Posted by: Prem Piyush | April 15, 2007

The Bouquet


Excuse Me! – Perhaps she told for the second time. She was standing near to me.

“Is that seat no. 8 ?” – She asked politely pointing to the empty window side seat near to me. She was to be my co-traveler on seat no. 8.

I wiped my wet eyes under the specs with hanky. My lost attention from the world of feelings came back to the real practical world.

“Yeah sure!” – I tried to be normal and replied with a possible smile. I came out of my seat to give her way in. Volvo AC buses have enough
space to but the hand baggage. As I reached early, I had already put my bag and my flower bouquet there, so there was relatively less space to put her bag. While standing, she was thinking to put her bag in the luggage space.

“Let me do, I shall keep it.” – I said and took her bag from her. I guessed that my bouquet was taking more space than it needed. I took out the flower bouquet out and kept her bag there. In between the space of my bag and her, I made some space and put the bouquet. Now there was not enough space for the bouquet to lie comfortable. Now one fourth of bouquet along with Orchids were hanging out from the luggage space.

“Thank you” – She told.

“Its Okey”- I gave her way in. She went inside and sat in her window seat.

She looked fair wheatish complexion girl wearing cream colored t-shirt and denim jeans. Though her “excuse me” ascent had pure metro touch but her waist length three pleated tied hairs suggested that her preference to Indian ness again. While keeping her bag I saw the company name “Accenture” on it. May be the company she was working for.

On my seat, I closed my eyes again.

And as started from noon, my headache was unbearable. I closed my eyes again. But since last two hours -don’t know why, the vibrations echoed again and again – the words of Riya – I heard over phone at noon just after I came out the bouquet shop. She never wanted to meet me.

But inside the bus, I wanted to keep my eyes open. The mental situation was, if I open my eyes, my first glance used to go to the big glass in front of driver’s seat – to check if Riya might have come to bus stop and searching me around.

Still 5 minutes were left there before the bus start. Though the mobile was consistently in my hand, it may be the hundredth time I checked out if there was any missed call or a SMS. Some times I felt hallucination that Riya is around here and she called me – “Aakash”.

But she did neither come nor did call me back. More I thought on the words – Riya told me – more migraine type headache was there. I wished to go out of bus for few minutes and sit in the dark corner of bus stand and cry aloud. I wanted some relaxation, even for the moment from the headache that I was suffering.

The girl near my seat took out her earphones and played some soft rock in her i-Pod, as sounds were enough clear to me too. I didn’t have mp3 players. I wished for some time, I should ask for her earphones – may some music help to stop the vibrations of those words in my ears.

Taking out my specs, with the finger tips of my both hands, I tried to massage the area above nose, after wiping my eyes. I was still uncomfortable – and the girl now marked it.

“Any problem ? ” – She asked.

“No, its okey.” – I replied.

“No I just thought you are not well.” – She assured herself and so do I. Her voice though not very soft like my sister, but had some kind of soothing effect that time. And again it was a voice of a girl – I wanted to avoid that – but could not.

The bus started – and the girl did Pranaam touching the forhead with two fingers to forehead and then to neck. Might she did it habitually as many person do while starting the journey.

I was returning back to Bangalore without meeting Riya. I was looking out from the window. The girl was sitting folding hands together. But this girl again reminded of Riya. Do Riya look like her?

The bus was passing through the well illuminated night streets of the metro town. I was consistently seeing outside the window. Might Riya lived in these some streets. But don’t know when my pupils got wet and I had to carry out my hanky again.

Inside the town, the roads had speed breakers in large numbers. At those points the bus used to get slight jerks. In one of similar spot, on the jerk of bus, some little thing from the cabin baggage and fell down on the girl’s lap. It was a purple Orchid from the bouquet. As she was picking it up, with a consequetive jerk one another Pink Orchid fall on her.

I felt bad as the way flowers were falling from above. She picked them up.

“Nice Flowers !” – she told looking at me and picked them up, she got up slightly and put them back into the bouquet.

These words were though complimentary, but was not helping my mental situation any more. Again they were enough to remind me those words of Riya – she told me afternoon. I was unable to believe why Riya told me such things. Was I worth those words? I closed my eyes – the words reverberated my ears. I took out hanky to wipe my eyes in front of a girl !

I was not interested in her words anymore. But one thing I wanted from her. Her i-pod. I knew that’s the only medicine, that may relax me. Asking from a stranger girl was a big challenge and at the time, when she is hearing. But I needed something in the ears.

I thought to keep my ego aside and wished if I can hear her i-Pod for some time, if at least she had any soft corner at her heart.

“Can you let me hear your i-pod for some time?” – I requested her after opening my eyes and moving my head towards her.

She took out her earphones. “Ohk ! you want ? ” – Her expression was affirmative but she was not ready for this request from a stranger.

“Yeah, not feeling well ! Just some music, I want to hear. ” I said her honestly. And I added -” Do you have some Ghazals ?”

“Jagjit !” – She asked.

“Do you have that?” – I was surprised, so did asked.

“Mera fav. (My favourite) “ She replied with a slight giggle and she choose out the tracks and offered me the earphones.

The i-Pod sound was really a great thing- the feeling of a live concert.

Again this was a ghazal lyrics meant something, generated a deep urge again to call Riya for one more ‘last time’. While I was searching for her name, again her words haunted me hard, overriding the ghazals. Now instead of “call” button I thought to press “switch off” button. But I did not.

I was feeling bad as I was using her i-Pod and guilty for myself, as I am using her i-pod. Even then for around 20 minutes, closing my eyes, I was listening tracks after tracks and the girl was looking out of the window. The bus moved out of the town.

At Reliance Petrol pump the bus stopped for fuel. The inside lights were switched on. I took out my earphones, wiped them and offered her back.

