I got my internship in Pune. I was happy, my mom was worried and dad; like everything else had no reaction. Sometimes I wonder does he really have any emotions or maybe he was just happy that his son has grown big enough to stay alone in a strange city. We didn’t have even a single distant relative in Pune. So I had to stay by myself. And this was the reason why my mom was worried. On that I had never travelled alone before.
Before you start pitying on me, Pune is just 3 hours journey from my place and many people travel daily to and fro. I always wanted to stay in hostel. I use to see hostel students in my area roaming around with their girlfriends at 1 in the night. They could party all night with no one to stop them (at least from home), go and sleep on the beach, watch stars, play cricket with friends at night after dinner and of course if you are one of those lucky ones who had girlfriend living nearby, baby then it is paradise. In short complete independence. My dream was coming true.
It was 7 am in the morning and I was waiting for my bus. The tour guy said the bus will be on time but guess what? This is India. Yup you got it right bus came at 7.45am.
No no don’t assume I was pissed off, how can I be pissed off when a beautiful girl wearing a light blue jeans, a pink top with some graphical red heart drawing on it was standing just beside me.
She had those nice straight hairs; some of which fell on her face. Every time she put those hairs behind her ear, they slowly started falling again. Her lips were as if perfectly just out of Elle18 ad. No she wasn’t wearing any lipstick it was her natural lips.
And then those mystic eyes, OMG those eyes were more powerful than Cyclops (X-men) laser rays. They were not eyes, they were oceans, oceans where if a man entered once can never come out of it or may never want to come out of it.
I was deep in them, drowning in her beauty. It felt as if there was nothing else in this planet. Everything was fake and illusion. The only truth was ‘Her’.
With every passing moment I was falling deep and deep into that ocean. Now she no longer appeared as a girl to me, she was now a goddess for whom I could do anything.
Then suddenly something started vibrating in my pant. That was my cell phone; mom had called me to ask if I got the bus. That time I realised it was 7.30 and the bus was yet to come. For half an hour I was happily swimming in that mystic ocean. But now I was out of it. Back to my senses, and looking around I realized that I am not the only fool swimming in those ocean. Most of the people in the bus had their eyes fixed at one direction or you can say on one person. They were least disturbed by the fact that the bus was late. This made me understand why offices prefer having beautiful girls as receptionist because it becomes impossible for the man to look beyond that beautiful face and hence ignoring minor defects. Actually this is not what was going through my mind. I was thinking how come for last 12 years that I have been staying here never saw this girl.
And suddenly a sound came “are you also in bus no. 4468”.
My ticket was in my hand, I opened it and saw yes that was my bus no. too. I turned around to say yes and realized that it was her. Suddenly the earth under my feet moved and I couldn’t feel my tongue in my mouth. Actually I couldn’t feel anything at all. I was awestruck.
She looked at my ticket and said “yes you are”.
I was feeling dumb. I was cursing myself; a girl herself was coming from front and talking to me and I couldn’t even reply. Oh what a fool I was. I was thinking what she might be thinking about me. Maybe I was deaf and mute or a guy who doesn’t understand English. I had to do something because I was none. I started framing a sentence in my mind, it was my last chance and it was like a ‘do or die’ situation from me. I pleaded to God to please help me so that I don’t stammer in front of her. I finalised this sentence “the bus is too late”. I gathered all my courage and confidence and moved towards her, she was standing two steps away from me and was looking in front.
I said it.
No reaction, no reply. Was she deaf? I saw a wire coming out from her jeans going up and vanishing inside her long beautiful straight hair. She had her ear phones on. She hadn’t heard a word that I said. Duh!! What a waste of confidence and courage.
But I couldn’t give up, I had to tell her that but how would I call her. Should I touch her? No. What would she think? Should I wave my hand in front of her face? No would make me look like an idiot.
I decided to wait for her till she looks in my direction. I had to boost up my confidence again and this time even timing was important.
She turned and I said it again, may be at the speed of light as I myself didn’t understand what I had just said. Luckily she didn’t hear anything due to her ear phones. She just understood that I said something as my lips moved. She removed a head phone from one ear and said “Excuse me, did u say something”.
