The bus stop was busy with early morning bustling passengers and overcrowded buses. The weather was chilly with the rain clouds threatening to cover the blue sky. The noise on the road increased every time an impatient driver honked hard to shoo away people in the way of his bus. All the buses moved hurriedly in order to not become a victim of the rain. People were hurrying to either board the buses or take shelter somewhere. Even a group of dogs sat in a secluded corner which the crowd ignored.
Amidst the chaos, a bus coming rashly down the highway moved towards the bus stop. It stopped with a screeching sound of brakes and out came Mina. She wore a sleeve-less white top with deep blue jeans and carried a laptop bag on her shoulders. One of her hands had a posh handbag whereas she extended the other hand towards the conductor when her feet had firmly touched the ground. He passed a suitcase to her. The driver hit on the accelerator and the bus moved with a sudden jerk that threw half of the passengers backwards inside the bus. Mina dragged her luggage till she reached a corner beside a vendor making sugar-cane juice. She took out her mobile and sent a message.
“hey, I hv rchd d stop.
earlier dan u expctd:):)
no traffic on d road! So,
hv u started yet or nt??”
She waited for a whole minute staring at the crowd before she got a reply.
“omg! hw d hell so early??
i m still in d meeting:(
Mina was disappointed. She had a late night journey in a train, a suffocating bus ride from the station which had made her close to feeling sick. And when she had finally reached the destination, her best friend was too busy to pick her up. But she had an inkling that something like this would happen. It always does when she is journeying. Either her bus breaks down or her train is hours late. One time, she encountered a minor accident while riding in a cab that got bumped from behind by a truck. So she had gotten used to all kinds of unexpected catastrophes. And they came when she least expected it. Having gained enough experience at hand, she knew how to deal with it.
Feeling exhausted, she was wondering what to do next when a loud thunder in the sky alerted her. She got hold of her suitcase and was about to go for a shelter when her mobile vibrated. It was again a message.
“i m really sorry! but it wl
take 10 mins fr me 2 start!!
till den, y don’t u eat somthng?
I wl b der ASAP. promise!”
Feeling that eating would not be a bad idea, she started walking, her hand and shoulders stiff with the heavy luggage. Her suitcase came in the way of many passengers, who grumbled and stared back furiously. There were many potholes on the road which was very hard to avoid. Panting slightly, she managed to drag her belongings smartly avoiding all the mess on the road including cow dung. When she had put some distance between herself and the bus stop, it started to rain slowly. Why she hadn’t brought an umbrella with her, she wondered angrily. Now she didn’t want to get soaked in rain with her precious belongings! Several people ran towards shops to stand at the entrance. Mina decided to move into a shop in front of her which was already overcrowded due to stranded people. She raced towards it with all her strength she could muster. Suddenly, her right leg got stuck in a pothole and she fell. Shocked and splattered with mud on her favourite jeans, she became frustrated. She stood up, balanced herself and started to walk again, a little carefully than usual and crossed the road. She had just gone 2 feet more when a motorbike went zooming past her, nearly avoiding a collision with her.
“Oi…………..…IDIOT” Mina shouted angrily at the bike.
The man on the bike did not seem to care about any kinds of collision but heard her words clearly. He stopped at a distance and looked back. He turned his bike 180 degrees and came back to her. Mina was scathing with anger. Her hands were balled up in fists, ready for a fight. Words failed her when the bike reached and stood beside her. The man flapped open his helmet and stared at the furious girl who had dared to call him an idiot.
“I am sorry. But what did you just call me?” the man asked, his own temper rising with every uttered word.
“I called you an idiot! Is this the way you ride your damn bike? Do you even keep your eyes open? It could have hit me! It was just about to collide with me” Mina said angrily.
“Oh!” his brows shot up as he realized his mistake. He looked offended at the girl’s outburst but he saw that it was all his doing. Or his bike’s rather.
