Short Story – The Unexpected

It was late evening, when I was rushing from my hotel to the Bus stand, for returning home. It was a 5 day business trip and I was totally exhausted. I reached the bus stand on time but the bus was an hour late. I passed my time by munching some snacks, sipping some coffee, and loitering around. I had some unusual conversations about politics (The hot topic) with total strangers at the Café. The bus arrived by 10 in the night. I needed some sleep as the next day I was expected to reach in the second half of the day, I had some good pending work and I would get no time to rest. I boarded the bus, and got the window semi-sleeper seat and had the next seat empty. I quickly dozed off, and the next moment at around 12 am I woke up by some elbow shoved on my arm. I woke up, brushed my eyes with my fingers and looked at that dark face. The lights were off and I couldn’t see much of that man’s face. He apologised in a husky voice for the accidental push and I just said it’s alright in a bugged manner and slept off. After some short while I was again pulled from my sleep by some tapping on my arm. I looked at him and I could see his face, he had this square jaw with dimpled chin, full lips, big brown eyes, thick eyebrows, and straight nose. He was standing and looking at me as if he was studying me. I quickly came to my senses and realised my hair would be a mess. I pulled my hair in a ponytail and raised an eyebrow questioning the reason for waking me up?
He understood and said “The bus has halted for some early morning breakfast and..”
I understood what he meant and I realised I need to pee. I thanked him and got down the bus behind him. I went to the washroom and came back to see him sipping coffee. I never liked travelling alone and I didn’t mind talking to my co-seater. I took some coffee, and grabbed a pack of potato chips. I stood beside him and smiled. He smiled back but didn’t say a word. It was 4.30 am and it was pretty dark out there, I finished my coffee and was about to get on the bus when he said from behind “Seems you get good sleep in bus”
and I was a bit embarrassed.
I turned and nodded, he smiled and continued “I can’t sleep in those seats”
I smiled and replied, “I know but I have had travelled a lot to get used to those seats.”
And without waiting for him to reply I got into the bus and sat on my seat. Soon he joined me and offered some cookies. I took one and offered him chips. He took few and we started feeding ourselves silently. I initiated the conversation saying “So you going back home or for some work?”
“Home, I was here for some work, you? ”
“Same here”
“What do you do?”
“I am a Sales Manager, and was here for some quotation work”
“Same here. Wow, so much common between us” and he now was smiling.
I now turned to rest my back on the glass window, and pulled my left leg on seat and was now facing him, watching intently. I now wondered if he is of some rival firm? I asked, “What sort of products do you deal with?”
“Furnishings, you?”
Thank god, he isn’t of my rival and I replied “Plastic, as raw material” and he smiled, as if he too felt some relief. We ate some and talked some more. I didn’t realise when we both dozed off, and when I woke up, he was gone, but there was a newspaper on the neighbouring seat with a name and contact number on it. I was now smiling for unknown reasons. His name is Josh, and I now realised we didn’t introduce ourselves. My stop was arriving, I grabbed my belongings and that newspaper, got down off the bus, took a cab and without a second thought dialed that number. A guy answered the call with the familiar sound, yes it’s him and I was grinning now. And after a second I said “Hey Josh” and he replied “I knew you would call” and then I said “Katherine it is, and see you at Town Café, on fourth block at 5?”
and he agreed. I was smiling all the while in that cab, I didn’t bother about my pending work, but I wanted to see him. I don’t know what’s in the future but I want to be his friend at the least and this journey gave me something unexpected.

Life is full of surprises, live it without expectations and life would give plenty of reasons to smile.

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Short Story – A special journey

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A Special Journey

I was running late for work as always and I had to catch that train. If I lose that, I won’t get another for next 15 minutes. I heaved my laptop bag and ran at my full speed jostling through the crowd to the platform.  Sweat was dripping down my temples and my throat went dry and I could feel my heart racing faster and faster. When I reached the platform, I find that the train has arrived. I plunge into the train headlong and almost hit a man almost 6.2″ I would say, and I am all heavy breathing and profusely apologising. He waves his hand in air, and I am stooped both because I was out of breathe and I was sorry. I take up a seat and it does seem a usual day except for a very bad start, because I see that same old po-faced lady knitting some woolen piece. I see her sitting there always knitting on the same seat, so I framed an equation in my head that the day I don’t see that old lady in this train, would surely mean that day is no ordinary.

