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Perception: A one Night Journey
by Reshma Vaishak (Prose - Short Story) | Published On: 30-Jan-2017

I slowly opened my eyes as I felt the sudden halt of the bus in which I had boarded yesterday night at around quarter past nine accompanied by my mother-in-law and her co-sister. The bus stopped in a petrol bunk. Unfastening the front zip of my blackish handbag I pulled out my phone. The lock screen showed swipe to unlock. It was half past four. The man whom I personally referred to as the conductor of the bus informed us to refresh ourselves. My fretful eyes searched for a board named Toilet. My mother-in-law enquired if I had the urge to go.

‘Is that a question Amma?’ I jumped up.

Both of them followed me as I hurried in. After two to three minutes I came out with a feeling of satisfaction. It’s a common nature of human beings to get it done after seven long hours of dreamless sleep. I approached the mirror which is as dirty as the mirror in any public toilet. Well! At least I could have a vague glance of my face.

‘Hold it. Let me go now.’

My urge had transferred to my mother, so she dumped my handbag forcibly on my left shoulder and hurried in. Aunty had already gone to the bus. I peeped out and she beckoned me to come fast. Suddenly I noticed two people who seemed to be a young couple, standing at the doorway of male toilet.

‘Be quick. I will inform you when the bus starts.’

The husband got in while the wife waited outside. Did I eavesdrop a couple’s conversation? Nevertheless, I peeped out to have a quick glance on her. She was well dressed in blue Jeans and white shirt, long silky hair left untied. The cool breeze danced with her fringes each time she tried to adjust it behind her ear.

‘Hurry dear! Help me pin my saree. It’s in a mess.’

That was my mother again. As we swiftly walked towards the bus I noticed the young lady in front of our bus. She had been frequently checking her phone. My mother climbed in and I followed giving a sharp stare at the lady. After around five minutes, the bus trundled compelling me to settle on my bed. To be more precise, we had boarded on a sleeper bus which is haplessly inapt for scenery lovers like me. Luckily it was a night travel. However I wasn’t feeling sleepy after refreshment.

‘Are you going to stay awake? Still a lot more distance to go.’

My mother asked pleasingly.

‘Yes Amma! I don’t feel like sleeping.’
‘Good! So you stay awake and wake me up when Hosur comes….’

She had already fallen asleep while the bus continued to accelerate. Suddenly

‘Stop the bus! Stop please! He is not here.’
It was a helpless tone of a young lady. She screamed waking up three-fourth of the passengers, obviously excluding my mother. I had no idea about the situation. I somehow attempted to have a look, through the glass window as the lady spoke to the driver. She wore a sky blue coloured kurti and white skirt. She had a long hair plated neatly rested on her left shoulder. I knew her. I had seen her with her husband in front of the male toilet.

‘Sir! I was asleep when my husband got down the bus. I didn’t know, untill I woke up to find him missing.’

I was bewildered on hearing those words. Why on earth was she faking? Why did she change her dress? She looked modern and trendy there, but then she changed herself to a traditional girl. The conductor-man too had seen her awake. Why wasn’t he responding? This situation deeply bothered me. Is there any drama played by the conductor and the lady? Did she deliberately leave her husband? My inner self irritated me with ample questions. The man requested the driver to wait until they return. I stared at them curiously as they faded away. It was 6:00 am when I woke up the next time. I might have dozed off for an hour.  The beautiful scenery of yellowish orange sky mesmerized me as it prompted my mind to reflect the reason behind this journey. I started blushing for some reasons and suddenly my phone rang. It was my husband. The call was enthusiastically attended.

‘Hello! Good morning!’
The blush on my face persisted when he replied.

‘Reached Hosur? Not yet,’ I respond.
‘Where are you now?’
‘Who knows! I see only mountains and bushes.’
‘Ok! Inform me when Hosur comes.’ He hung the call up.

The bushes which are linearly planted splits the road into two. My mother-in-law woke up and asked whether it was her son who called.

‘Yes Amma! He said to inform when Hosur comes.’

Hosur from my reading knowledge is an Industrial town and a municipality in Krishnagiri district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a gateway to Karnataka from Tamil Nadu and has become a satellite town of Bangalore. Two hours had passed already when we crossed the city of Hosur finally. Passengers started getting down on their respective stops. My mother reminded me often that we were going to get down at Shantinagar which is the final stop as mentioned by my husband. ‘Yes! Yes!’ Although I knew the place, I had to respond to her, each time she reminded me in order to attain peace to her innocent conscious self. Finally our destiny had reached. My aunt jumped up and mother followed her. I gently grabbed my stuffs to get down. I could see him awaiting us. A cool feeling of ecstasy giggled inside my heart. I finally met him after a month. It was a month ago that I had been married to him. He had to come back immediately due to various personal reasons….

‘Hi! How was the journey?’ He interfered in my thoughts.
‘Great!’ I replied.
‘Hurry up! Take your bag.There awaits our taxi.’

I turned back to pick my luggage and happened to see her again. The lady whose husband had been missing, the lady who lied to the driver that she was asleep, the lady who stood in front of the male toilet. This time she wore the old attire, white shirt and blue jeans. She walked towards  the same conductor man who had accompanied her to find her missing husband. I stood there in front of the busy Shantinagar bus-stop squeezing my eyes. The young lady then had a conversation with him. I watched her speak to him so gratefully

‘Didi!’ She yelled out staring at the bus door.
‘Come help me with this bag yaar!’ She ordered.

It took a moment or two for my puzzled mind to realise that her so-called didi was the lady in blue kurti and white skirt. They were identical twins. She was followed by her husband. The whole situation rewound in my mind. The husband and his wife’s twin sister got out for refreshment and they missed the bus. The wife woke up to see them missing. So she called out for help. The cognizance of the whole incident cracked a smile on my face.

‘Aren’t you coming?’ My mother-law called out.

I picked up my luggage and walked forward. A bizzare feeling of solace entangled in me as I walked towards the taxi. I was relieved because she didn’t lie, she did nothing wrong. She didn’t even fake. Everything was nothing else but just my Perception.

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Author
Reshma Vaishak

Reshma Vaishak

Written: 1 Stories

Member Since: 29-Jan-2017

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Odd-Even Stories