It was a dull Monday for everyone on the bus. Some were dozing off on the long commute to work. A few had their earphones plugged in, disconnected from the world.
Except these two. They giggled like teenagers, a refreshing contrast to their dark-toned, formal work clothes. The first showers of the year were upon the city, long overdue. The heat wave was coming to an end, thankfully.
The conductor chatted away with the driver. This was their usual group of commuters – familiar faces on a mundane Monday morning.
These two sat towards the front of the bus. Two months ago, they’d unexpectedly struck a conversation on this same commute. Since then, every morning, five days a week, each would look forward to meeting the other. He boarded the bus 4 stops before she did, and saved her a seat next to him.The next one hour was spent in regular hushed conversations, often marked by comfortable silences.
They settled into a routine, a sort of friendship that marked the start of every day.
The rain was rather noisy – unrelenting against the helpless windows.
The bus stopped next near the sea face – one of Bombay’s popularly scenic spots. He instinctively grabbed her hand.
“Let’s bunk work today. Look at the rain! It’s the first of the year!!!”
She laughed and dismissed his innocent excitement. “Yeah right! Bunk work to go sit at the sea face and get wet?”
He nodded “Yes!” not sensing her sarcasm. Her sarcasm was often lost on him. Which she found rather endearing.
Observing the seriousness on his face, she realized he did mean what he said. A series of thoughts flooded her head.
Heck, she’d never bunked lectures during college. She was one of the straight ones! But this time, it was different. How he made her feel was different. And the risk was worth taking. After all, it was just a Monday. And it was just office; it did not define her life. She could call in sick and they’d certainly survive!
His voice broke into the voices in her head. “Either we get off at the next stop or we go to work – decide fast!”
“Okay” she found herself saying in a confident voice, tinged with anticipation. She was being rebellious and it gave her a slight thrill! He grinned. “Well, I never expected an okay from you.”
She smiled to herself.
“What’s up with that smile? It feels like you want to say something but aren’t saying it…” he said.
“Oh, I didn’t realize I was smiling aloud” she said cheekily. He laughed. She made him laugh a lot. And somehow, these little moments of laughter made the rest of his day beautiful.
It was time. Their stop was here.
He removed his tie, folding it neatly into his bag. He rolled up his sleeves, ready for an unpredictable & adventurous Monday!
As they moved to the front of the bus, she realized: “Oh no! I don’t have an umbrella.” Slight panic was setting in.
He reached into his backpack with a smile: “I’ve got one. We’ll be OK.”
The bus slowed down. The rain had lessened for now. It was high tide. Monstrous waves were lashing against the walls. A vendor was selling chai and cigarettes.
They alighted. Giggling, they scrambled under the umbrella they had to share, their fingers gingerly interlocking – as though it was the most natural thing in the world at that moment.
The bus began pulling away.