That lady always gave me one po-faced brief look before continuing with her work. That day too she gave me a brief look that somehow seemed to me longer than usual and I felt it lingering in front of my eyes for a minute. She even had her skin creased between her eyebrows while she looked at me and I got a sudden urge to hold her hand and tell her “Everything would be fine”, though I am oblivious to the story of her life. Instead she gave me 2-3 more glances and I feel petrified. I am getting panic attacks for no reason. As if I could sense that there is something wrong that is going to happen, and I know very well that I sound demented. I don’t know what, but I feel like I should sit beside her and give her hand a reassuring benign squeeze and be affable to her, ask her why is she so inexpressive and I don’t realise that I am ogling in her direction when she looks at me and gives me a pale smile and I see many creases appearing on her face and suddenly she looks more older and infirm, her hands starts quivering, and she abruptly drops the woolen piece she was working on. As I stoop to pick that up, she passes out, people start huddling and I frenziedly pick her up with two other young boys. Before I sprinkle some water on her face, I see a drop of tear sliding down her right cheek and I feel irresolute and sorry for her and also for myself. Like why didn’t I ever bothered to talk to her, ask her how she is doing? Her head is lying on my lap, and I sprinkle water on her eyes and when she had gained consciousness, I make her drink some water and soothe her forehead and temples. She reminds me of my grandmother except that she is very thin and shrinked. She holds my right hand between her palms and her eyes fill with water. I feel the guilt choking me from within as if I can’t breathe. I know I shouldn’t be guilty but still she seems so invading and penetrating my conscience. I uplift her with the help of those nifty boys and place her on the seat and I ask “Are you alright? ” and she smiled and her face has so many crinkles, her eyes were pouring so many feelings and I wondered how was she able to keep a po-face when she is so expressive.

I ask her “Where do you get down Miss?”. She finally speaks “Mrs. Patricia, Agnes Patricia, and thank you so much my child” and again tear drips down her cheeks, and at her sight my heart crumples. I could only manage a smile with tears on the verge of dropping and she continues “I get down at the last stop, Longfield” and I ask her “if I should drop you there”. She replied with a pleased smile “No my sweet child, you already are in haste, do no bother about this old lady, I would be well”. Though I knew getting to work was important but at the moment this lady is most important thing in my life and I spiel her to allow me to accompany as I can’t leave her in such a state. I see a perfect smile on her old lips and she looks more like my grandmother and I get a strong incite to embrace her and I almost propelled towards her but realised she may faint again out of shock. I call my manager to inform of my absence at work as I need to attend some personal situation.

I held her shoulder with my left arm to stabilize her and we got down at the last stop. While we were walking I asked her where is her home, she said “My dear I stay at the other end, I come here to visit my daughter everyday, talk to her, then get back home by evening”. Oh! I didn’t realise she has a daughter, and I wondered how awkward would it be to meet her. I asked her “Mrs. Agnes where does your daughter lives? Is it far? Should we take up some cab?” and she shook her head and pointed her index finger forward to direct me and I look ahead in that direction and what I saw brought shivers down my spine. I asked in disbelief “a Cemetery? “.

She nodded and said “My daughter died in a train accident 3 years ago while she was going for work. She used to work in Longfield and I got the pieces of her body the other day. I was so shattered by this accident that I had no will to live, no one to share my life with. I travel on the same route in a hope that I meet an accident and die.”, when I heard this I started trembling, my limbs got numb and I felt my legs turning into jelly. She continued “She was 24 when she died, and you remind me of her, she had the same set of eyes, same lips, same hair color” and my lips were quivering now “I wanted to get a good look of you and believe my child is still alive, but I didn’t want to scare you off by staring” I couldn’t understand what was happening but I did what my heart wished for, and I wanted to enfold her in my arms and let her believe that her daughter is still alive, though that sounds creepy. When I withdrew my arms I found her eyes illuminating, and a smile on her lips that was so light and abutting, that a smile nimbles on my lips. I feel something hefty is unloaded from my chest and I feel light and ardor. We visit the cemetery and pray for her daughter’s soul. I take Mrs. Agnes Patricia to her home, seethed some tea and we sipped in and I can see her growing vigorous. I loved the sight, and then on I didn’t saw her in train everyday but only few days a month, because now she didn’t want to die. I visit her every weekend and she says now she has a reason to live, so do I.

A little genialness towards someone can change their life.