Just Emkaying: The Rose Girl

Sep 11, 2010

The Rose Girl

I wrapped up myself in my arms just so that I was comfortable in not making her uncomfortable. While the bus moved on out of Bangalore, she spoke to different people on the phone. Her voice was very soft, at the same time had the tone of a self confident girl, someone who could be quick to retort at the shortest signs of being rebuked or taken for granted. Reminded me of someone who was had just discovered independence, or had some sort of responsibility on her shoulders, a mini rebel, but a sweet one at that.

The ride was slated to be anything but comfortable, as is the case on most state highways. I had got my tickets a month back, and still only managed to get the last seat available. So I was guessing that she probably managed the seat at the very last moment. I also later realized that though the bus was the only direct bus to my town, it was not necessarily the preferred bus to her destination. The ride was bumpy from go, and on one particular instance, when the bus braked real hard, everyone flew in to the air, and I landed on to the floor. She let out an endearing giggle, like the ones you’d hear from a 5 year old girl when you ask- if she would be your girlfriend.

I was very conscious of her presence. She was very particular and engaged in what she was doing. Pull out the ear phones, and then place them exactly back. Pull out one scarf, fold the other exactly the same way and keep it back. Tie, retie and then retie hair until perfect. At one point, I got real concerned. She kept wrapping her self in sweaters and scarf’s .And then she had pulled out one of those inhalers which people with breathing problems have. Drop in a tablet, give it a nice good shake and then inhale through the small vent. She kept coughing for some time, and I was thinking what a lousy fiancé she must have. I wanted to ask the conductor for a better seat for the lady, but he had told me previously that he couldn’t upgrade me today. Just then she asked the guy on her left to keep the window slightly open. Very matter of factly actually.

I say fiancé, because the rings on her ring finger confused me. There wasn’t much light in the bus, but I could make out a plain ring and a ring with some kind of gem on it. She was wearing simple earrings, but no bangles. So maybe she just liked rings, or maybe she was engaged.

The perfume still lingered. Rose or whatever it was, it was a very sweet smell, something like that you’d get in those flower exhibitions when lots of roses would be sprinkled with water every now and then.

She curled on to the seat, almost like a baby would when it slept on the side. Wonder how girls manage to do that. I mean just crunch up like that. Over a period of time, she kept rocking, and the guy on my right side kept grunting. It became a strange cacophony of music, the bus roaring, the suspensions creaking, the guy grunting, the wind howling through the window, and of her rocking while her chair squeaked. And the lingering Rose fragrance.

It was around this time that I made a mental note, that my chances of falling asleep were slim.

After some time it became necessary for me to sit up straight in my seat. Both the arm rests were accounted for and I didn’t have any grip to keep my self from being launched into orbit every time the bus driver felt like hitting the gas pedal on a rough road. Every time she turned or moved, there was the whiff of rose in the air.

And then ever so gently, like a leaf in autumn falls on to the grass, she dozed off on my shoulder. She’d straighten up and then nod off on my shoulder again, I found it funny. After 15 attempts at keeping still, she just gave in and slept on my shoulder. Strangely, I felt comforted at that point of time, as I looked into the bus, my eyes accustomed to the semi darkness by now, of passengers sleeping in reclined seats, and a blurred reflection of a small figure resting on the shoulders of a large person in the glass of the drivers cabin. I couldn’t help but think of the person who should have been with me and resting on my shoulder at that point of time…

When her stop came, it was as if a robot had snapped into action. In 15 seconds, she was off her seat, bag in hand, sweater in place and hair all bunned. She was travelling for the first time on this bus, that’s for sure. I told her that the bus was going to stop at the bus stand for like 15min and there’s no hurry, but she brushed me aside with “I am just getting ready”

As she got down, I got down too. More out of curiosity than anything else, but she was already off in some direction, though I wasn’t sure if she knew where she was going. She was on the phone, but I could not sight anyone there who had come to pick her up. For a second I thought she might have run away from home, but that wasn’t like her. Soon she was lost in the drizzle, the darkness and the crowd.

As the bus moved on, I held on to the last of the rose fragrance, with only one thought. Would we meet again…

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