As the clouds part and the rains pour unannounced, I see you running into the bus shelter for cover. The consternation on your face is evident, as you squeeze yourself daintily, into the tiny shelter, acutely aware of curious stares from the dank-smelling, dripping lot who have already chosen it as their safe haven from the rain. Incidentally, I am one of them, as well.
You amuse me with the way you squirm and squeeze yourself into that far corner, taking utmost care not to brush against any of us inferior specimen, lest your expensive dress get ruined. Everything about you, right from that nice smelling perfume you wear to those ridiculously high-heels on your feet, scream pedigreed sophistication. Even after the others have lost interest, I continue to gaze at you with undisguised awe. And when I see you catch my gaze, I am too flustered to even apologize for staring unabashedly.
‘’Madam, time please?’’ I ask, trying to ease the tension. You apprise me with those critical eyes. A fleeting frown appears on your forehead and there is the slightest scrunching up of your dainty nose. Yes, that odd-looking patch you see on my shabby blouse is a mended tear. And yes, I am crouched here barefoot. You see, I can’t afford a pair of sandals. No, please don’t look shocked, I’m really not joking. Where do I work, you ask? I am a domestic help at a house of a well-placed government official, not far off from this bus shelter. I can see that you are staring at the piece of oily, crumpled piece of newspaper in my hands. If you are really curious, I don’t mind telling you that it is only some leftover pakoras, that the lady of the house where I work, has so graciously given me for taking home. A rare treat for my two little girls. Is that pity, I see on your face? No thank you, Madam, I’m in no need of it. Why is the bus taking so long today? Speaking of the bus, I wonder how someone like your good self happens to be here, waiting for one. You’re waiting for your husband to pick you up? Aaah! That makes sense. You wonder why I ask? You see, it’s getting really dark and you don’t want to be hanging around in a place like this alone, with your shiny earrings, twinkly bracelet and fancy watch, surrounded by shifty characters like us. No, no. Please don’t be alarmed. I wasn’t trying to scare you at all! See, now you are all upset, hugging your handbag to your chest and looking at me with mistrust. I don’t think any of us here are intent on robbing you, well, except for that mountain of a man crouched at that far end, who hasn’t stopped staring at your chest. Although, I really doubt if his intention is robbery alone. Okay, Okay. No more of that. I’m sorry. You want to call your husband up? Please do. The sooner you get yourself out of here, the better it would be. Ah, here comes my bus. I shall leave you now. May the good Lord bless you and keep you safe, madam.
What is it that you mumble, that your husband can’t make it? Oh! That is terrible. What will you do now, madam? You could, if you want board this bus with me. I see you hesitate. Although, I think you would be safer with me on that crowded bus than wait here alone for your husband, with that thug over the corner, giving you company. Hah! I see you’ve made up your mind to take the bus. Good. This way please. Watch out , you might trip yourself up on those fancy heels! Allow me to get you a ticket. No, no, I insist, as a friend. You see, I just got paid today. Oh! There’s an empty seat. Quick, don’t dawdle, go on, just take it, unless you want to be felt up, down and all over by sweaty men, standing there , in that crowd. Good, you do have a sensible head on your shoulders, madam. What did you say? You want me to sit next to you? Are you sure? Thank you madam, you are very kind. Look at that rain! Isn’t it beautiful and terrible all at once? Oh, Am I bothering you with my inconsequential chatter? But, please don’t be so anxious madam, it is my responsibility to make sure that you reach home safe tonight. Care for some pakoras, madam? Are you sure you don’t want any? Hope you won’t mind me having a few. You see, it has been a long day. Oh, your phone is ringing. What! You want to get off here, you say? Your husband has come, is it? That is very good. Please watch out for that broken step as you get out. What is this that you offer me? A five hundred rupee note? I see that you have mistaken me for a beggar. Well, let me assure you that I’m not one. So please put that back in your fancy purse lest you tempt some unsavoury character into snatching that bag off your shoulders. The conductor has now started yelling at us , so if madam will be kind enough to get off… and may the good Lord’s blessings be upon you for a lifetime. Ah! Such a fine lady, with such a big heart……you, tall girl with that heavy school bag, come over and sit here, this seat is empty now..Ah, good. Tell me now,what is your name, child?
PS: This is my post for the Daily Post’s daily prompt for the day, ‘Waiting’.