The Journey (Not a short story)

Hi all,

Thought it's high time I returned where I belong. I've kept away from nearly everything for long and I guess, it has not done me good. Hm... Anyways, here I'm - back again in Blogosphere. I wonder how many of my friends remember me and how many I can catch up with.

I started writing this as a short story but towards the end I realised that it has too much of a personal and biographical touch to it. So, instead of posting it in my creative writing blog, I thought it's best posted here. This pretty much tells you what kept me away from all of you.

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The bus rolled down to a halt at one of the many bends of the Ghats. The scene outside my window is one of those breath taking ones – the deep green slope that runs down into even greener plains, the distant blue trickle of a stream, the birds hovering a few feet below me, the myriad hues of the evening sky, the scattered clouds, the blushing orange sun standing half veiled by the horizon…

I don’t remember when I began this journey. I didn’t even begin this journey with my knowledge. As long as I remember, I’ve been sitting at this window seat, right behind the driver, seeing one scene changing after another. Sometimes the ride was a sail along golden paddy fields and lovely streams, and at other times, along bumpy mountainous terrains… All I know is that I’ve been in this journey for long.

And the driver… Oh! How I hate him.

He smells bad like a rotten corp. He is bulky like an overfed walrus, his fat arse spilling over his seat. He is dark like a panther. He has blood-shot eyes and dirty, unkempt and bushy mustache. He snores like a siren when he sleeps and yawns like a sick lion when he wakes up. Oh the smell when he yarns!

I’ve tried talking to him but he never listens. Sometimes I feel he is deaf but I know he is not. I haven’t seen him talking to anyone else either. He sits there, riding the bus through routes that suits his fancy and at times stopping for him to take rest.

Sometime, in between this long journey, someone had once told me that the driver’s name is Lionely Spervert, pronounced with the ‘i’ of the first name and ‘s’ of the second name silent. He had also told me that he is not someone to be messed around with.

Since then I’ve kept my guard, avoiding his bloody glares, swearing at him and cursing him under my breath.

There are times during the journey when I think about my destination. Where am I heading to? I’m not sure. Even the occasional friends who have shared the seat with me for a brief period never asked me. I always find them reaching their destination and bidding me good-bye. And then I never see them again.

Nevertheless, my journey continues…

So far, I’ve had three different and important people who have joined me in my journey but who have got down a little too early for my liking.

The first person was called Dad. I’ve never met a finer person than him. He was much elder to me but we struck a joyful rapport as if by some cosmic command. I still remember his pepper and salt, long beard and the endearing looks in his eyes. He used to entertain me with such lovely stories and songs. And he was a very soulful singer indeed. It’s not surprising that the songs that I still keep humming are the ones introduced to me by him.

I don’t remember him promising me that he’d be with me throughout the journey. No. I don’t think he did. Yet I always feel betrayed and cheated not by him but by the same ‘cosmic command’ whenever I think about the moment that he left me. And he left me even without a proper ‘good-bye’.

But I don’t have any hard feelings for him. I know he didn’t leave me on his own accord. He left me because he had to. He reached his destination and the rule of this journey doesn’t allow him to stay any longer. Probably that’s why he never stood to bid me farewell. Maybe it’s true that the best good-byes are said without saying the word.

Anyways, he has left his songs for me and I’ll keep humming them till the end.

The second person came long after he left. She is probably someone who I’ll never forget. Her name is Jasmine but with the smell of some wild flora, albeit an intoxicating one. She always reminds me of a blue-black moth in some deep woods. I don’t know whether she made herself that way but she was a tough nut to crack for herself. She was weird in many ways. Yet I took a fancy for her.

She came and sat beside me. Did I invite her? I don’t know. Maybe I did. Nevertheless, it was fun. She had many tricks up her sleeves. She charmed me with her (un) feminine ways. She kindled the photographer in me which I never knew existed. She shared with me an interest in nature but her lens always focused on the darker side when mine was hungry to capture all the colours and vibrancy of the same Mother Nature.

At some point in time, she promised me that she’ll be my constant companion through this journey, no matter where the destination is. I made the mistake of believing her.

Suddenly one day, I found her sitting with a stranger who got in from somewhere along the way. I called her back but she never returned. And then I saw them both getting down at some godforsaken place along the route. Were their destinations the same? Or did they get down to board another bus? I don’t know.

Then on, for some time I stopped noticing anything that happened outside my window. I didn’t notice all those who boarded or got down the bus. She took all my thoughts with her and left me empty. And so, with those empty eyes, I kept staring outside my window.

I don’t know how long I kept staring but something changed, somewhere, sometime…

Suddenly I found this third person sitting beside me. I’ve seen her before, sitting at the back seat with her parents. She has smiled at me whenever I looked at her. I don’t know when she walked down and took the seat beside me.

Now, this is someone I know I’ll miss for a lifetime just like I miss Dad because like him, she too had to leave me against her will.

Her name is Sweet. Yes. That’s how I’d like to call her because everything about her was nothing short of pure sweetness – her looks, her voice, her love for me… Yes. It was a sweet-sweet love I’ve ever had.

Talking about her smell, I can’t say whether she smelled of honey or milk. All I know is that it was a very sweet smell.

And just like Dad, she used to sing such beautiful songs. But unlike Dad’s, it’s her voice rather than the songs that I’ll carry along in this journey. But the thing that will remain etched in my memory will be the tears of agony that she held back when she was forced to say good-bye to me.

She said: “It hurts to part ways with you, it hurts me to hurt you but…”

And she got down where her parents had to get down. They never forced her to get down with them but neither did they let her stay back. I thought I could return her ‘good-bye’ without saying the word but I couldn’t. In fact, I uttered more words than I thought I should. I tried waving at her when the bus started moving again. But none of my words reached her. She didn’t see me waving at her, asking her to get back into the bus. She never looked back perhaps because it hurt her to see me getting hurt.

Tired with all the waving of hands and calling out to her, I slumped into my seat and drifted into a brief slumber.

Will I see her again? Will I hear from her again? I wish I do but I know I won’t for that’s the rule of this journey. And remember, Mr. Spervert is not someone to be messed around with.

I see that the sun has gone down. The sky, for most part is indigo and there’re patches of purple, orange and yellow where the growing night has devoured the day. The moon is already up with her battalion of twinkling stars to raid the night sky and an owl hooting out their arrival.

Mr. Spervert growled louder than the engine of the bus. I hear the shifting of gears now. The bus is about to move. My seemingly, unending journey continues...