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Encounters of the Close Kind

By: sydbarett Posted Feb 13, 2014 TIC 800 Views

It was raining cat and dogs. But I didnt mind. My schoolbag was waterproof and getting wet was a song. Also, those days you didnt have a mobile to worry about. But there was a problem. I had to travel on my schoolbus for three quarters of an hour and wet clothes werent exactly the gear for a bus swarming with smelly / dirty schoolkids. But like it or not, here I was - drenched from head to toe, jampacked in my schoolbus with my co-passengers being so liberal with nudges, pushes and shoves that "izzat bachana" took some doing.


Slowly but surely I found myself parceled, propelled and delivered right in front of this Girl I had a huge crush on. Lets call her PP, shall we? Now PP was the kinda girl who you come across only once or twice in your lifetime - that perfect blend of elements just the way you want them. Something like Estella out of Great Expectations. Good looking to the point of being stunning, intelligent to the point of being scary and proud to the point of putting peacocks to shame. And if this wasnt enough, she even sported spectacles and wore a stick of clove in her pierced nose. That stick of clove really was a death nail on me heart.


She was a couple of years older and was in grade 10. I suppose this was going to be her last year in school. I was already having a hard time reconciling with the fact. It really was kinda do-or-die situation for me. Not that I harboured any lofty hopes. Just that if ever I wished to rid myself of my'highbrow' and give myself a fair chance, now was the time. I stood there, a thousand thoughts crossing my mind and leaving it quivering.


But as they say every Dog has his day and perhaps this was mine. And I was caught completely unawares. She did something very outrageous - offered to keep my schoolbag. For a moment it was all openmouth for those who had taken notice. This was unimaginable. I'm sure I'd never have given her the bag had I got access to a second of my otherwise Holmesian cold reasoning. But when the offer came, Holmes was on a holiday. So I found my trembling hands eagerly unloading and passing on the 'pitara' to her. Suddenly Life was worth living.


Now if you have ever been an adult in the 80s you'd know what conservatism means. Boys and girls were so irrevocably segregated that even exchange of a meaningful glance could start a war much like the beauty of Helen of Troy allegedly did. It took me a few minutes to realise that half of the bus was eyeing me. And the other half couldnt since I wasnt visible to them. I could feel the anger and jealousy seething from many quarters. My friend who was sandwiched a couple of feet away, suddenly started to get cheeky.


"Roop tera mastana, pyaar mera deewana." - he started singing in a low tone, barely high enough for us to hear. The fellow had this uncanny habit of coming out with the most opportune song for any moment. And he was doing his best to make his presence count. I was scared the girl would explode anytime and I would end up losing those 25-30 minutes of eternal bliss. I felt like knocking him down but a couple of guys stood between us. Thankfully, PP didnt say anything. Just continued to look on.


I was no Kaka but those few minutes made me realise what the song truly meant. I felt light as a hot air balloon. Chemicals surged between the walls of my body like water on seaside. Heart was pounding like a hammer. I tried my best not to look at her. But it was getting darned difficult. Couldnt resist stealing a few glances every now and then. Meanwhile the guys standing around me were upto their methods, pushing me hard with sudden jerks. I stood there like the Rock of Gibraltar, never once coming within half a feet of her.


Once in a while our eyes would meet. She would smile. Of course I couldnt smile back. Even if I wanted to. Beads of fluid were running down the tip of my nose. And it was difficult to say how much of it was rain and how much perspiration. It was status quo for the next fifteen minutes after which people started to get down and the bus gradually became less crowded. It was time I got engulfed in my worst fears. Soon a seat would get empty and I'll have to fall back to earth with a big thud.


I was hoping to run into a traffic jam but boy I was "misfortune" incarnate. Nothing of the sort happened. But sure enough, soon the emptying of seats started. One of my acquaintances motioned me to take the seat. I glowered back menacingly. The guy took the cue and quickly murmured - "chal chhod, ab to utarne ka time aa gaya". I was expecting PP to hand over the Bag to me any moment. In fact my mind was already at work as to where I'd keep the bag, now that it had acquired "National Heritage" status. But no, she wouldnt budge. Maybe she didnt notice the empty seat, I told myself.


Soon there were quite a few empty seats, one just in the row next to next. She couldnt possibly have missed it. But she did seem to. At the moment my mind was dreadfully torn up between celebrating my good luck and rueing that this could all end soon. Mine was the second last stoppage and hers the third last. I took a few deep sighs and stole a last look at her. I was past caring now, busy relishing whatever little time was left. Suddenly I wasnt greedy for more, content with my quota of good luck for the day(or maybe a lifetime.). Even if nothing came of this, I knew I'd be talk of town tomorrow.


As the bus approached her stop, she rose slowly, handing me over my bag and hanging her elbows in fashion I thought was most bizarre. As she scraped past me to the door, I thought I could see a few shreds of her skirt cloth hanging behind her forearms. Later I learnt she had accidentally torn off her skirt and hadnt brought her bag with her since it was pre-board exams that day. She needed a bag and she took mine.


Takeaways - You tell me. For me it was "SEENE MEIN JALAN, AANKHON MEIN TOOFAN SA KYUN HAI .":-P


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