That Night At the Bus Stop - Part I
That Night At the Bus Stop - Part I11 mins 266 11 mins 266
Aniket was in Ratlam for some dealer meeting and was on his way back to the bus stop. He had a bus to catch at 11.30 pm that was the last bus available for Jaipur. Fortunately, since his meeting got over on time, he reached the bus stop on time. Post reaching the bus stop he came to know the bus got late, and it is now supposed to reach the Ratlam bus stop at 1.30 am. Since no hotels were nearby and it was just 2 hours waiting, Aniket decided to wait there at the bus stop itself. However, Destiny had planned something else for him; far beyond he could have ever asked.
Aniket, 33 years old, was an entrepreneur; he owned a couple of saree showrooms in Jaipur. Being the only son of the family, he willingly accepted to take over the family business. At the age of 27, he got married to Pallavi and the couple was blessed with twins (Lakshith and Lakshya) post three years of their marriage. Aniket business flourished in a short period, all due to his tremendous hardwork he had put in in the past couple of years, "SHARMA SAREES" had earned the reputation it was entitled to. In spite of having everything he has ever wanted, there was a void in his life, he did not know what to do with that. He left it on time to heal this.
It was the month of November; winters had just knocked on the doors for Aniket it was his favourite weather. It was not too cold; however, enjoying the cold breeze was a delight for him. As he seated himself on the chair available being too engrossed in enjoying the weather, he failed to notice that the bus stop got almost deserted.
It was midnight, only a few passengers were there at the bus stop, however since buses were coming and going by, the place got deserted soon except the few vendors who were in a hurry to wind up to head back home.
As Aniket was engrossed in his phone, he failed to realise that he had a company of a young woman accompanied by an old man.
"Excuse me what is the time now," the voice asked, it was not until that he realised his company whereabouts. As he turned towards the voice, he observed the young women must be in her 30's, tall, fair, long hair almost till shoulder she left that open, breeze was so happy playing with her hair, as she was struggling to tuck the tresses behind her ears. Bangles she wore in her hands were trying hard to fill in the silence in their way. He realised his company was in a saree. Though he was not able to see the face properly due to the long hairs wait he was familiar with those fingers struggling with the tresses.
It did not take him much time to realise that she was none other than Meera. His Meera, his first and the last love. How could he even take a second to identify the face of the most important person in his life? For him, that moment felt as if someone had hit the pause button everything around him seemed to be frozen; as if life has zoomed the camera to focus on her face, making the background blurred. He was too startled to open his mouth to utter anything. Meera broke the silence "Hey, Aniket, Oh God. Is it you? What a coincidence? How are you doing? Aniket realised it was not a dream and yes, his Meera was standing in front of him. No, she was not alone she was with her Uncle. How could he forget that face; the face that had haunted him till now. He was no less than a villain in his life, who ensured to leave no stone unturned to make his life miserable.)
Yes, it has been almost after 10 years he met this man face to face, whom he had hated and cursed every moment of his life. Something had changed in this man; he did not look the same egotistical, self-centred, obnoxious person he appeared in their last meeting. He was weak, fragile; the broad proud shoulders had seemed to loosen the grip and were hanging in there with the old man. The man, who had always taken too much pride in being him and stood tall, was today dependent on the stick for the support even to stand. Guilt was visible in the old man's eyes as their eyes met, the man shyly muttered 'Hi Aniket, how are you? After what he did to him 10 years ago, how could he even dared to speak to him, was all Aniket could think.
Ignoring the old man, Aniket shifted his focus and finally spoke to the lady "I am good Meera, how are you? Ya, it has been a long time. How is married life treating you? You seem all decked up, coming from some wedding and how did you end up being here at the bus stop.
She was about to reply, however, the phone call interrupted the conversation. Excuse me Aniket it is an important call, I'll just come. Due to a network issue, she had to walk some distance from the bus stop to get the signals. As Aniket watched Meera walking away again (this time it was the bus stop than his life), he experienced the same pain he had felt ten years before.
Meera Uncle grasped this opportunity to convey to Aniket what he deserved to hear. Aniket I am sorry for messing up your life badly. I know I do not deserve your forgiveness, but please if possible, forgive me for what I have done. Meera lost her parents when she was young, hence I tried my best to fit into her parent's role however in that process I took the liberty to control her life as well. I have always looked down on you, as per me money, status was everything and those were the only parameters to define the person. Needless to mention that I have hated you for what you were. Coming from a small middle-class business family, you had the audacity to fell in love with my Princess. I was trying to protect her from you. I know my methods were wrong and trust me as I stand before you, I can understand what my Princess lost.
Do you remember the blue letter you received from Meera, stating that she has always considered you a friend only, nothing more than that and that she was in love with Rahul and wants to get married to her? She was angry that how could you even think about marrying her, knowing that she belongs from such a rich, well to do family and that you had absolutely nothing to give to her. Rahul had everything to give to her, she deserves.
She also mentioned that she hated you for the letter you wrote to her confessing your love to her, how you could even try to do that.
Rahul was my friend's son, a rich guy and well educated and hence I wanted Meera to marry him., the old man told Aniket.
Before Meera's uncle could proceed further, Aniket took out the blue letter in his hand and said Are, you talking about this letter? How do you know about the content of this letter, this letter was delivered to me by Meera's friend –Ananya?