I said in my mind, ‘last chance boy’.
I said “You are beautiful”. She was shocked and so was I. This was not what I was supposed to say.
She nodded her head, did not say anything, put back her ear phones and went back looking in the opposite direction.
I looked away from her and never tried to look back at her. I was cursing myself-what a fool, what an idiot, couldn’t even say five words properly. I looked up asking God why does this always happen to me?
She might be thinking – what kind of downgraded guy I am, flirting with a stranger within minutes of meeting. Well I did not blame her but I did not lie, she was beautiful. Just it was not politically correct to tell her.
I felt uncomfortable standing by her. It was kind of awkward feeling. I just wanted to run away from the scenario. I wanted the bus to come fast. I was going impatient. Now even one second was like decades. Suddenly as if the watch had stopped moving. Adding to the problem, those beautiful mystic eyes of hers were attracting me with immeasurable force. But my brain was shouting you can’t look at her especially after that ridiculous act. It was short off self punishment for me.
Finally the bus arrived and I got in quick. It was a luxury Volvo bus. I got to my window seat and noticed that the seat next to mine was empty. I stretched my seat, put my ear phones and closed my eyes in an effort to go to sleep. Those minutes were hovering in my head, making me feel bad about my act. I was thinking had I spoken to her properly we could have been friends. On the way, in the bus I could have got to know her. And we might have even got to exchange numbers. She, like me, might also be going to Pune for the first time with no friends there. We both could have become good friends. We could have met in the evenings after my office and her college (I was assuming she went to college). And maybe after some meetings over coffee and movies, she might have realised what a nice guy I am and finally fall for me. And then we both in love could have lived happily ever after.
Suddenly I woke up from my dream land. It was my stomach. I was feeling hungry. I didn’t have anything from morning. Remember I had my bus at 7am and I had to be on time. I woke up at 6am, ignoring my alarm, which was set at 5am.To my shock I realised that I was yet to pack. Mom told me to pack the night before but I was busy meeting my friends before going to Pune. I called my mom helplessly and told her that I hadn’t packed yet and I had to leave in an hour.
She gave me one of those looks that never makes me feel good. She said “Thank your God that I am still alive”.
Mom had packed my bag last night itself. I think she knew this was going to happen. After all she knows me better than anyone else. Even without packing I did not have much time in hand, I had to brush, go to washroom, have a bath and dress up, at least these are the things that my mom can’t do for me and I had to do it myself. It was 6.45am and it takes 15 minutes for me to reach bus stand from my place. Mom got up at 5 o’clock to make breakfast for me but I didn’t have the time to have it. I left without having anything. Sometimes we take our mom’s love for granted.
Where was I? Yaa I just woke up and looked outside. The bus was just entering Lonavala. Lonavala was half way to Pune and the bus was having a stop there. While I was thinking that I could finally feed my hungry stomach in few moments, I suddenly froze. I turned slowly to my side to check what I thought I saw was true or not. To my horror it was, it was her.
She was seating in my next seat all this time. She was sleeping. She was looking really cute just like a baby. Staring at her face, it seemed like she is the most beautiful thing on this planet. I wished if time could have come to a standstill and for eternal life it stayed this way.
By this time I had forgotten about my hunger and Lonavala but the bus driver did not.
Bus reached Lonavala and stopped, while I was still admiring her beauty. She opened her eyes and our eyes met. She caught me staring at her and I went blank. I did not know what to do. I started looking up and down and finally opened my cell and started doing something; only god knows what.
After some time I peeked from my corner of my eyes to see if she was still there. She was gone and I breathed a sigh of relief. I went to the food stall had some food and got a bottle of Frooti on my way back to bus. When I came to sit on my seat, I saw her sitting on it. She (with her mystic eyes) looked at me and said “Can sit at the window seat?” I thought; are you kidding me, you want both the seats take it, you want the whole bus, you want the whole express-way, you want the whole earth take it. Take whatever you want, everything is yours.
I said “yes”.
I sat next to her on her seat. I was happy; at last I could reply something properly.
