8.00 am.

Ashok Nagar Bus Depot…

It was time to board the mini bus.

But he waited just by the side of it as other passengers filed in one after the other.

It was a peak summer day. The sun smiled broadly showering its warmth generously on Mother Earth. Beads of perspiration formed on his forehead. He wiped them off with the handkerchief. The frugal shadow cast by the bus provided minimal respite from the burning brightness. But he was not bothered about the heat or the flies that persistently and irritatingly buzzed around him. His gaze was fixed on the mouth of the gully on the other end of the main road. The movement of the traffic was increasing gradually blocking his view now and then. However, the speeding vehicles did not distract him.

It was time for her to come…the girl with the thoughtful look.

She was his co-passenger and took the 8 o’clock mini every day to Dalhousie Square, the corporate hub of Kolkata, where she de-boarded – most probably she worked in one of the offices situated there. Which one? He did not know. Perhaps he would ask her one day or follow her and find out. He had been observing her for the past few months. There was something very different, very unusual and unique about her. The bespectacled girl had an aura of seriousness about her which was suggestive of a sweet sincerity, an enigmatic innocence that was uncommon and at the same time oddly attractive and alluring. Her long, dark, glistening hair cascaded down to her waist. Her thin, reed-like figure was always clad in hand woven, cotton sarees. She was fond of reading and always had a book or a magazine open on her lap during the bus journey. She never looked up. Her concentration never wavered. Her eyes never strayed towards the other occupants of the bus. He was doubtful whether she realized that he travelled with her every day. But he knew each and every slightest of movements of her body. How she bent her head a little too low while reading, how she wiped the sweat off her face with her hanky now and then in the over-crowded interior of the bus, how she turned a little to her side and asked for a ticket in a soft, pleasing tone, how her lips pursed up and brows creased when she was in deep musing – he had mugged up, rather, soaked in all these little, insignificant details about her day in and day out. That was why he chose to sit one seat behind her always – so that he could stare at her unnoticed.

He knew she stayed in the third gully off the main road– the house in the corner just next to the lamp post with the green grills and door. He had followed her stealthily one evening and found that out. It was a big house and the locked entrance had a kind of invincibility, a sense of impregnability about it. But one day he was sure to barge in through that gate. What would he do thereafter he was not very sure but the thought of gate crashing into her domain was an oft-replayed dream sequence that enlivened his days and nights– a soothing anointment to his diffident manhood.

At times he wondered what her name was – Kuhu, Piya, Peeluor Riya ? Lovely pet names but these did not go well with her persona. She should have unusual, dignified names to match her personality extraordinaire – Shreyasi, Somashreya or Paramtapa? He loved to carry on with this guessing game but could hardly muster enough courage to approach her and ask her name. But no more wait. He decided all of a sudden that today was the day to tell her that he wanted to be friends with her. He wanted to know everything about her – her likes and dislikes, her thoughts and desires, her passions and fears. And what if she snubbed him off? He would accept that as well. He would take in even her hatred and jeers. He was ready for every possibility, every outcome.  He had to talk to her. As soon as she arrived he would go up to her and introduce himself. He waited for the moment with baited breath.

She was very punctual usually. But today she was unusually late. He prayed silently that she would appear like a fairy out of the blue and glide her way into his heart. But that did not seem to be happening. What happened instead was Raghu the driver of the mini bus finished his tea, threw the earthen cup aside and hopped into the bus. He took his seat and inserting the key to the ignition called out to him, “Dada! Jump in. We are ready to move.” Being a regular, he was pally with the driver and the conductor. But this morning everything was going haywire. She had not come till then. Was she on leave today? Was she not going to come? The thought made him morose. Raghu, in the meanwhile, kept on persuading him to board the bus undeterred by his lack of response. “Dada! Are you waiting for anyone? Come in and take your seat. Quickly.” The engine purred into action.

Yesterday his boss had rebuked him for reaching office late. He could not afford to be late again. The dour face of his ever-dissatisfied superior floated in front of his eyes. Reluctantly, he got in and took a seat next to the window on the right hand side – the main road was clearly visible from there. Raghu was now playing with the vehicle. The bus oscillated back and forth gingerly but did not spur into a run ahead. Good, he thought, a little more time. He could wait a little longer for her. If only this moment could be prolonged forever. He looked out of the window. An overloaded truck was lumbering past like a slow-moving mammoth. It was blocking the view of the gully opposite. As it inched a little further, suddenly she came into view – yellow saree with green border, yes, it was her. She had spotted the bus too and was walking fast. Now she gained pace then broke into a run to catch the bus.

“Raghu! Raghu! Stop! Stop!” He cried getting up from his seat.

At the same time another passenger yelled from the back, “What nonsense is this? Are you going to make a move or should we get down? We are all getting late to office.”

Raghu calmed down the agitated office goer, “Dada! Don’t get upset. Here we go.”

