Thursday, January 10, 2013

Friday Fiction: The Late Hour At The Bus Stop


She was late and it was a dark night. She half-jogged out of the office towards the nearest bus stop, hoping to catch a bus without waiting for too long. 9 pm wouldn't be considered late technically; it was just that she hadn't stayed back so late in a long time. She tried to calm herself down with the thought that she had done this before.

The road seemed unusually quiet that night. Maybe she was imagining it. The bus stop was in sight and it was in some sense a relief that no one was on the road; she wouldn't have to watch for any stalkers following her. She reached the bus stop and was surprised to find a middle-aged man standing at the other end. He looked at her for a fleeting second before looking away and staring at nothing in particular. She stopped in her tracks and stayed at her end of the bus stop, simultaneously sizing the man up. He looked like a regular beat-up guy, probably middle-class, with his untucked half-sleeved shirt and loose trousers that looked rather old. Was it a white shirt or pale blue? She couldn't tell in the sodium vapour lamp’s all pervading orange hue. He looked a little tired from the face. His chappals looked worn out too and he had a slight paunch. She figured he wouldn't be able to run too fast, even if he decided to do something. She was anxious, she realized. She just hope the bus would come by soon.

The minutes seemed long and she was tapping her foot impatiently before she noticed how much noise it was making in the quiet. So she stopped. She just kept looking in all directions, checking on the bus now and on the man in between. He hadn't moved and he didn't seem to care she was there. She felt herself relaxing, but only very little.

Just then, as she looked out to see if the bus was turning the corner, she noticed a bike come onto the road slowly. It was one of those RX100s; its peculiar sound even more prominent in the quiet. As the bike neared she saw two lanky young men on it. They seemed to be whiling away time, the pace at which they were riding. And then they saw her. And they saw her seeing them. She looked away instantly, filled with even more anxiety than before. And she suddenly noticed that the man had started moving towards her slowly. She began to panic. Could they all be in this together? Should she scream? Who would hear her? Who would help if they were all together? Should she ask him to stop? What use would that be? Should she feign ignorance? What was her back up plan? They had a bike and would surely chase her even if this man couldn't run fast enough. She blanked out in panic and just froze on the spot waiting for her fate.

The man was now almost standing next to her and she stood there stiff with fear, waiting for him to do something. The men on the bike were almost near the bus stop; she stared right ahead so that she could see both the men and this man from the corners of her eyes.  As the young men came right in front of her, she saw this man give them a nasty stare all the way until they had crossed the bus stop. They had stopped looking at her, she noticed on looking at them for their reaction, and were giving the man a slightly defiant stare back. But they reached the end of the road and turned to the right to disappear. The man immediately started moving back to his earlier place and she noticed the very obvious relief in his body language. She had loosened up herself by now and was breathing again. She looked at the man but he wasn't looking at her; he was staring at the ground as if nothing had happened in the last few minutes. She wanted to say thank you but how would she start. So she kept looking in his direction, hoping he would look back. But he didn't.

The bus came a few minutes later and she climbed it, hoping he would take it too and she would be able to say thank you then. But he didn't board the bus. She took a window seat on the side facing the bus stop. She kept looking at him even as the bus started moving. And then he looked up at her. She smiled a smile of gratitude and nodded her head ever so slightly. He smiled back hesitantly and was out of sight in a few seconds as the bus rolled on.

6 Thinkers Pondered:

Anonymous said...

Total bakwaas as it comes from a person like uuuuu

Anupama said...

Dear Anonymous Comment Poster,

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I respect your opinion.

But since you have not identified yourself, it is impossible to take your comment seriously, not knowing who or where it is coming from.

And since you have not identified yourself, no further discussion is possible due to the information asymmetry...of you knowing me and me not knowing you.

And hence, I am just going to request you to either identify yourself so a more meaningful conversation can ensue about your perception of me (not that fiction must conform to the writer's personality; that is the kind of creative limitation one must not impose upon oneself) or ignore what you have said. But of course you are free to hold your opinion just as I am to discount it.

Thank you once again for your time and attention.

Sowmya said...

A very good post.

A very timely one.
Everyone in the country is in a state of panic since the gory terrifying incidents of Delhi.

These incidents are most unfortunate; but from these, we must learn only to be cautious.
It would be so much more unfortunate if, owing to a few incidents, all of us began to live every day of our lives in perpetual fear, mistrust and fill our minds with suspicion and negativity. Life has to go on.
We must take our precaution and leave the rest to Providence.

Anupama said...

Thank you so much for stopping by Sowmya and for the comment...

Tigerstone said...

A very refreshing read Anu.

I'm amazed how you've continued to write so regularly and needless to say so beautifully. Bravo.

Anupama said...

Thanks for the kind words Tigerstone :) I wish you would write too sometime soon...your writing is missed by some readers of your blog!