herself that she won’t fall off. When she was sure, she looked up. He was still walking frantically. He still shivered in his pants about going to make love to the girl he’s fallen in love with. He was goofy – Nah! He was in love.
She finally began the conversation, choosing her words ever so carefully. “Are you alright?” she asked, the sentence she’d mastered to utter without any emotion, during her job in a retail store abroad. It had no emotion or concern, though she meant it with all her heart. He politely told her that he was while making a face that showed her clearly that he was lying. She, however, thought it was all right.
After a comfortable silence for a couple of seconds, they got talking. He spoke to her, stuttering all along, telling her all (and only) that he wanted to. After several tough and lonely months, he had fallen in love again. More importantly, he had realised that he was capable of falling in love again. His previous relationship (when ended) had left him shattered. She wasn’t very sympathetic towards him because she believed that he took masochistic pleasures out of his break-up. He was in pain nonetheless. She knew it. She wished he gave himself a better life.
He continued to narrate his plans for the evening, how he wanted to do it, how he wanted to make her feel, what this should be and such details. She, in an attempt to keep the conversation going, told him a few harmless things about her preferences. They laughed over the absurdity of this information. She knew what she had just said made him comfortable; it showed in his laugh. The ten seconds he laughed, he wasn’t fiddling with his phone and searching for a place to keep his hands intact. She watched him relax. Strangely, it was visible.
In all of this, she deliberately kept the word ‘love’ out of the conversation. She knew it’d hurt him later. She wasn’t sure his love was being returned in the same proportion. Every time she even had to mention ‘love making’, she always called it ‘s3x’ or ‘bang’ or ‘fun’ or ‘hump’ to ensure he doesn’t attach too much importance to the ‘act’. She got him talking about it. Her own way of making him feel comfortable – which she presumed is what he wanted at the moment.
He told her why he was so nervous; while blowing his trumpet as if she had to be convinced that he was good on bed. He spoke to her of being a talker, and while he noticed a slight discomfort in her expression, he was quick to add that all the women he’s been with enjoyed it. More importantly, he told the word ‘women’ with a stress on the plural, more times than necessary. She laughed. She didn’t need to be convinced of his abilities.
Just while the conversation had taken off, she noticed her thoughts wandered. It was her way of consuming the information (because he wanted her to) and saving herself from judging him. In all of the 20 minutes that they both have been standing there, for the first time, she noticed there were at least 20 vehicles passing by them every single second. Practically every one of them was honking so loud that it could bring the skies down. There was so much noise, it was deafening. She let the feeling sink in. In a rather weird way, she enjoyed the fact that she could cut out so much ‘noise’ from her life, without even much effort.
When he saw her looking around, he looked around too and for the first time noticed the vehicles around him. Perhaps, the noise had suddenly risen, because he heard nothing until a few seconds ago. He, rather nonchalantly said, someone should write about this conversation. The place, the time and the words exchanged. She made a mental note.
It was past 7 on a weekday evening. She was wearing a new sari that hadn’t even had its ends stitched. She was carrying a handbag and a lunch bag standing at a well-maintained bus stop on a painfully busy road in a big city. He however, had nothing but the phone he was fiddling with. There were less than 10 other people standing at the bus stop. She looked around to find a handsome boy she can add to the story. She found one on a bike in front of her. He honked and she was put off. She decided to keep the story about the conversation and nobody else.
When the bus arrived, he waited for her to get on before he got on himself. He was a gentleman like that. They took a seat. He stopped talking. He was still fiddling with his phone. He was waiting for a text. She noticed that he was getting uncomfortable. She reignited the conversation. She encouraged him to talk. Secretly, she was seeking gossip. She wanted to judge him. But everything he was saying, made it harder for her to judge. Harder, not because she couldn’t judge him, but harder because he was so genuine she didn’t want to judge.
She taunted him. She was already all over him. She sat too close. She put her hand around him unnecessarily. She spoke so loud that he was sinking in his seat. Her loudness made people in the bus stare at them. She looked at those prying eyes in pride. He was undisturbed. He’d been used to her by now and all the attention she always attracts.
She looked out of the window and realised it was time to get off. She bid her bye and walked down the aisle. Just before she got off the bus, she turned around to say, “be safe and have fun with Sona”. He just couldn’t wait to get home where Sona was waiting.
Tomorrow will be just another day at work!