Anamika





It was just 9 in the morning and it already felt as if a heat wave had invaded the city with all its might. The sun seemed to rain burning embers and even in the shadows of high-rises, the heat was unbearable. Sweating profusely, I reluctantly abandoned the shade of a roof and waved my hand signaling the bus to stop. Even though it was pretty difficult to board the already crowded bus originating from Howrah, finding a decent place to stand was a major challenge in itself. I somehow managed to push and jostle my way towards the last row where I finally found some room to stand.

Standing next to me was a beautiful young woman, probably in early-thirties, struggling to keep her balance as the driver rode recklessly. After sometime, as the bus crossed Moulali, a passenger next to whom I was standing vacated his seat which I offered to the lady out of courtesy. Giving me a pleasant smile, she willingly accepted  and made herself comfortable in the cushioned seat. Dressed in a simple yet elegant white Anarkali dress she looked ethereal. Her only accessory was a thin gold necklace with a Ganesha pendant. After a while as I was about to get off at my office stop, my heart skipped a beat when she gave me a pleasant smile! Was she really smiling at me or was it a figment of my imagination? I kept on thinking about her till I entered office. Immersing myself with work, I forgot about her till the next day when I saw her again in the bus.

She was seated comfortably in the last row fiddling with her smartphone. I walked up to her seat scanning the entire zone for a decent place to stand. After a few moments, when she recognized me flashing her trademark smile, I felt that I had developed a huge crush on her owing to her innocent smile which was a bundle of positivity. She went back to her phone and we didn’t exchange any words except a goodbye when I got off.

Meeting her in the bus, became a regular routine in the next few days. I would find her either in the last row or on the seats reserved for ladies. To remain close to her, I would either try to sit or stand near her seat on most of the days. While we never spoke, her smiles and goodbyes became an everyday part of my life. One day when I could not catch the bus on time I was extremely disappointed. I was upset that I could not see her and when it turned out to be a harrowing day at work, it convinced me that she was my lucky charm. 

The next day I felt relieved when I saw the familiar smile in the bus. She stood holding a railing looking fresh and ravishing as ever. She wasn't beautiful in the classical way; no flowing curls or fair skin, no piercing eyes. She was shorter than average, but even in her ordinariness she was stunning. Something radiated from within her that rendered her irresistible. She had a kind of understated beauty, perhaps it was because she was so disarmingly unaware of her prettiness. She was all about simplicity. Lost in her gaze, I was jolted back to reality when the bus conductor chided me for not making room for others to pass. Taking this opportunity, I immediately ran up to her, my eyes blurting out the fact that that I missed seeing her, the previous day. I meekly smiled at her and she reciprocated the same. The entire stretch I kept on glancing at her. Alluringly, she would blink her eyes from time to time, allowing her eyelashes to flutter like the wings of a butterfly. I was glued to her eyes, which were simply spellbinding. When she smiled while watching some video in her phone, I couldn't help but smile along too, even if it seemed stupid.

Days passed and she dominated my thoughts most of the time. I felt hopelessly attracted to this woman who seemed nearly half a decade older than me. Even on the Saturday’s when I didn’t have to attend office, I would take the bus only to see her. Maybe I was turning into a creep, but I couldn’t help myself.  I knew I desperately wanted to speak to her, but words failed me whenever I saw her. 

After a span of nearly a month, I gathered all the courage I had and tried to a make a conversation with her for the first time by asking her where she worked. Taken aback by my sudden question, she pondered for a few seconds and handed out her business card through which I came to know that her name was Anamika and she was a junior manager in a cash & carry store. I thanked her for the card and gave her mine which she accepted without even glancing at it. Though I considered it a bit rude, I was very happy that atleast I got to know her name and our conversation had got off to some start.

We started making small talks in the next few days and soon enough we progressed to sharing bits and pieces of our lives instead of just smiles and goodbyes. I did most of the talking, mostly about my pathetic office life, while she spoke very little. Her presence in my life was more than reassuring; I would forget all my pains just by watching her smile. She would always listen calmly and offer simplest of solutions for my problems. I was really happy the way our friendship was progressing, however, it shattered me completely the day I found out that she was a divorcee and a mother of a four-year-old. I hadn’t expected her to be un-married, but knowing it as a fact, bothered me. It was difficult for me to accept that the woman I loved, had also loved someone else in the past. I also knew that it wouldn't be easy for her to accept me in the future (if at all would it ever happen) after coming out of a difficult relationship, but I couldn't hold myself back. She was everything for me and I knew I had to fight  my negative thoughts, as I was not going to let my love for her, fade in any way.

In a couple of days, I slowly learnt to ignore her relationship status as our friendship grew from small chit-chats to long conversations on WhatsApp. She gradually opened up to me, talking about her personal life, especially how she missed seeing her son who was in custody of her ex-husband. She once even told me that she found it comfortable to share her pains to a stranger than to confide to her family members who did not accept their divorce. 

