I wrote this short story as part of my Writing Portfolio for college. I don’t usually write short stories, but I had a lot of fun writing this one. It contains a wee bit of swearing ( you can thank my limited knowledge of Hindi swear words), so be warned!
As he stood before the mirror, Mohan took the comb out of his back pocket and quickly ran it through his freshly oiled hair. He’d chosen to wear his best silk shirt – the red one his mother had bought for his birthday last month. He had saved it for a special occasion, and here it was! The jeans, which flared at the bottom, were of the latest style – yellow at the thighs and ‘perfect fit’ at the crotch.
He left home slightly earlier than usual, so that he could go to the temple. As he folded his hands in front of the deity, he prayed quickly in his head : Krishnaji, give me the confidence to tell her my dil ki baat. She is my Radha, Krishnaji. You understand no. I will give my jaan for her. Give me the words to tell her, Krishnaji. Give me the courage. However, the temple visit took longer than he anticipated – he’d forgotten it was exam time, and the place was filled with anxious mothers and their dark-circled offspring, all who fervently wished for the same thing : first rank and a gold medal.
The bus was pulling out of the stop just as he reached it, so he had to break into a run – there was no way he was going to miss it. He nearly twisted his foot as he ran, and banged thrice on the back of the bus before the bus driver finally decided to stop. Saala chutiya, he cursed. But his anger ebbed quickly. Today, he would keep calm. Even if the behnchod conductor heckled him for correct change, he would keep calm.
Mohan knew she got on the stop after his, so his heartbeat began to quicken as the bus shuffled to a halt. Just like that first day he saw her, three months ago. It was the day after amma and he had moved into their new two room kitchen house (with attached toilet) and he was on his way to college. Still unused to the new bus route, he had waited an hour and half for the right bus. Unfortunately, that was also the first time he met the driver and the conductor, who had made life hell for him since then. It was during his first fight with the conductor that he first laid eyes on her.
With her long black plaited hair and her kajal-lined eyes, she immediately caught his attention. Rather, it was the bright multi-coloured hairband that did. Like most other college girls, she had a pack of friends beside her. But she was different. She didn’t were those tight-tight jeans and the short-short tops that all those besharam ladkiyaan – as amma called them – wore. Those were the types his friends preferred, the ones that were easy to score. No, his dreamgirl was a sanskaari ladki, who wore salwar-kameez everyday with a dupatta to cover her modesty.
His amma would be so proud of his choice!
Ever since then he had always tried to muster up the courage to say something to her. He had gotten so close the one time she had stood within talking – no, touching- distance. Saala chutiya driver must have been on his side that day, since the bus jerked to avoid a cow, and Mohan found his dreamgirl tumbling into his arms. As he reached forward to wrap his arms around that tiny, narrow, perfect waist Mohan found himself drowning in the pair of eyes that were now looking at him. His heart burst with love when he saw her droop her eyelids (in shyness, of course) as she gently pulled away. Who wouldn’t understand his reluctance to let her go?
From that day on, he had no doubt that his dreamgirl loved him too. She had looked at him exactly the way Kajol looked at SRK in DDLJ. Mohan was so sure he heard the mandolin in the background..
So now, finally, he had made a choice. The time was right, and more importantly, he had a job in a fancy, new call centre and could offer her her security. He had gotten the appointment letter the previous day, and now it was placed safely in his shirt pocket, ready to be pulled out when the final declaration of his feelings was made. With his resolve now even more determined, Mohan craned his neck from side to side to catch a glimpse of her.
The bus had now come to a complete halt. The women at her stop seemed to be more in number than usual. A majority of them also seemed to be dressed in their best clothes, and seemed to be looking tearfully on as a young ghunghat clad woman, decked out in a gold and red saree, was slowly shepherded to the door of the bus. Ah, thought Mohan, a newly wed-girl was going to her sasuraal!
He smiled to himself. Soon, another bidaai ceremony like this would happen on the same bus again but this time, the bride would be his dreamgirl. Maybe he would ask amma to get her a saree just like this one, a beautiful red and gold one – with more gold! Mohan’s smile became bigger as he dreamed up all the jewelry he would buy his dream girl, all the lovely clothes. Maybe even a nightie like those from the ads he saw on the walls of lingerie shops! That I can’t ask amma to buy, he giggled to himself.
The bus driver had graciously turned the ignition off when he realised that the tearful farewells were going to be lengthy, but now he was beginning to get annoyed. The bus had already stayed put five minutes longer than usual, and the women were showing no signs of letting up. The rest of the passengers were beginning to grumble, and Mohan too was getting impatient. Where was she! Had she missed the bus?
He hopped off, deciding to wait at the stop for her just in case she was running late. By this time, the bus driver had started the engine again, revving it up to signal to the women that their time was up. Behenchod conductor blew his whistle, and the bus began to move. At that moment the bride climbed the steps, and something tumbled out of her hair. Mohan bent forward to retrieve the object, but the bus had begun to pull away. As he stood up, Mohan caught a glimpse of the bride’s face.
The bus moved forward, picked up speed, and soon disappeared out of sight. Yet, Mohan stood rooted to the spot staring at it for a long time, clutching a multi-coloured hair band in his hand.