Meera tried contacting you, however, I ensured through various methods that she was not able to contact you. My plan worked when she told me you were avoiding him, not responding to her calls, reverting to her messages, you indirectly helped me in making it a success.
They both looked into each other as if the picture were clear.
Yes, I wrote that letter, all the hatred you felt in that letter was penned down by me, and I have asked Ananya to give that letter to you on her behalf. I knew that you would trust that letter and shall never contact Meera to know about the truth behind the letter.
Aniket felt a lump in his throat; he felt a wave of weakness in his knees as if someone had broken his knees with a hockey stick, he felt as if the whole world was revolving around him. He immediately sat on the available chair, unable to say anything.
He was responsible to let Meera go from his life and yet he hated this old man throughout his life for ruining his life. Somewhere part of him had hated Meera too for playing with his emotions.
Beta, I cannot undo what wrong I have done to you, but I guess destiny has made us met today for a reason.
I do not want to intrude in your personal space, but are you still punishing yourself today for what happened 10 years ago!!
You are still holding that grudge bag along with you for past 10 years not only this you have detached yourself from your family's love, though you are living with your lovely family, yet emotionally you have lost your path. I have done wrong to 1 person (ie. you), but just imagine how many people are you making suffer on account of this. You got so occupied in holding to the grudge, that you have stopped living your life.
Are you doing justice to your family, how are they responsible for what I did for you, for the matter of fact, how long do you plan to carry this grudge bag? Maybe I can never understand how important Meera was for you, no amount of love can justify what you are doing with your family and to yourself. It is high time that you unload that baggage before it is too late.
No wonder you are still clinging to that 10 years old letter, which had made your life hell no wonder you are still holding onto it.
What have you earned by holding the grudge that long? Think Aniket. You and only you are on suffering side.
Does Meera know what you did? Aniket asked staring at the old man for the reply. He finally replied Yes, I told her the truth a few years back, post this she had cut off all communications ties with me, however, it took a lot of time for her to forgive me, but yes, she has accepted me and has moved on her with her life.
Sir – do you need tea? Aniket discussion was interrupted by the tea vendor who stood in front of him for selling tea. Yes, brother. Give 2 regular cups of tea, as Aniket reached out his pocket to take out money, the vendor then said – Sir, go for 1 larger cup its 15 rupees only instead of 10 Rs small cup.
How can I share my tea with the old man? I need 2 cups of tea, not 1, understood Aniket told the vendor in an irritating voice.
Which old man, are you talking about Sir – I do not see anyone here, the surprised vendor told him?
What? Are you crazy, can't you see this old man in white kurta-pyjama standing right next to me? Aniket got angry with the tea vendor. No wonder you must be drunk, that you cannot see a living person.
Aniket now stood from the bench to face the old man no one standing next to him. Only the tea vendor was standing in front of him, trying to understand what was going on.
How is it possible? I was sitting on this bench; he was standing right next to me, where the heck did, he disappears? Uncle, he shouted, however in vain.
Sir, I have been watching you for a long time from far but am sure I saw no one was there on the bench sitting next to you, neither the lady nor the old man.
It was only when I came nearby, I realised you were talking to yourself, the vendor told him.
Before Aniket could argue with the Vendor, his bus had finally reached the bus stop.
Without losing any time, he hurried towards the bus and got in as early as possible.
Though he got his seat, he could not sleep, he was wide awake.
What the hell did happen at the bus stop, he could not stop thinking. He tried to recollect whatever happened but was unable to connect the dots. The tea vendor did not saw Meera nor his uncle. Though Meera left with an excuse for the phone call, his uncle was right there. Wait a second was this all-imaginary event which happened with me, was I hallucinating, or this was some new tactics of the old man to make me more miserable? The whole journey was troublesome for him; he was not able to get answers no matter how hard he tried.
Finally, in the morning around 10.00 am, he reached Jaipur, but instead of reaching his home, he booked a cab to Meera's place.
Meera's place was like a temple for him, and he was there almost after 10 years. Nothing seemed to have changed. The place was as it is when he was here for the last time.
As he knocked on the door, the housekeeper –aunty opened the door.
Even after 10 years she recognised him immediately, asked him to come inside the house.
"I know it's a bit too early to come uninvited, however, wanted to meet Uncleand Meera immediately. If Meera has gone back to her in-law's place it is okay, Can I meet Uncle now?
The housekeeper excused herself and got some tea and biscuits for him. Aniket, have something first to eat, I will take you to meet them. He was in no mood to prolong this meeting anymore, however for formality sake; he finished his tea and few biscuits.
As the housekeeper opened the closed door, signalled him to go inside first while she followed him.
As soon as he entered the hall, he saw two photo-frames of familiar faces with a garland; they were Meera and Uncle frames on the wall.
Aniket was in shock, how is this possible, just yesterday I saw them and spoke to them? When did this happen? How is this possible? Was it in a car accident yesterday? Aniket was sweating badly as he threw these questions to the lady.
No, it has been 15 days since they had passed away. Yes, it was a car accident when they were coming from Ratlam after attending a marriage ceremony the housekeeper replied.
What did you just say you met them yesterday? Where? now the housekeeper was in shock.
To be continued