Over the next few days, we would find excuses just to celebrate little occasions and I would bunk my office on her holidays just to spend more time with her. Somewhere deep down, she also knew that I had fallen for her, but that topic was never broached upon. Once when I was late by a few minutes, I saw Anamika waiting for me at my bus stop to my utter surprise and disbelief. She got down when she didn’t see me at the stop and we took the next bus together. It was probably the best phase of my life; the clichéd love songs started making sense and I would look forward to each passing day. Maybe I had understood my love for her; maybe I had understood that some relationships do not require any name.

I clearly remember the day which changed the course of our journey. It was the 3rd day of October 2017. As usual we met in the bus and I found her looking visibly happy that day. She was so excited that she nearly hugged me in front of the entire crowd! Before I could ask anything, she gleefully informed me that she had received the permission to meet her son on the day of his birthday which was on 5th October. During the entire stretch of our journey she shared all the minutest details of how she was planning to celebrate his birthday and what all presents she was going to buy. Her happiness was so overpowering that I felt really cheerful too. She was so excited about the preparations, that she didn’t even call or text me even once after our meeting.

When I couldn’t find her in the bus the next day, I tried reaching her on her mobile which was unreachable. After repeated calls I gave up, thinking that she would still be busy with the arrangements. Even after reaching office when her phone was still unavailable, I got a bit worried. I thought of going to her office, but then dropped the idea as it would look desperate. I couldn’t sleep that night as I couldn’t reach her even after multiple calls and over a hundred WhatsApp’s. I also felt very angry; how could she be so insensitive? Here I was losing my sleep, worrying for her and she didn’t even bother to call me once in the entire day.

I was so anxious the next morning that I decided to visit her office if she didn’t come. I was also angry on myself for never asking for her residential address. A ton of negative thoughts competed with each other as I boarded the bus, only to be relieved as I found her sitting in the last row. Usually she would have greeted me the moment she saw me, but that day she was lost in some deep thoughts. Looking very sad and sullen, her emotions could not remain hidden behind her innocent face. Her pain was evident from her face as her eyes were filled with grief. I knew something was wrong as I knew that she wouldn’t remain sad on her son’s birthday. Before I could ask anything, she handed me a small box with a request to be delivered it to her son. I quizzically looked at her asking for an explanation, to which she couldn’t respond. A few minutes later she spoke holding back tears, that she would not be able to explain everything and pleaded me to deliver the box to the address which was mentioned on it. I could never say no to her, but I wanted to know the whole story behind her sadness. Before I could ask further, she wept incessantly forcing me to shut up. Even when I asked her whether I could accompany her to office, she politely refused and said that she was fine. As I was about to get off the bus, she held my hand and requested again to deliver the gift by the day. I solemnly nodded and got off at my stop.

With lots of questions in my mind, I decided to bunk office and straightaway head off to the address mentioned in the box to deliver it to her son. I knew something had definitely gone wrong; maybe her ex-husband had not allowed her to meet; whatever it may be, I definitely needed answers to my questions. Before reaching the address, I called Anamika again, only to find that her cellphone was still unavailable. I cursed under my breath and nervously rang the bell of the address mentioned on the box. I did not know how to act as a delivery man and it did not strike me that I needed to look like one. After a few seconds, which felt like eternity, an extremely fatigued man answered the door.

Stammering nervously, I said that I had come to deliver a box for Anamika’s son, handing over the small box to the gentleman. He eyed me suspiciously and opened the box which contained the necklace with the Ganesha pendant worn by Anamika. Looking very surprised, he asked me whether Anamika had personally asked me to deliver the box. I meekly nodded. Taken aback by my answer, he questioned again "When did she give you the parcel?" When I replied that it was given to me on that day itself, the gentleman was horrified and fell down on the floor. I helped him get up and made him comfortable on a chair. His eyes still had the look of disbelief and he kept on murmuring that it was not possible. When I asked what wasn’t possible, he could barely say, “It is not possible that Anamika gave you this today…she met with an accident two days ago...She died yesterday!”

Comments

  1. With Simple and elegant choice of words a story so captivating,that traps you with two strangers and compels a nostalgia to cross your minds.Three minutes into the story and i was already reliving something that never occured to me yet felt so real and close.

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  2. Arpit u amaze me....n guess u will continue to....super talented....😊
    Yess....I ws ridin wid d tym machine n virtually present.... seeming to b a part n parcel of Ur story as though personally witness to everything....simply amazing....do keep us gasping for more of Ur stories.....DONT STOP NOW

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much madam. Coming from you, it's really an honour!

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  3. What to say .... Simply when started reading, flow of words didn't let me do anything till I have completely read it. Infact even drastic end too took mind to various thoughts of how a mother's love does wonders and a pain where a mother is kept far from her son.

    Many thoughts are still capturing mind space and it's really hard to.come over it. Very beautiful choice of words and splendid work of literature.

    I just hope Bhabhi doesn't read it or else your bus journey's will get aborted forever.

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  4. Beautifully expressed.. your story was intruging indeed to make someone read till the end at a go.. Keep writing and sharing.. Looking forward to the next one..

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  5. Another talented of yours...well written# keep it up #simply awesome

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  6. U r blessed arpit...
    nourish yr talents..
    Actually its difficult to believe that this is yr first attempt.
    Whole story keeps the reader glued till end.
    Keep it up..
    Would love to read many more from u.
    ������

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  7. From the heart... Touching indeed..

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