I was on my way to the bus stop near my house. It was 9 o'clock and I was already late. Luckily, just before I crossed the road, I saw PP19, the bus which directly goes to my project centre.
I ran across the road and got on to the bus and the bus started to move. I made my way past the crowd, to the conductor and asked for a ticket to NIEPMD hospital. The conductor gave a sympathetic look and said, "this bus goes only till VGP-Injambakkam. Get down there and take the next bus to the hospital." and he handed over the ticket to me. So much for having run to catch a bus that crowded! I was already late to the lab and the fact that I had to change two buses added to my frustration. And the thought of standing there in the crowd for the next one hour, didn't help. I squeezed myself through the passengers and stood where I could at least breathe some fresh air. I had to kill time so I plugged in my earphones to listen to music. The bus reached the terminal after what seemed to me like an eternity.
I got down only to see a direct bus right behind. "I should have waited two more minutes before taking this crowded bus!" I cursed myself and took the direct bus. I gave ten rupees to the conductor and asked for a ticket to the NIEPMD hospital stop. He threw me a weird look as he tore the ticket off the machine and gave it to me. By then, I was used to such weird looks. The hospital is a care centre for multi-disorder and specially challenged people. The research centre where I was doing my project is the only other place with people, next to the hospital, on the deserted road. And since the project centre is pretty much away from the road, very few people know about its existence. I got the ticket from the conductor & sat in an empty seat next to a girl. Another twenty minutes & I would reach my lab. My thoughts began to drift off to the busy day that lay ahead of me. As I sat there prioritizing the tasks in my mind, I noticed the girl who was sitting beside me. She was wearing a simple white & red cotton salwar-kurta and her dupatta covered her head.
She was looking through the window, deep in her thoughts. So I could not see her face. Just then her mobile rang and she turned to answer the call. I was able to see only her eyes, since the rest of her face was covered with her dupatta. “Pretty eyes” I thought, as she spoke into her mobile. Her eyes were quite big, or at least they looked quite big for the dupatta-covered-face. She had applied kajal and the long curls of her eyelashes brushed her brow bone. Her eyebrows were shaped neatly. Altogether, they were very pretty. I wondered if she had a pretty face too, behind that red-white dupatta. She was still over phone, speaking to someone in Hindi. My stop was nearing and I didn’t want the conductor to miss the stop. The place is so deserted that hardly anybody would get onto the bus from that stop so there were chances that the bus would go straight past the stop. I took my umbrella out of my bag and got up from my seat. I reached the exit of the bus and turned to look at the conductor only to see the girl with ‘pretty eyes’ standing near the other exit . She was still talking over the phone. “Is this her stop?” I thought and I felt an urge to tell her what place it was. Apart from the hospital there was no other building near the research centre. I was pretty sure I had not seen this girl in my lab because I knew everyone there. I glanced at her once more & shot her the same confused – weird look that the conductor gave me. “Is having pretty eyes a disorder?” I asked myself. The conductor saw us waiting to get down & blew the whistle for the bus to stop. The bus stopped & we got down.
I opened my umbrella & started to walk to my research centre. I could hear her steps behind me. I decided that she must be a nurse or receptionist or care taker in the hospital. As I approached my work-place and began to fill the visitors' register, I paused for a second to think of the date. “28.1.2012” came a voice from behind. I turned around to see it was the pretty-eyed girl. She had removed the dupatta off her face. “She is beautiful” I thought, as she smiled at me. I thanked her, filled the date in the book and handed her the pen. Curious to know who she was, I stood there reading what she wrote in the register, pretending to keep my umbrella in my bag. “Megna - Project at Crustacean culture Division” she wrote. “Oh! So this is why I don't know her.” I thought. She was doing her project in a different lab. I had not seen her before because she had never taken the same bus as me. I smiled at her and rushed off to my lab.