“Thanks a lot ! ” – I said

“Its okay” – she replied and added “If want, you can hear more.” I was feeling much obliged for the soft corner in her heart.

“Nah listened enough, I have some work.” – I replied with a smile. I took out my dairy from bag and pen from pocket to write down an impromptu poem to purge out my inner turmoil. I kept the dairy back inside the magazine holder hanging in front of my seat.

The girl continued to hear with ghazals, as sounds and tracks were enough clear to be heard to me too. Though I felt uncomfortable place to write a poem there, I had to hide from the girl what I was writing.

The bus was coming out of the petrol pump towards the highway but suddenly it took a sudden break, as some stray Animal was passing by.
With this sudden break, we seemed to bent forwards and consequently some rose petals and again a purple Orchid from the hanging bouquet fell on her neck.

Within a while the bus moved smoothly on the highway. I guessed this girl will crush me for carrying such things and keeping there.

“Nice Orchids !” was her compliment again and she put them back and adjusted back the bouquet moving inside slightly

“Some one presented?” – she asked with a smile adding to the compliment.

“No” I replied and moved my head towards the boring video. But I could not stop to add “Was to be presented.”

“Okey, you bought for someone!” and she put her earplugs again.

I did not reply.

In the bus I don’t know when a video had started. Some movie of Sunil Shetty was going on.

“I dislike this fellow (Sunil Shetty – the main character of movie) ” she told me , “What kind of boring movie they put !”

I was not much a movie buff, so I could not talk with her much about the movie, me too felt that it was boring movie and the CD being played is scratched one.

Though interesting were the formal talks, but still I was not interested in her talks much, as again she was again a stranger of journey. But all her talks were taking me to my past and the woman’s voice – the words – Riya told me over phone, when I was packing bouquet for her that noon. I was just nodding.

Taking my hanky on face I closed my eyes – as neither had I wanted to see the movie nor I wanted to talk with the girl.

At the dinner time, the bus stopped again near to a good dhaba. I wanted to have some dinner. And the girl preferred to keep sitting, as she had some snacks with her in the bus. I came down and ordered a dinner plate. Since morning I had nothing that can be as meals. While taking dinner, with the recurring thoughts, still I could not finish the half dinner plate. I paid the bill and came out of dhaba. While other passengers were having sumptuous dinner, I walked around the bus. For around 25 minutes, the bus stood there. I got into the bus when driver started the engine.

She was having some “Goodday ” biscuit. She offered me with a friendly gesture. I took half biscuit though I was still hungry – to be exact not for food, but some soothing words.

May Riya call me up.

The girl on seat no. 8, though I was avoiding her, the fact was, she was an outgoing personality, I am sure. We talked formally. She was from Pune, but born of mixed culture parents. She worked at Accenture as Database Administrator. And was inspiring for CAT 2007. She brought up the topics of monday office that both of us had to reach. Subsequently, she brought up the topic of movies and than hobbies including blogging and to my surprise poems. Her liking was Chayavadi writers of Hindi. Hariwansha Rai’s Madhushala was her favourite.

While talking about poems, I remembered and saw my diary, kept in the front magazine holder, just sometime ago, I have written down a poem. The diary seemed to be kept in different direction than I kept. For a moment, I thought this girl might had read my diary, while I was down for dinner. May be she knew that, I was writing a poem at petrol pump stoppage. But I crushed myself for bringing up such a suspicious thought on a stranger girl, who was kind enough to lend me her i-Pod to hear. Might I myself have kept diary like that, as I was not in a sound mental condition.

We talked again on some other topics, but I was less interested still than her.

After some 20 minutes, she pulled out the earphones and spread up her blanket over her. I tried to sleep watching the boring movie and tired body.

I didn’t knew that when I slept. I suddenly became conscious when around late night, I found that I had my head lying on her shoulders, unknowingly. I felt really awkward. I positioned myself and slept again – but headache was less now.

I wake up around 6:20 pm and saw the morning at Bangalore. She woke up much before me perhaps, and sitting straight as if she was ready to get down, though Bus Stand was still 10 minutes away.

My guess was correct.

“I will get down here near Flyover.” and she told came out with her bag.

She bid me bye and went near to door to get down. This professional styled “bye” I disliked most.

She got down. The waist length hair though not much thick, but reminded me something. She looked more fair than, what I saw in night. She walked away and disappeared.

I was to get down the main bus stop after 5 minutes. The bus entered the bus stop and everyone was ready to get down. Being though I was sitting on the front seats, still I didn’t felt hurry to get down. There was a deep feeling that, my journey was incomplete.

All passengers got down. An elderly person and me were taking the luggage out. I decided to leave the flower bouquet inside the bus only, pushing it more inside the luggage cabin.

On the seat no. 8, I saw more rose petals and Orchids were lying, might have fallen the overnight.

I took out the diary from the magazine space. And I saw a white paper like ticket sneaking out from my diary, that was tucked inside my diary.

It looked same just like my bus ticket only. But my ticket was kept in my purse – how it came here?

I saw the reverse side of the ticket. It was someone else’s ticket. In the reverse blank area in a curly handwriting – someone had written.

“Best of wishes for your poems – I loved them. ” – Anu83@_ _ _ _ _ .com.

“What !!” – I was dumb struck. I saw again the seat no. 8 to recall the lady and the ticket at the same time. Was this the reason that at Dhaba, the diary changed its direction? – “She wrote it, but when?”

I was not willing to carry this complimentary ticket with me. I felt as my flower bouquet though now may be one day old one, but – that needed it more than me.

I pulled out the flower bouquet from the luggage cabin and gently tucked the complimentary ticket deep inside the flower bouquet. I kissed the bouquet. I kept it inside the luggage cabin again.

I came down the bus as last passenger.

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