I was late that day. Usually I am not one of those people who really genuinely and passionately likes to work their asses off in the office just to get registered in the good books of the bosses or sometimes they don’t want to get back home early just to escape from their clingy wives clutches.I was cool or at least I thought so!
My parents were hopeless from their only child which was unfortunately me and have stopped calling me except my birthdays simply because I never picked. Few ‘suttas’ and some beer bottles a day would keep me going. I considered shaving for totally uncool people and took personal pride whenever people threw those nasty stares at me and turned their noses up while narrowing their eyes. Well, you don’t need to use ‘poor baby’ for me as the carefully chosen black tee shirt and those stressed pair of jeans which were perhaps never washed and my sweat embedded body along with that silver chain with ‘A’ pendent served quite the purpose. I quite derived a sadistic pleasure from annoying people or shooing them away. Perhaps the zeal to live my life was lost just at the age of twenty four.
Anyway talking about that chain and ‘A’ pendent reminds me that I was not always the same. Well I cracked IIT just at my first attempt and got placed into a top MNC pretty easily and if you believe my parents that time they always felt like I am just close to inventing something great which was off- course not possible but you know parents and their hopes. So we drop it! But yeah, I was brilliant.With my 6ft tall frame I was a natural choice for my college basket ball team, I had constant 9 cgpas throughout my academic career and I also had a great fan followings with some pretty cool dance moves exclusively owned by me. And yes, I had a girlfriend too. She was one of the hottest girl in the campus and hooked up with me pretty easily. She sweared to be mine for rest of her life and we quite had some fun times together. She was hot man!
Soon we all graduated from our college and joined our dream jobs. Unfortunately in spite of my efforts me and my girl separated as our jobs were at different cities. Now can you believe that she cried for like an hour straight saying that she can’t live without me and she will always be mine right then I realised I really love her. Though my best friend and her were posted together so I was relaxed a bit. Life went well till the time I did not receive that MMS on my cell phone. What was so special about that ? Well it featured my best friend Rahul and my girl Anamika doing some tiring activities together and the background was totally filled with sounds like ‘Ohhhh!’ Yeaaahh’ and god knows what else because after some fifteen minutes I went numb.
That’s all and that is the end of my story. With my shattered ego and broken heart I turned into someone else. Rest of my well wishers tried hard to console me but the words friends , love, life would cause pain to me. Eventually I moved inside that shell I have created for myself and soon it became my new identity.
Though Life never ends to surprise you. Does it? The Gods were just not happy by that one wasted life in me I guess and how truly universe tries its best to show you the path and fill you with that super clingy feeling called ‘hope’ and make you believe again.
So that day I was late and I somehow managed to get into a DTC bus for getting back to my place. Though it was not much crowded but all the seats were already occupied except that last one seat beside that girl. WOW, the seat beside her was empty and I could totally encroach that seat. Like it was way better than sitting beside an oversized aunty or bald uncle. And honestly that girl was smoking hot, I guessed she was a newlywed with all those churas, a bit of vermillion and a sexy nose pin. ‘Ripe‘ Luck is not always a bitch man!
So I sat beside her making a thumping sound and without anything like ‘excuse me’ or ‘may I have a seat?’ These are for gentlemen. Hah!
She looked back at me and smiled. I gave her a very constipated smile in spite of wanting badly to talk to her. There was something about her kohl lined eyes and red lipstick coated smile. She perhaps sensed my uneasiness and said ” Hi I am Aarti.”
I was surprised or may be shocked to actually communicate with civilisation again so I said bluntly ” Yeah, yeah, I know. I am Samrat.”
Shit, now who talks like this to a girl? She seemed untouched with my attitude and said “Actually I just wanted to ask you to move a bit as you are sitting on my dupatta.”
Oh shit,! Darn! “Sure” “Sure” was all I could utter.
And after that silence engulfed that little space between us but I don’t know what but those kohl lined eyes seemed like hiding many stories to my heart and I decided to break that silence “hey, Aarti are you married?”
“Yeah, it’s just been six months.” And man she actually blushed saying that.
“Oh wow, congratulations! So what does he do?” I asked just to listen that voice some more.
” Ji he’s a shop keeper. He has this ‘kirana store” she said again.
