Friday, November 23, 2012

Soporific journeys

The first time he noticed her was when he passed on the log book and no one received it. He looked across the seat to see what was taking the other person so long to take the log book from him. And then he saw her. Her face was slightly inclined towards the left, like she was looking at something really cute and she was reacting to it with an exaggerated curiosity. Her head drooped forward regularly keeping rhythm with the jerks of the bus. Her mouth was slightly open. It took him some time to realize that people were looking at him because he was frozen mid air, in a weird half standing, half sitting posture, the log book in his hand, staring at the sleeping girl. He stretched his hand and passed the book to the guy sitting in the seat before hers.

He saw her again after a week. This time the window beside her was open. The light outside fell across her face every chance that it had. He wanted to see if she was awake today. So he pretended that he'd dropped his keys next to her seat and went close to where she was sitting. He looked closer at her and realized that she was asleep, again. She was still asleep when he got out of the bus.

The next day, he decided he'd go early and try to look at her when she was awake. He dint know why he had to do that. She wasn't even all that pretty. Plus, he'd never spoken to her. She might be a Twilight fan (oh, the horror!) Or worse, she might be a non vegetarian. He laughed to himself as he realized how much he was thinking about the girl he'd seen asleep, twice (he wanted to refer to her as the 'sleeping beauty' but it sounded quite cheesy). He waited with anticipation. For some reason, he remembered his first date when he had shared a Pepsi with his girlfriend.  (They were together for less than two weeks; he'd broken up with her when he found out that she hated the Harry Potter series without ever reading it). He was so lost in his nostalgia that he dint realize that the bus had started and that girl was nowhere to be found. It was disappointing. He'd even taken time to comb his hair properly.

He dint see her again for a few nights. As he walked towards the bus bay, he wondered if she was out on a vacation. Maybe she'd quit. Maybe something bad had happened to her. The thought filled him with some sort of panic. It was foolish to worry about someone he dint know. He went to his bus, Route 47, and got in just as the driver started the bus. And there she was, in the second seat, sleeping again.

He sat next to her. His heart was pounding and his lips felt dry. He sat very carefully so that she wouldn't be disturbed. The bus was an old one and creaked every now and then. But she dint stir. She breathed evenly, a few loose strands of her hair that carelessly fell on her face, bouncing ever so slightly as the great, old bus made its way through the night. He could smell her perfume, something lemony, citrus-y. She had a black backpack that she was hugging to her chest like a pillow. Now that he looked at her, she was very plain looking. He'd probably seen her a hundred times but never registered her face in his memory. She had no make up on, she dint seem too bothered about her appearance. She just looked... peaceful. All he could think of was waking her up and asking her what she dreamed about, asking her what kept her awake at nights. He wanted to hear her laugh. He wanted to hear her sing. It was weird... he wasn't really a romantic. He watched her sleep till the bus stopped and he had to get off the bus. He had an impulsive thought of staying on in the bus till she woke up and finding his way back home later. Then he realized how crazy it seemed, smiled to himself and got off the bus.

The next time he was on the bus, he was so busy reading Murakami's 'Norwegian Wood' that he dint realize who sat next to him. He couldn't recognize her awake. But it was her. She smiled at him as she kept her backpack between them. She glanced at the cover of the book and did not seem to recognize the author or the book. As the bus started, she started talking on her phone. He heard her voice, something he'd been waiting for. He heard about how scared she was living in her apartment all alone, how much she missed her mother. He heard her making plans to catch a movie on the weekend. He heard her make baby voices as she spoke to her pet dog. She paused abruptly and he had to stop himself from pretending to read. He casually glanced away from his book and found her looking right at him. She was holding her palm on her phone and asking him for his name. "Your name?" she said. He was momentarily taken aback. He just stared back at her like an idiot, not knowing how to react. Then she pointed at the log book on her lap. "I thought you shouldn't be disturbed while reading. I could fill in your entry too. So what's your name?" she asked. He mumbled his name and got back to his book. That was the last time he thought of her or spoke to her. He wasn't really the talkative kind...

P.S - I know it is too long but I'm hoping I built up the anticipation enough to justify the anti climax.
P.P.S - When I started out the story, a year ago almost, it was supposed to end on a romantic note. I guess I have changed quite a bit.