As was his routine for the past few weeks, he waited for her expectantly at his usual position near the bus stop. ‘ The month of March has always been the most grueling, ‘ he concluded, as a drop of sweat trickled down his temple. The scorching rays showered by the ever blazing sun, sans mercy, shrouded a needle sharp blanket over the earth. To add to the inconvenience, a gush of sultry humid breeze would swish its way past the people at regular intervals of time.
It was the busiest time of the day – the morning hours when people scurried fast in groups for their work. He registered in amusement that the events that unwound around him daily had an unerringly etched out pattern. The restaurant run by Kalaam, the one at the junction, which flocked the most number of customers, would be the first to signal its functioning. The deafening metallic shriek of the rotten shutter made sure that any one in half a kilometer vicinity were notified of the hotel’s availability, the first thing in the morning without fail. He was aware of this fact, for he was always the first customer to savour a share of food from the hotel.
The telephone booth run by the raspy voiced man who reeked of alcohol any time of the day opened next. He despised the tone of nastiness that outweighed that man’s sarcasm, whenever he called out to him and said, ” Why do you keep focussing on this junction Raghu ?. I am sure that you are jinxed. My customers are dropping day after day! ” .
Raghu coughed out loud as the smoke which was propelled out from the bus which came to a screeching stop at the bus stop choked his nostrils.
‘ Where is she ? ‘. He felt a whirlpool of emotions somersaulting inside his head.
She was working as a sales girl at the nearby textile shop. That much he knew for once he happened to overhear that detail while she was talking to her friend. Every time she passed by her, his otherwise numb brain cells seemed to be blossoming by the mere fragrance of her scent. Her voice was mellifluous, sounding young and her speech, deeply enriched with the sweetest of notes. The fact that the wild clutter of her glass bangles soothened his ears much more than the innocent chuckle of a baby intrigued him for he was well past his prime in the ledger of age roll. He never deserved to fall for a girl that divine as her. Yet, she mattered to him the most, he knew.
His emotional connect with the girl started blooming one fine day when she offered to lend him a hand seeing him in a meddled scenario. Since that day, without fail, she used to pause at him to share a word with him in her usual enigmatic voice. The emotional chord that connected him to her strengthened as this daily routine of her’s started intriguing him. Gradually, before he knew, she was everything to him. An affectionate mother, a playful sister, a loving wife, every worthy relation that he was forced to live without. She opened to him an enchanting world of never ending love to quench his parched life – all with those few words sprinkled with compassion.
Meantime, a few kilometeres from the town, Sita was worried beyond limits. She checked her watch impatiently. “ I am late ! ” Sita thought in utter despair.
Being late for her job was simply something she couldn’t dare to do , especially when she was offered a salary hike for her flawless service at the textile shop. The last few weeks had been strange. As if the angel finally decided to cocoon her with all sorts of blessings, luck had been approaching her from every untapped crevice of her life. Having tasted the bitter phase of life Sita never expected much from her life. With an ailing mother to look after, she weaved little dreams for herself. Quite unexpectedly now, with her shop offering her a promotion as the one of the heads of the sales section, her future was turning to be rosier, for once in her otherwise thorny life . The employee whose position she was taking over, was expelled for being up in news for his nefarious deed of trying to trade his one month old baby for a lump some amount of money. Hard to believe such monsters even existed, Sita had opined on hearing the news. But then, ‘ Truth is stranger than fiction ‘ isnt ?. She remembered recalling a proverb the next moment that she had learnt way back in her school days. Truth was definitely stranger. Miraculous at times, devastating at other times.
Fifteen minutes later, Sita scampered her way though the crowded bus, the travelers yielding away from their uncomfortable, yet unavoidable embraces, and alighted the bus when it paused at her stop.
To know the rest of the story, keep waiting. An improvised, altered version of this story is going to be part of an anthology!