“Wow that is great to own a shop at this age.” I said.
” Yes, yes. He is very hard working. just thirty five and see ,he already owns a shop.” She said happily.
What? Thirty Five? Perhaps she did not get my point. I asked her again ” So how old are you?”
” I am twenty two ji.” She replied happily.
“Oh, so he is thirteen year older to you”. God so such marriages still take place! Thirty five and married to a maal and here I am all so ruined to ashes at twenty four and not a girl at sight. Was all my sick mind could thought of that time.
“Yes but then love does not depend on any number,data or facts. Right ji.” She said.
“So it was a love marriage?” My curious mind was not letting me rest.
“No- no it was an arranged marriage and I was in college that time but now I have just given my last paper ji. So I am officially a college pass out I guess.” She laughed.
“What was the rush to get married then? I just meant you could have married after your exams.” I quickly added the second sentence to cover that highly non diplomatic first statement.
” I did not want to get married but he is a family friend and so when he proposed then my papa can not deny it. He had no money to marry me off as he spent all his money in my Mom’s sickness ji.” She said dimly this time.
Oh that was harsh man. I thought these things happen in movies only ‘a dying mom, poor dad and young pretty girl getting sacrificed’. Sad!
“Oh , how is she now and what has happened to her?” I asked.
” Cancer and she died one year back only.” She said slowly.
Now I was at loss of my words and I did not know what to say. We stopped talking. And then it occurred to me what is she doing alone at this time at DTC bus. So I asked her again.
” Where is your husband? Where are you going at this time alone.?”
“Well actually not going but returning from the hospital and my husband does not live with me anymore. So I shifted to my Papa’s place one month back and as papa was not feeling well today so he could not accompany me ji.” She sounded like she is narrating an absolutely usual and normal thing
I was shocked ” What do you mean by husband does not live with you. It’s just been six months to your marriage. Right?”
” Actually he could not keep up with my sickness and was scared. He thought he will also catch the disease and also he said he can not afford my sickness. So the best option for me is to return to my dad and so I returned. Either way there was no point dragging the relationship when one person is not so attach ji.” Again that annoying simplicity.
“What? But you look so happy and so…ummm I mean newlyweds type. What happened what disease?” I was on the verge of cracking now.
” Oh did not I tell you that I am also detected with cancer one months back. People say how unlucky I am to have cancer at this age but It’s not uncommon you see and children as young as five have cancers these days. So comparatively, I am at a much better state and see before dying I could also got to get married. Isn’t it great ji?” She beamed again.
My mind was spinning now and I was lost in the ocean of miseries of that happy girl sitting just beside me. How annoyingly she looked happy in spite of being the most miserable person on this planet right now. Like Mom is dead, Dad is struggling and a rascal husband has left her just because she’s been detected with one of those deadliest diseases on planet ‘cancer’. Unimaginable! I would have chose to rot or may even commit suicide after all that and here she is, dressed up all so perfectly, smiling and chirping enthusiastically to me.
” How can you even talk about your husband,your life, your mom and you life so happily?” I could not contain that any longer and asked slowly.
“Well I know it has happened and nothing is in my hands. I am giving my best to the circumstances and I know very well that my tears would not change anything so isn’t it good to make most of it while whatever little control I possess over my life. Why burden it any more when it is already struggling. It all creates a beautiful illusion around me and helps me move on everyday some more. As simple as that.” She giggled.
The bus stopped suddenly and she waved me bye with the brightest smile I have ever seen in my life till now and vanished in the darkness at the road. She left me wondering and awestruck. It was just not the seat beside her which was empty but also her life was but then too how simply she showed me the path and I realised how lucky I am and what a waste I have been till now. And that was it, end of all my self inflicted anger! The first thing I did was to call my mom and tell her sorry. I also promised my dad that I am back and nothing is going to shake me up any more.
My life changed again and for good now. Right now both my kids are playing right before me while my beautiful wife is pouring tea for me. Success is a very individual thing and I achieved it. Though I still wonder that ‘Was that girl real or was she an angel who chose to keep that seat empty beside her just to enlighten my life and save me’. The seat beside her was empty but the girl on the other seat filled my life again!