Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Bus Ride

I

Heat waves seemed to be rising from the tarmac as she made her way to the bus-stop. Weather reports on the Radio had said this was the hottest day that season and she couldn't help but agree. It had been excruciatingly hot the past few weeks, with no sign of relief but today the heat was simply unbearable. A droplet of sweat trickled its way from her scalp down her spine leaving an uncomfortably wet trail on her back. Her hair felt grimy and sticky and her clothes were sticking to her uncomfortably. She wiped her face and the back of her neck, for what seemed like the hundreth time that day and glanced down the road in vain. No bus in sight, just the road stretching out in front of her; all concrete with not a vestige of greenery. Praying fervently for a bus to come soon, she started pacing up and down, fanning herself with the day's Mid-Day. At least when she was in the bus and it was moving she would feel some breeze.

Fifteen interminable minutes later, no. 167, belching out thick dark carbon monoxide fumes, rolled to stop in front of her. It was packed like a tin of sardines with not much hope of getting a seat, but she consoled herself by thinking of the long shower she would take once back home. The bus would take her across the town to the apartment complex where she was sharing a two-bedroom unit with three other girls. Hanging on, she gingerly fished into her huge canvas bag for her wallet so she could pay for her ticket. As she tried to accomplish the juggling act and maintain her balance, a man got up and offered his seat to her. Smiling gratefully at him and murmuring a quick thanks she collapsed into the seat and waved at the conductor so he could come and give her the ticket.

The bus lurched to a stop and more people climbed in. A bunch of school kids from the municipality school who also travelled across town to attend school. She saw them daily on her way back home and marvelled at how cheerful and enthusiastic they seemed, despite their obvious poverty. Most of them were barefoot and wore clothes that were so old that they were almost threadbare at certain places. But they were all clean and when she asked them about what they studied, they happily told her all about the English miss and Maths sir. Today she didn't feel like talking to them. She was exhausted and her head was throbbing. She had been on her feet all day, running around getting work accomplished, with not even her usual hour-long lunch break. She had rolled her chapati and vegetables and hurriedly swallowed it, in between tasks. Leaning back she closed her eyes and before long she fell asleep.
II

He looked down at her and smiled to himself. He had been observing her for two months now. She was there in the bus everyday from Monday to Saturday at the same time. In the past few weeks, she seemed more tired and haggard and was always grateful to get a seat. He had offered her a seat several times before, but she never seemed to notice him. Today, she looked like she'd collapse if she didn't get a seat. Her thin cotton kurta was plastered to her body, making it easier for him to admire her full breasts today. As the bus turned around a corner, he swayed forward, his crotch brushing against her shoulder. He stiffened and tried to hold himself away, but when she didn't react, he looked down in surprise. She was fast asleep; her head had lolled down to the other side, her hands lay lax in her lap, loosely holding her ugly canvas bag. Her dupatta had slipped down and he could see the gentle curve of her breasts and her cleavage. She had a sexy body, this girl.

The bus turned around another corner, tires squealing in protest at the weight and speed they were being subjected to. This time when his body touched her, he didn't move away. Infact he moved closer and pressed his crotch harder against her shoulder. That felt good. For two months he had been looking at her, imagining how she'd feel against him and by the time she got down from the bus he would be in acute pain. It was a good thing he got down just two stops later and could rush home to find relief between his wife's legs. That fat, ugly bitch. She didn't know a thing about giving him pleasure. She just lay there inert while he grunted and shoved over her. He looked down at this girl's breasts and smiled again as his mind filled with erotic visions.

III

She woke up with a start when the lady next to her shook her. As she moved aside to let the woman pass, she noticed that the lady was pregnant. She looked up up to smile at her, instead she found herself looking into the beady eyes of the man who had offered her his seat. He had a wierd look in his eyes and his face was covered with a fine sheen of perspiration. When the pregnant lady had slid past her, the man gestured to her to move in. She slid down the seat so he could sit down. He slipped into the seat and relaxed back with his bag on his lap. He slipped one hand under his bag and spread his legs apart pressing them against hers.

Feeling a little uncomfortable she shrank further into the corner. Almost as if he took this as an invitation, he relaxed even more, spreading his legs further apart so his thighs continued to press against hers. He was smelling funny. When she asked him to move a little and give her some breathing space, he leered back at her with a smile, but didn't move much. Turning, she stared out of the window at the buildings, cow-sheds and fields that passed by.

A few minutes later, conscious of constant gaze she turned and looked at him. He was staring at her intently and that same wierd look was in his eyes. Thinking he must have been affected by the heat, she asked him if he was OK and if he would like some water. He just continued to stare. Feeling decidedly uncomfortable by now, she slipped her bag over her shoulder and got up, gesturing to him to be allowed space to move out. He didn't move, just stared back so she forced herself to move past him, conscious of his knees pressing against her thighs as she slipped out. Her kurta dragged over his legs and as she pulled it behind her quickly, she thought she felt something brush against her backside. She turned to look at him, only to turn away immediately because of the way he was staring at her.

As she walked down the length of the bus she shuddered mentally. She'd been taking this bus for two months now, and never had she come across such a wierd man. This was probably the kind of man her flatmates had warned her about when she had told them she'd be commuting to work everyday by bus. The bus screeched to a stop outside her apartment complex and she hurriedly climbed down. Crossing, she quickly made her way towards her apartment block. She couldn't wait to take that shower.
May '05

11 comments:

Parth said...

Nice work, but why are you stuck with hot and sultry summers? (two stories in a row). I know the temperature is getting way too high, but it can stay off the mosaic, right? :-)

Amit Pandey said...

Great narration !!...Can we have more such stories plz..

gulnaz said...

liked the story, this is the first story i hv read by you...keep it up...you are talented.

Geetanjali said...

Parth -Thanks! As for the "summer" obssession, hey come on all these will go into my "Summer Collection"! ;-) JK - I dunno I guess the first being based on fact I had to use summer, and in the second somehow summer just seemed the right season, don't you agree?

Amit & Gulnaz - Thanks!

. : A : . said...

Good narration. So much can happen in a bus. What one sees can be so different from what the other does. Nice balance of perspectives in this one.

:-)

Anonymous said...

Are you sure this girls shower worked? Maybe she went back home to have a bath with a bucket. But that won't quite read well, now would it? ;)

./HN

Anonymous said...

Liked this...it feels SO real...freakily real...

I think I'll be paranoid the next time I ride in buses...aaaaaaarrgh!

-Prachi.

Geetanjali said...

August - Thanks!

HN - Touche. Actually even a "cold bath" would work here - so are you applying for the enviable job of being my editor? ;-)

Prachi - Thanks! Didn't mean to give you the creeps though - it's something that happens alot in buses, specially crowded buses. I'm sure you must have heard of tales of the sort from friends? Luckily nothing of this sort has ever happened to me - though in Bbay if a girl raises a hue-n-cry the public is quick to take action and get the offender off the bus. Seen that happen quite a few times!

livinghigh said...

hey... found my way over... at last! ;-)
it's a nice one. reads very well. lol.. so he's got a fat ugly wife, eh? lol...

Sreekesh Menon said...

ah summer, brings alive the weirdo in us all. and yes a great narration!
so does this story stop here?

Anonymous said...

Very well written, sounds very real.