The Poetic Meanders

The Poetic Meanders
The Teesta River - captured by Parth Adhikari

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Stranger

The Stranger

 To the innocent bespectacled stranger. For I wish I see you again.

Confused in the city of Bangalore
(Having come from and having to go far),
Under the sweltering sun of the day,
I stood waiting at the stop 'Big Bazaar'
(Ironical though, with no such thing there).
A fine lady had led me to that place,
With directions spoken in swift Kannada
While she sweated at her hands and her face.

So, as I impatiently moved back and forth
At the stop, waiting for a red Volvo,
I saw the girl there for the first time, dressed
Impeccably simply in a yellow
Kurti and a churidaar; she was there
Sitting on the bench talking to a friend.
I thought of seeking their help, stranded there
By Google Maps that I couldn't comprehend.
I showed her my phone, "Excuse me, could you
Kindly help me with this address on here?
I was told to board a bus from this stop,
But which bus do I need take and till where?"
She seemed somewhat amused and she smiled,
"Umm...You should get down at Kundal Halli.
As for the bus, why don't you come with us?
We will be taking the 500 C."
"Thank you. Umm... So does it come from there?"
I asked her, pointing to where the road turned.
"Yes. Don't worry. It's a bus. Not a rocket!
It will stop here. Please don't be that concerned."
She assured me thus. She wore spectacles
And was lean with midriff-length, well-kempt hair,
Her cheeks were dappled with red spots and of a
Captivating charm she had her fair share.

She had something - what? A simplicity
That perhaps I had never seen before,
Or was it that tiny yellow bindi
That had my fiddling heart beating sore?

The Volvo arrived nearly vacant, we
Boarded it and sat across the gap lane
That divided our seats; the conductor
Approached me. I let my phone's screen explain -
"This." I looked at the girl; she told the man,
"(In broken Kannada…) to the Colony."
To me, she said, "Pay him thirty rupees.
It is so because of the bus' A.C."
She smiled. I reciprocated. I paid
The fare. I asked her, "Are you from this city?"
"No," she replied. "I've been here for a year.
What about you? Your first time here, clearly."
"Yes, I am new here. I arrived three days back."
On the left, I saw a white building outside
"That is the Sri Sathya Sai Institute
For Higher Medical Sciences on this side."
"Oh, it is big," I foolishly observed.
I felt dumb stating the fact with large eyes,
But there wasn't much to talk about, you see,
And we all have our social lows and highs.

Her friend, hitherto unnoticed, said something
Quietly to her; she asked me, "Where are
You headed? To SJR Brooklyn, no?
Well, actually that place comes after our
Bus stop. But don't worry. I will help you.
This here is the Marriott hotel, see?
Three stops after this there will be a turn
Then there'll be the college CMRIT.
Be on your guard when next the driver takes
A left, then ask him for Kundal Halli.
I am sure that will help you locate
The SJR apartments quite easily."

She talked with suave hands that gestured directions,
Her glass bangles had tinkled all the while
And she would move aside one wayward hair
That kept falling on her forehead, with a smile.

The bus slowed down. They got up with some others,
And moved toward the opening double door.
My eyes followed her eagerly as the crowd
Got down from the BMTC low floor.
The most surprising of things happened then -
She stopped at the door and she turned around,
She smiled and waved a hand at me. I too
Waved back and mouthed "Thank you" (without a sound).

The bus proceeded on the promised route.
I did as she had advised; I got down
Where the irritated driver told me -
“This is colony.” (With an irksome frown)

Now it has been some days since that meeting,
But there’s an indelible mark on my heart,
Of the ten minutes’ (or so) journey where
Something did end, yet nothing did start.

There had been nothing special then.
No skipped heart-beats, no stagnant time,
No jaw-dropping, no flowing breeze,
No sweetly resonating chime.

But why do I hope to be lost again
When next I visit Bangalore city?
But why do I hope to see her there in
The yellow dress, aboard the 500 C?

 For you may sometimes find something where you get lost.