The girl who sat next to me – Part-1

Posted: April 22, 2012 in Cricket
Tags: ,

Night show of the movie that I so badly wanted to watch was running to packed houses in the Cineplex just beside the place where my bus was stationed. But I couldn’t watch it because I had to go home the very night.

I got on the Bangalore to Chennai bus with my baggage. The cleaner boy wanted me to hand over the bag to him so that he can shove it with other luggage somewhere beneath the bus. I was adamant in having the bag with me.

“It will block the AC saar”

“It’s a bag pack. How much AC is it gonna block. It’s ok I’ll have it” I said adamantly.

“Chodo Chottu” said the driver. Only after that Chottu allowed me to get into the bus.

I took my diary to write about the days happenings. I kept my bag pack cautiously in the above shelf and opened the diary.

“Saar tickets” in came the boy and annoyed me yet again. I took my cell phone and showed my m-ticket.

“Vikram M N, 29, theekhaesaar.” I was happy as he said my age because I would be turning 30 in about an hour.

He ticked my name in the name sheet that he had and went to other passengers to check ticket, calling out “Saar tickets” and “madam tickets” in exactly the same tone.

It was about 11’o clock. Bus should have started by then but it didn’t as someone had asked the driver to wait as he or she was stuck in the traffic jam. Everyone knows about Bangalore traffic jam. I used that time to write diary. I don’t sleep without writing diary. Whatever may be the case.

I opened my diary to write. As it was Sunday there was space constraint. Most of the diaries don’t have a full dedicated page for Sundays. But I felt it was better as I didn’t have much to write. I hurriedly scribbled as the guy whom we were waiting for came.

–          Good day here with colleagues but can’t wait to go back home.

–          Bangalore seems to be cool in every way but my heart just doesn’t allow me to settle here. I’ve to take a decision soon.

–          And I’m going to turn 30 in an hour. Mixed feelings.

I closed my diary as soon as the driver hit the pedal. The bus started at 11:15. 15 minutes late of the scheduled time. The driver switched off all the lights except a couple of yellow fluorescent lights of which one was above my head. It didn’t stop me from sleeping though. I pushed back my seat back and fell asleep in 5 minutes flat.

After some time I felt the momentum declining. I opened my eyes as the driver had put on all the lights. The bus stopped for someone at Marathahalli. I boarded the bus only after they assured me it’s a non-stop bus but it was not the case. Just in half an hour the driver switched on the lights. I hated it. I closed my eyelids tightly and went back to my slumber.

I felt my seat shaking a beat.

“Rashmi Ranganathan, 27, ok madam” the cleaner boy said and went away. Just out of curiosity to know who it was I slowly opened my eyes.

My head was slightly tilted to my left. I opened my eyes but I couldn’t see her face first up as my seat was pushed back a bit and her seat was erect so I could only see… ok I couldn’t see her face first up. I sat erect in my seat and saw her. Though her face wasn’t clearly visible I could see that her eyes were moist. The fluorescent lamp reflected her-about-to-be-shed-anytime tears.

As someone who doesn’t like to see anyone unhappy I sat upright to strike a conversation. More than that I wanted to know what made her unhappy. She was checking for something in her handbag. She definitely didn’t look like a girl of 27 or maybe I’ve grown old so I didn’t feel like that, she looked a lot younger. She was wearing yellow salwar, mega sleeves. I couldn’t say whether it was low neck or not but the cut was somewhat lower than what my wife wears. She had a gold chain with a leaf shaped pendant which rightly fitted in the V. The yellow fluorescent light added glitz to her attire.

“Hi Rashmi I’m Vikram” I introduced myself to her. She didn’t ask me how I knew her name. She wasn’t in a mood for all those I guessed.

She said ‘hi’ trying to mask her tears. She seemed to be social. She gave a pleasant smile.

“It’s going to be my birthday in 15 minutes”

“Oh ok! Advance birthday wishes” she said and turned to the other side. She was finding it increasingly difficult to stop crying.

“I know I’m quite annoying but I don’t want to see someone sitting next to me shed tears”

“It’s nothing Sir” said she.

“You can call me Vikram. I’m just 2 years elder to you. But in 2 minutes I’ll be three years elder to you. Poor me” I tried to cheer up.

She gave a small laugh. My first success.

I continued talking to her, “you know what, it really feels awkward to know that I’m going to get out of my 20’s in a couple of minutes. From here on I won’t be considered cool, no one will laugh for my joke even if it’s good. This twenty something fellas will mock me. The late 30 fellas won’t consider me as serious enough. I’ve my first strand of grey hair in my left side burn. You see here it is.” I pointed them out to her.

“Things were lot better when I was in my 20’s when my only aim was to impress girls. But yeah we are never going to be satisfied with the present. Even 30’s will look good when I retire”

The clock struck twelve. I got a happy birthday message from a dear one. “Hey its 12 wish me happy birthday” I said to Rashmi.

“Hah. Many more happy returns of the day” She said and smiled yet again. I was slowly changing her mood. I could sense that.

“See you look a lot better when you smile. Not that you look bad when you cry” I said and laughed for which I didn’t see any change in her expression.

“Oh yea I’m 30 people won’t laugh for my joke” I pointed my finger at me and said “Vikram, understand you’re not a dude anymore”

“It’s not that. I’m not in a mood to laugh. I’m sorry I don’t want to spoil your birthday”

“It’s ok you can share it with me. You’ll feel better and I’ll fell happy of reducing your burden”

“It’s ok Vikram. At the moment I just can’t”

“Ok no problem. I hope it’s not a love failure. Because it couldn’t have been worse than mine”

She didn’t reply. “You’d like to hear my story?” I asked her but before she could think of a reply I started narrating by story.

“From where shall I start? Hmm the first meet. No! Every love story starts with the first meet I’ll start with my break up. Not actually a break up though. Shall I start?” I asked her. She gave me an understanding nod.

“Hmm it was some 8 years back or to be more precise 7 years back. My love Neema, I had gone to her house to propose but I came back without doing so”

At this juncture I wanted her to ask the question ‘Why?’ which she exactly did. “Why so?” she asked.

“Why, because of inferiority complex”

“Inferiority complex?”

“Ya inferiority complex. She looks very beautiful so I was afraid to go and propose”

She was now intently listening. “Till then I used to be friends with her but after that I slowly started avoiding her. I knew that it’s not going to happen so I totally lost touch with her”

“Our probation period got over at the same time. It feels clichéd to say this. I was busy with the project and she went on site. Clients were very impressed with her work so they asked her to come there for work”

“You know her English is damn good with accent and all. She talks like a foreigner. One of the reasons I fell for her”

“Before she went she gave us all a treat. It was a strictly formal one. We went to cake shop cut cake had some snacks and bid her adieu”

“A couple of years she was on site. Minneapolis. You know Minneapolis?” I asked her.

She nodded. At the time Neema had gone there I had to Google to know where it was.

“She came back to office after a couple of years. After a long time I found her online that day. I had totally forgotten her by then”

—–

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