I peeked from the corner of my eyes to see what she was doing. She was looking out of the window. I couldn’t sleep any more. I was playing in my cell. I was waiting for her to go to sleep so that I could get my moments of admiring her beauty back. But she was also not sleeping.
I felt a light patting on my shoulder; I paused my game and turned to her. Her touch, even though on my shirt, made feel as if I am in the 7th heaven. But this time around I was much more composed. The success of saying ‘Yes’ made me much more confident.
She said “Do you have water?”
I said “No”. I was feeling bad that I couldn’t fulfil her wish. After a moment pause I realised I have a bottle of Frooti.
I said “I have Frooti”.
She said “ok, it will do”.
After drinking my Frooti, she said “thanks”.
I said “Welcome”.
After this little conversation I was getting comfortable and my brain was getting back to normal state. I decided to apologise to her for my behaviour in the morning. She was texting on her cell and I said “sorry”.
She looked at me and said “why”.
I said “I did not mean what I said in the morning, it was just a slip of tongue”.
She said “What do you mean? Am I not beautiful?”
I was completely taken aback, I was not expecting this reply.
I said “No. I didn’t mean that exactly”.
She said “What did you mean then?”
I did not have an answer. What should I tell her? After some moments of thinking
I said “Of course you are beautiful, but actually…”
“Actually what?” she said even before I completed my sentence.
I said “But at that time I wanted to say something else”.
She asked “What?”
I said “I was going say that the bus was too late”
She said “Yaa, (looking worried) somebody is coming to pick me up. I am going to Pune for the first time; I don’t know anything about Pune. How much time more will it take?”
I said “more than half an hour” while on other hand ‘first time in Pune’ got highlighted in my head. One part of my dream had come true.
She said “poor chap has already reached bus stop. Let me text him that I will be late”.
I asked “Do you have any friends in Pune?”
She said “No” while texting.
Suddenly I was jumping with happiness inside. Another part of my dream had come true. My dream of being in love and happily living ever after with her can come true. It seemed possible now. Why did she ask if I was in the same bus? Why did she ask for water from me? Why was she insistent on asking me if she was beautiful or not?
It seemed even she liked me. She was just giving me chance to talk to her. I had never been happier.
To continue our conversation I asked “Why you going to Pune?”
She said “To meet my boyfriend” still looking and typing in her cell.
Hell broke loose on me. I couldn’t believe my ears.
I asked to confirm if I heard right. “Is your boy friend waiting at the bus stop?”
She said “Yes, actually I am from Bangalore and so is he. He got a new job in Pune and moved here last month and my cousin sister stays here. I told my parents that I am going to meet my cousin sister but actually I will get to meet him”.
My whole body went numb, my dream shattered into pieces. I felt like crying, the whole world looked meaningless to me, I looked up (whoever I saw the ceiling of the bus, but I was imaginarily looking at the sky, looking at God) and asked “Why?”
I looked at her, she was happily texting. May be she was entertaining her boyfriend, who was waiting at the bus stop.
How could I over look the fact that someone was waiting for her, after all she was not going to be alone like me. I never saw her before because she wasn’t from here. All those questions were genuine questions and did not mean anything else.
I put my ear phones back and started searching for a senti song in my playlist.
We reached Pune and we got down. She said “Bye” and I returned the favour. She started walking away from me. She was going straight to the boy who was wearing a white shirt. I understood that it was him by his smile on his face. She did not even look back once. I didn’t even know her name.
She hugged him. I turned around; my heart was not strong enough to see anything more. Everything was appearing gloomy to me.
I went to an auto rickshawwala and told him the address where I had to go.
He told me “400 bucks”. I looked at him sternly. I thought I was still in my dream world and did not hear properly, he might have said 40 bucks.
I asked him again “kitna (how much)”?
He said “400, aaj pura Maharashtra auto bandh hai. Kahi auto nahi milega. Main risk leke jaa raha hu (400, today is whole state auto strike. Won’t get auto anywhere, I am taking a risk by taking you)”
Suddenly I fell from my emotional and senti world straight into reality. I had come almost 200km in an a/c bus in just 250 bucks and now I had to pay 400 bucks for just 5km ride. This was ridiculous.
Welcome to Pune.