Lighting Spirits5 mins 333 5 mins 333
“Are you not getting down?” Sheila turned and looked at him. As a reply, she nodded her head that implied ‘No’.
“Do you want me to get anything to drink?” “No, thanks,” Sheila replied curtly. For the past one hour, she tried her best to suppress her anger, and now he is here and inquiring her as if nothing happened earlier. Without answering her, Vel climbed down to have his lunch.
The next 30 minutes ticked away in silence. Sheila looked out of the windows and started to count the trees that disappeared as the bus moved forward. The bus entered the national high way and moved at a uniform speed. The bus in which Sheila traveled is a point to point bus from Chennai to Trichy, and the bus brimmed full with passengers. Every seat occupied, and everyone looked busy talking something with the other person.
Sheila turned around to see where Vel is. He looked busy with his routine job, checking and tallying counters in his ticket machine. Sheila took a book from her hand bag and started to read. Though her eyes read lines from the book, she could not stop thinking about Vel. Sheila once again started to blame her stars and curse herself for traveling on that bus where Vel also traveled.
After some time Vel looked ahead to find out what Sheila is at. Sheila looked deeply engrossed in her reading and unmindful of his presence. That somewhat pricked his male ego and he stared at Sheila. He could see only her well-groomed hair neatly plaited and strands of jasmine that adorned her thick, black hair.
Sheila occupied the window seat which is two rows away from his seat. He could not control his urge to walk and sit near her. With a sigh, Vel got from his seat and walked toward his colleague who drove the bus. For a while, he spoke to his colleague and returned back to his seat. Vel could not resist having a secret glance at Sheila and checking out her facial expressions. Sheila could feel Vel watching her; yet, she did not lift her face from the book and continued to read the book.
After one hour, the bus stopped at a small village on the way. Passengers who occupied seats behind Sheila got down. No one occupied those seats, and so after some time Vel got up and sat behind Sheila. Now he can see her more clearly.
He can even feel the perfume from jasmine flower strands on her black hair. For some time, he watched her curls of hair trembling in the breeze. It looked like an invitation to kiss Sheila on her nape and take a deep breath of the perfume of her body. Vel gripped tightly on the upper rod of the seat and let his chin rest on it.
Cautious not to be heard by others, he whispered to her. ‘Are you still angry with me?’ Sheila with a shudder closed her book. She never expected Vel to sit so near to her and whisper like that. Sheila’s heart started to beat loudly, and she bit her lips to control herself.
‘Hmm.’ Sheila could say only that word. Her body started to shiver and she tried hard to control herself. The little girl who occupied the nearby seat slid toward Sheila in her sleep. To control herself, Sheila tried to wake up the girl. Instead of sitting straight, the little girl slipped and started to sleep on Sheila’s lap.
Sheila helped the little girl to sit properly, and turned around and looked at Vel. His sharp eyes met hers and fixed on her glance for a while. Vel’s eyes told her what went on in his mind at that time. The passion in his eyes made her heart palpitate fast, and she could feel her palms wet with nervousness.
“My goodness, what is happening?” Vel’s glance clearly told her the message, and she started to feel restless.
Gathering courage to encounter his piercing glance, she replied to him back with a cold voice, “Look, this is bus and you are on duty.”
“ So, what,” Vel replied in a husky tone. “Don’t make me feel nervous. Behave yourself.”
The way Sheila spoke made Vel smile. With a chuckle, he added, “Ok. Let me wait then.” Vel got up from the place and moved over to his seat. Sheila sighed soundly with a relief. She once again remembered the way Vel looked at her, and a shudder went down her spine.
The rest of the journey went on without any conversation between them. Both of them felt a lift in their emotional levels that made them dumb without any further reaction. After the bus reached the place, Sheila got down the bus and disappeared in the crowd. She wanted to move away from that place before Vel could call her.
When Sheila reached her home at Trichy, the entire town looked bright with lamps lit everywhere. It is a day celebrating Thiru Karthigai. Every one lit small mud lamps both at temples and at their homes. In Tamil Nadu, it is celebrated in the month of December for three days.
Sheila’s mother asked her to go to the temple and light lamps. River Cauvery brimmed with water. On such occasion, young girls will light small mud lamps and placed them on strips of banana stem and let it go with the flow of the river. It is believed that if the lit lamps sailed smoothly on waves of the river, they will get married in the coming year.
When Sheila reached the river, dusk has started to set in and the whole place looked graceful with a romantic touch. Sheila lit her lamp and kneeled on the sand to let it go along with the flow of the river.
“Wait, wait.” Sheila lifted her head to see. “Let me also join you.”
Vel stood there with a grin. Sheila could not answer him back, but only let his lamps go along with her lamps on the river.
“Thanks, my princess,” Vel replied with cheer in his tone and a twinkle in his eyes.