He raised his voice, “Raghu! Wait! Somebody is coming.”

“Dada! Sorry. I can’t wait any longer. Maalik (owner of the bus) will kill me if I don’t reach Dalhousie on time,” so saying he pressed hard on the accelerator.

He craned his neck out of the window to see her. The distance between her and the bus was increasing rapidly. With the gathered speed of the bus she was soon reduced to a mere speck against the dazzling horizon. He slumped back in his seat. Another day gone! Wasted! Another opportunity missed. He thought. But never mind. There was always a tomorrow. If not tomorrow then some other day, some other time, when he would be able to summon sufficient courage to go up to her, ask her name, confess to her his feelings. She would be shy at first and then acquiescent, intimate, cosy. He would playfully accuse her of being a trespasser who made it a point to invade his dreams every night. She would smile up to him; he would then hold her hand and together they would walk up to the big house in the corner with the bolted door, push open and step in unhindered.

Until then…

He would wait for her at the bus terminus at 8 o’clock sharp every week day morning.

That was a promise he made to himself and intended to keep it as well.

And if you happen to be at the Ashok Nagar Bus Terminus by the three-way crossing where the main road swerves right then speeds straight down towards Barranagar you may still find him there waiting for her even this day…

There’s nothing like chasing a dream, you know…

 

 

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16 responses »

  1. Kalparshi Bandyopadhyay says:

    Geetashree,It is a well written,thoroughly enjoyable story that gives a pleasant reading experience to it’s readers. The last paragraph is a clean sweep,when you say ” And if you happen to be at the Ashok Nagar Bus Terminus by the three-way crossing where the main road swerves right then speeds straight down towards Barranagar you may still find him there waiting for her even this day…
    There’s nothing like chasing a dream, you know…” .It makes the story indefinite or indeterminate and thats what I like. A perfect example of microfiction, where less is more.

  2. JS Broca via email:
    Dear Geetaji,
    I believe that nothing happens unless we first dream.Further,it is a well known fact that all men who have achieved great things,have been dreamers.My advise to your hero : Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.It is also said that,when you cease to dream, you cease to live.It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.The story ended without satisfying the readers curiosity.Did he get her finally or not ?.I feel you should write the next part too.I wish the story ends on a happier note.Waiting eagerly for the next part,if there is going to be one.Kudos!

    • gc1963 says:

      Thanks Brocaji, for the positive note. I am sure my hero will be able to achieve what he aspires for at the end because he chose to dream with conviction, as you say!

  3. Shernaz says:

    A pleasure to read something again from you Geetashree. It is a well written (as usual) story evoking sadness, more because the protagonist is chasing ‘a mirage’ as Mathur ji has so well put it. Waiting for more from you.

  4. I want to read the rest 🙂 But I know the story ends here for now…I enjoyed this a lot, it’s almost like watching a movie. Just beautiful…

  5. D.Om Prakash says:

    Geetaji,
    Another commuting story from you!
    But this one brings out the emotions well.

  6. Dear Geeta,

    Chasing a dream – We all tend to do that especially when we feel that we may have missed something out in life. And even if we have all most everything there is that extra thing that we desire- a natural human tendency, a trait in most of us emotional people.

    Nice story….

  7. gc1963 says:

    Mathur Sahab! Namaskar! You have understood the underlying ethos of the story very well. I have seen many chasing a mirage under a fake notion of chasing a dream. Therein lies the genesis of this story.

  8. Geeta Ji,

    Namaskar and Suprabhat.

    I have gone through the story. Well, chasing a dream should be different from chasing a mirage. This story of yours has reminded me of my own days when I had waited endlessly for several evenings (and for several months) for someone but my wait did not yield because by that time, the life-equations had changed against our relationship. I remember weeping for hours when she did not come. However, that wait had some logic because there was a tangible relationship. The protagonist of your story waits for someone without any concrete logic behind the wait. I can empathize with him but chasing a mirage is something I won’t recommend or endorse because it’s just like hurting oneself.

    Praising your pen will be a repetition because you always write so well.

    Regards.

    Jitendra Mathur

  9. jmathur says:

    Painful story Geeta Ji. Is it chasing a dream or chasing a mirage ? Well, you know better. Since I have also (unsuccessfully) waited for someone in my life for several evenings and I never stopped waiting for her till it was confirmed to me that she could no longer be expected to visit me. I can feel the untold pain of the protagonist. However there should be a logical basis for chasing such a dream. Though Ghalib has asserted that the wait for the beloved is much more pleasant than the actual meeting with him / her, hurting oneself through this wait is not recommendable. Anyway, it’s my viewpoint.

    Regards.

    Jitendra Mathur

  10. gc1963 says:

    Thank you very much, Eva.

  11. Eva Bell says:

    “Chasing a Dream” is a touching story of unrequited love.
    Geetashree, I enjoyed reading it. Hope there will be many more such stories from you.

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