Paheli (Conundrum)

The Blue Jeans

Life hardly moved. If anything, it tended to end up where it began. The sun set and the same sun rose the next day, as if mocking at the stagnant life about its boring existence. Waking up was a big chore yet an unavoidable necessity for anyone who’s alive. As heavy as these philosophies sounded early in the morning, he endured through them endlessly. Finally the time arrived to reduce his weight on the bed. And so he did.

Refreshed, revived and rejuvenated, he wore his next pair of Blue Jeans with his matching smile and stepped into the glaring sun. Within a few moments, it would be the best part of the day after all.

He had been living at this place for a little over an Olympics wait period yet hadn’t been consistent with his bus stops. With the recent change in the bus routes, his choices were limited. And with the need to be at his desk before the lunchtime on the east coast, his choices vanished. And thus, he started frequenting this corner bus stop.

Initially it felt to be a mirage in the midst of the desert of nothingness. His only desire was for the bus to arrive to alleviate his misery. Not that the gods ever fulfilled it. And then the proverbial odds fell in his favour. Someone else started using the same bus stop.

The new guy was quite the handsome one, with a smile that would enlighten the darkest time of the night; a pair of hazelnut eyes which brought candles to life with a flicker; and lips which knew how to move.

Wishes were simplistic, to become a dream of his. Dreams were down-to-earth, to become a wish of his. Life wasn’t the same after that, nor was the corner bus stop.

The corner bus stop became usual, occupied by the familiar people – the Green Shirt with his perfect kissing curves and the Black Tee with her typical smile.

He tried to overstep, overtake and overwhelm Mr. Green Shirt yet nothing seemed to have attracted those eyes. Each brawl he witnessed made him crave for more. Each kind gesture he observed led him want for more. Each angle he viewed pushed him yearning for more.

Without even talking to him, pretty much all information was already gathered – the city of work, the location of residence, the morning schedule, the evening rota, the dressing pattern and the phone-call timetable.

There’s been a time immemorial debate to decide whether a romantic is hopeless or hopeful. But somehow that didn’t seem to matter in this case. What made sense was the simple fact that the Green Shirt was so wrinkled that he wished it would have been because of him.

The journey reached its first halt. He got off. He followed suit. Walks paced, horns blew and wheels moved. The sun had four more days to rise before the weekend slumber.

The Green Shirt

The only thing not already in the laundry bag was staring in his face, wrinkled and crumbled. The other choice was a naked torso; not too difficult to figure out. And so he wore the Green Shirt, half tucked in and walked out of the apartment.

The bus was about to close its doors when he leapt to get inside. The centre seat was available and so he grabbed it. The better part of the location is its line-of-sight across the whole interior of the bus. Everyone and anyone could eyeball him without straining their pupils.

Women were instantly jealous of the one who probably was the reason behind those wrinkles. Men were envious of him for having had a lovely time. The other men were envious of the one who shared his time. Everyone had a reason to romance him. Once his stop arrived, he disembarked, so did the sights.

The corner bus stop was as usual, occupied by the familiar people – the Black Tee with her night coloured hair and the Blue Jeans with his typical smile.

Forbidden fruit is the best kind, tending to be grab-able yet out of reach. Ms. Black Tee was just a step away yet she seemed a light year away.

When he first started using this particular bus stop, it was always empty. After what seemed like a drought, one fine morning the gods smiled at him and blessed him with a lady in her finery, running to make sure she didn’t miss the bus. Being a gentleman, he stepped aside to let her in and gave up his seat so that she could be comfortable. More so to make sure that she could view him in all his glory.

Though déjà vu had eluded him ever since. That didn’t stop him from romanticising the days, loving the moments and liking the waits. Something of which had transformed this sleeping stallion into a perfect timer!

He tried his best to get her attention. Some of the days, he even got into a brawl, just so that she could look in his way. But apparently he failed, miserably. As they say about hopeless romantics, he still continued his battle. Some days filled with armour of stupidity, others with ammunition of foolishness and remaining with ocean of idiocy. Yet, his persistence persisted.

His dream was to become her dream and his wish to become her wish. His heartbeats knew when to skip their rhythm, they knew when to pump the blood in its fury and how to make sure the endorphins were funnelled well.

The journey reached its destination. He got off. She followed suit. Walks paced, horns blew and wheels moved. The dream stayed a dream and the wish unfulfilled.

He smiled to himself as his phone screen splashed the day of the week telling him about the four more days to follow before the weekend famine.

The Black Tee

Time has been her foe ever since she learnt how to read it, and so has been the case till date. Irrespective of multiple alarms, a contraption to splash cold water and a poodle to follow suit; leaving the land of dreams was the hardest of all. Though it’s a well-known fact that bad breath of a canine, first thing in the morning, accompanied with the germs on its tongue are enough reasons to ditch the pillow.

A day which begins with reluctance doesn’t store much promise in it. Neither does the corner bus stop she had been using for her first leg of the journey. In a world filled with hurried souls, the stationary point added grimace of the umpteen levels. Since the belief in gods was nonexistent, there was no logical entity to blame it all on. Endurance was what the misery christened as. And then, one fine morning, the sour grapes turned sweet.

She hadn’t seen him before but nevertheless she didn’t mind another sole soul at the bus stop. In addition to making her feel as a part of the crowd it also triggered the senses which generally are stimulated after becoming a bulls-eye aim of Cupid. Misery was a thing of the past. Invisible cheerleaders had started performing their acts.

He seemed to have the right sense to dress up; was always punctual; knew the times well; and filled in the appropriate spaces. She drooled and dribbled and drivelled, and wouldn’t have minded to have his Blue Jeans to herself. Times changed suddenly.

The corner bus stop was as usual, occupied by the familiar people – the Blue Jeans with his adorable sparkling eyes and the Green Shirt with his typical smile.

The skill of knitting dreams had been engrained in her. There were no dearth of scenes, locations and vistas where she hadn’t travelled to with Mr. Blue Jeans and yet never had the courage to smile back to him. There wasn’t a moment in her waits that she didn’t want to move closer and yet she maintained a distance lest her breathing might pick up its tempo.

She wasn’t wishing for much, just enough to make sure he longed for her. She didn’t dream too much, barely adequate to push him to aspire for her. Fantasies had a new address and imagination knew no skies.

The short bus ride gave her an opportunity to look for and then at him. Even though, it was less than a quarter hour, it was enough for her to fill a lifetime. Gods were still nonexistent for her, but she wasn’t averse to the concept, if that would mean a longer bus ride and a comfy distance. The proverbial ice turned out to be hard frozen to be broken even in the middle of summer.

The first leg of the voyage ended. He got off. She waited and followed suit. Walks paced, horns blew and wheels moved. Dreams were dreaming and wishes were wishing.

Just then the ticket collector announced that there were still four more days before the alarms could be silenced for the couple of days.


(First published in summer 2012 release of trikone under the name ali)