Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Bus Journey

Tushar hurried in the rain to catch the bus. He was muttering curses under his breath. It was imperative that he catch the bus, and it looked very likely at the moment that he would miss it. There were no autos or taxis to be seen anywhere. He had forgotten to bring his raincoat or umbrella which was why he was now wet to the bone, splashing through the knee deep water carrying his bag in his arms. At last , after what seemed like an eternity, he reached the bus stand. Thank God, his bus was still there.

Tushar climbed on to the bus, avoiding the angry stares of his fellow passengers, all looking at the person who had delayed all of them. 25 , 25 he muttered and found his seat. The aisle seat on the driver's side, third row from the back , the only empty seat in the whole bus. No sooner had he settled into his seat than the bus started.

Tushar hated onboard movies which was why he had opted for this bus, which never showed any. He also preferred the window seat , so he could stare outside. Unfortunately on this trip he had to make do with the aisle seat. He turned his head sideways , wanting to get a look at his neighbour. She was staring out of the bus - he could only see her silky smooth hair. Dressed in jeans and Tees. Tushar had never been the kind of guy who waits for the other person to start a conversation. Accordingly , he bent forward and said, "Hi, Iam Tushar".

She turned her head. Her face looked lovely - oval face with a dark complexion , perfectly sculpted , full lips and somehow hauntingly familiar. Her eyes were what struck him the most - deer's eyes. "Hello, Iam Priya", she replied, smiling in return. Thus encouraged, Tushar plunged recklessly ahead.

Priya was going to her hometown, she explained. A guy was coming over to see her. She had never even seen him, nor bothered to check out his picture that her parents had sent her.

"Why?", Tushar asked, surprised.

"Iam in love with another guy and am going to marry him. Why should I be bothered about a guy whom I have never met , who is coming to my place tomorrow to see me, whom Iam never going to marry anyway", Priya shot back, her face proudly defiant , her eyes sparkling.

Tushar felt as if a jolt of electricity had passed through him. For he remembered now why Priya's face had seemed so familiar. Hers had been among one of the photos his parents had sent to him, the girl he was going to meet tomorrow. Indecision gripped Tushar's heart. Should he tell Priya that he was the guy supposed to meet her tomorrow? How would she react then? 'No, better to keep quiet', Tushar thought. Still he felt a strange feeling of loss, for in that brief interval, he had come to like this lovely , smart girl.

Priya's phone rang. "My boyfriend", Priya said shyly. She turned her head and soon they were exchanging sweet nothings over the phone. The sound smote Tushar's heart. He tried hard not to listen and curled up to try and get some sleep. He woke up suddenly in the night. Something had woken him up. He looked around. The sight and sound of Priya sobbing shocked him. He was too embarassed to ask her. He would talk to her in the morning , he promised himself and went back to sleep.

When he woke up the sun was already high in the sky. He had overslept. He turned to Priya's seat and was disconcerted to see she was no longer there. Her stop had come and gone. He felt at a loss for words. Would he ever know why she had been crying? There was only one thing for him to do , the only decent thing. He could not go ahead with the proposal with a girl who so clearly loved another. He would tell his parents he was not interested in that girl , and then hopefully, Priya would have the life she dreamed about.

His parents reaction was typical and expected. They could not understand why Tushar was pulling out from the proposal at this late stage, when he had been so enthusiastic all along. But Tushar was adamant, and they had to give way. His father called up Priya's house and explained how they would not proceed with the proposal. Something to do with horoscope matching , Tushar's father mumbled over the phone. The rest of the day passed really slowly. His parents did not speak to him once. Tushar himself was happy that he had done the right thing by Priya, that she could now get married to the person she loved. As for his parents, time would soon bring them back to their normal selves.

He woke up early the next day , waited for his mother to bring him his cup of tea in bed , as she always did. She came and he was shocked to see her eyes were red. She had obviously been crying. She couldn’t look him in the eye, just flung the newspaper in his general direction. The news item was on the third page. A small three inch column. 'Jilted girl commits suicide' , went the headline. His eyes blurred as he read the news. Priya was dead. What had happened? He would never know. "I did the right thing", he wanted to scream , but he knew, in the eyes of his parents, Priya's parents , he would always be the person who had sent their daughter to her death.

1 comment:

Anurag said...

shit man..u write so well
u should come out with ur short stories or something
i was actually leaning towards my screen (partly due to the small font of ur blog but mainly due to the gripping story)

feel sorry for priya, but tushar did the right thing