Friday, September 21, 2012

That Day

It all happened on that sunny crispy afternoon at the park. It was in the month of March, early March, that’s when the afternoons are sunny and crispy. There was a cool breeze blowing. And I was sitting on a bench under the shade of a Peepul tree. There weren’t too many people at the park that day. Well, it was a mid-week day and most people; I presume work on a mid-week day. So there I was on the bench.

Okay, to clarify, I also work on a mid-week day. But today morning when I left for work; I absent-mindedly got on to a wrong bus. When I realized it, my first thought was to get off and go back and take the right bus. But on second thoughts, I decided to stay put and bunk work for the day. So I sat in the bus looking out of the window, taking in my city, throwing off all useless thoughts out of my mind, and deciding to enjoy the day. I got off at the last bus stop and began walking. My city looked beautiful today. The people in my city looked beautiful today. The old magnificent heritage buildings on this northern part of the cityhad the air of having been an abode to emperors and aristocrats who ruled the city. The trams passing by at their own lazy pace seem to keep up with the pace of my idle thoughts. And as I also kept walking slowly, trying to keep up to the same pace I reached in front of the park. The roll shop at the entrance of the park made me conscious of the rumble in my stomach, which, incidentally was also competing with the rumble of the passing tram.

So I bought my favorite roll, which is a mutton roll, which is chunks of mutton in the roll and some additional mutton chunks in the roll to fill up the absence of the cucumber salad in it. I sat on the bench under the Peepul tree in the park like I mentioned earlier. And right opposite to where I was sitting, munching on my mutton roll, there on a similar bench under a similar Peepul tree she sat reading a book and scribbling something in a notebook that lay on her lap. She wasn’t too thin, or too fat. She didn’t seem very tall. It was difficult to gauge her features from the distance but she seemed pretty. She was wearing a loose fit checked red shirt and blue jeans. Her hair was tied in a braid. She was bespectacled. I also noticed that she wrote with her left hand. People who are left handed have, for some strange reason, always intrigued me. She must have felt my gaze on her because she suddenly stopped scribbling and stared at me. I continued to stare back. Now that I got a good look at her I realized that she seemed very familiar. She also gave me a look of familiarity. But I just could not place her. She neither. She shrugged and turned back to her scribbling. But now it started irritating me. It happens to me. When one bit of my brain tries something and the other bit does not acknowledge, the two bits start confusing me. And with the confusion comes frustration and then irritation. No, I was not going to let this spoil my day. So I left the comfort of my bench and I walked up to her. Oh, I had gobbled up the roll by then.

“Hi, Umm sorry but you seem very familiar.” Argh! No! What did I just say? Of all the lines in the whole wide world I had to pick up the most clichéd, common, corny, filmy line. I loathed myself for this.

She looked up at me, her spectacles slipping down her nose, raised her eyebrows and said with a very matter of fact tone, “Yes, I do.” And she got back to her scribbling.

That’s it! Yes, I Do. Nothing more! Nothing about how, where, what, when. Just ‘Yes, I Do’. It’s then that I realized that I was standing there, staring at her, like a big fat baboon. Okay this was now leading to maddening exasperation. I went and sat next to her on the bench. Yes, under the Peepul tree.

“Umm, Hi again. Umm, could you just…, I mean is it possible for you to explain where we have met.”

“No.” She didn’t even look up this time.


“I said, No” This time she did glance up.

“Okay, Listen. This is really troubling me. You are trying to say, that you know where you know me from; but you won’t tell me where you know me from?”

“Yes.” No glance this time again.

“But… why?”

“I don’t want to.” No glance again.

By now I was getting desperate. “Listen, will you please, please tell me, this is really getting on my nerves.”

This time she looked at me. She smiled. She had a beautiful smile. “Don’t you travel in the no. 45 bus every day?”


“The front row, window seat, to the right.”


“You get off near the church.”


“You got in to the wrong bus today.”

“Yes, do you travel in the same bus?”


“Then how do you know?”

She smiled, ah that lovely smile again.Oh such a familiar smile. How could I not remember her.

From a distance away we heard a shout.I looked and saw someone looking exactly like her. A similar familiar face. She said, “That’s my twin calling me. I got to go.” And she got up and started walking. I said,"wait." I hurriedly got up and walking behind her I shouted, “No, wait!” I then stumbled and fell down. When I got up and looked around, she was gone. I ran to the gate. But I couldn’t find her anywhere. I franctically looked everywhere around. I couldn't see her.

Dejected,I came back to the bench and sat. Yes! Yes, the Peepul tree was still over me. I noticed that she had left her notebook behind. I picked it up to see what she had scribbled.There was just one line written over and over again.The line was, “This will haunt you for life!”

It does!


  1. This is a delightful read. Pulls the reader in and leaves him hanging till the end. Well-written.

  2. Extremely well written. Keeps the reader to wonder. The shade of darkness (if I may say so) is just brilliant. Very well concieved and woven plot. The beauty is that it doesnt end even at the end.

  3. xcelent work... cant read it in more thn 1 sittin.. superb

  4. This,is a delightful read?..I feel like having climbed a tree from which I am unable to get down.Ms.Rout,you with your dignified mastery over your linguistic abilities ,which you flaunt quite often nowadays, ever ask me to read one of your inconclusive literary will be a dead meat.

  5. Good read. Keeps you wanting more. Except the ending.
    There really is no ending to this story.

  6. Can't you write about people who are normal like me? Your protagonist is always so orphic and scary...... :O

    - Tarun

  7. No Tarun, my protagonist are very normal. Try to find yourself in them :D


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