“What oh?!” Mina snapped
“I mean…..I am sorry. I was lost in my own thoughts and did not realize that I was going to hit you. I was so deep in thinking. I shouldn’t have...I mean…please, sorry” the man pleaded earnestly and got down from the bike.
Mina looked around and saw many curious faces looking at the pair of them as if they provided some kind of entertainment to them. And all of a sudden, it started raining heavily. It had gained momentum. Becoming self-conscious, Mina picked up her luggage and turned to go into the shop only to realize that it had become full. She scowled and looked around for some other shelter. Seeing the girl’s helplessness, the man came forward.
“Look, let me help you. This place is done. You will not find any place to stand here. But there is a restaurant here nearby. You can go there. I can take you. Come” the man pleaded.
“No, thanks” Mina remained dignified.
She was basically cursing her best friend for not coming in time to pick her up. Then all this mess wouldn’t have happened anyway.
“Please, I’ll feel better. Anyway, you are getting wet in the rain. And your luggage as well. Look” the man said hurriedly while trying to protect his face from the falling rain drops by his helmet.
Mina was left with no choice. She gave in gracefully after arguing with the man over riding his bike.
“How will my suitcase come on your bike?” Mina asked while lifting her handbag above her head to stop the rain falling on her face.
The rain drops came crashing on their bodies. The man seemed to have forgotten about his bike which was getting wet.
He nodded and stopped a passing auto rickshaw. Taking the advantage of the situation, the driver demanded a very high fare while Mina sat inside with her luggage. Mina protested but the man quickly placed some cash in the driver’s hand. Mina couldn’t see how much it was but that amount made the driver’s eyes round with astonishment. He gulped and looked extremely happy. Before Mina could do or say anything, the driver moved his auto at a breakneck speed. She was lost in wonder at the man’s behaviour. She tried to look back at the road but only saw the place getting washed in the heavy rain. She could not make out anything.
Suddenly the auto came to a stop after a few seconds. Mina blinked and watched around her. There was an outline of a restaurant to her left. The place was bright with lights and lots of people munching away hungrily on tables. The smell of delicious food prepared in its kitchen was filled in the air. Mina realized how much hungry she had been! She got out of the auto and hurriedly went towards the entrance. The driver brought her suitcase and passed it to her, too happy to have been blessed with a lot of cash in advance. He didn’t mind to get drown in rain for helping his precious passenger now.
“Shall I wait here to take you back, madam?” the driver asked enthusiastically.
“No, no….there’s no need. You can go” Mina was surprised at the over grateful driver.
“I can wait here. You can come back whenever you want” the driver insisted.
“I have someone already to take me back. So, please you go” Mina admitted.
The driver’s face fell and he went away in his auto. Mina entered inside the warm place, looking like a lost soul. Her jeans had become muddy and her shoes were squeaking with every step she took. Her suitcase felt heavier after getting wet in the rain. She longed to get rid of it. The place was completely packed with cheerful faces, children eating hungrily and waiters taking orders. Nobody wanted to get out in the rain. Everyone seemed hell bent on remaining inside the cozy room that not only provided a dry place but also satisfied their hunger and thirst. Mina craned her neck and found an empty table in the far end beside a small palm tree. She raced towards it before someone else could occupy it. She sat on one of the two seats and finally put down her suitcase and laptop bag on the dry floor. She pulled out some napkins kept on the table and tried to clean her face and hands. A waiter appeared out of nowhere and stood infront of her ready to take her orders.
Mina felt slightly jealous on seeing his clean and dry clothes.
“umm……..1 cup tea please” Mina said in a low voice.
“Anything else?” the waiter asked patiently.
“Later…but first bring the tea” Mina replied.
When the waiter went away, Mina put her head down on her arm. She felt too tired to move an inch.
“Are you OK?” said a concerned voice.
Her head snapped up, astounded on hearing that familiar voice. The man was standing beside her chair. He smiled on seeing her surprised expression
To be continued…….