Print Edition - 2018-06-06  |  The Collegian

A Love Note

- Pratik Mainali

Jun 6, 2018-

The hills of the west looked like gentle ripples and stretched as far as the eyes could see. Below them, in a narrow valley, the blazing sun beat down on the dust-ridden roads. An old bus rattled onwards leaving behind black smog and whirls of dust.

As the advancing bus tore through the silence, the passengers could feel the wind lashing at the windows. Inside the bus, the passengers were soaked in sweat. Some were impatiently tapping at the window and whistling. As the vehicle passed over a bridge, people craned their necks to see a river, a trailing white ribbon that ambled into the horizon. It was quite the scenery—the emerald forests on one side and golden fields on the other. Meanwhile, Sujan has his eyes fixed solely on the shadow of the bus, floating along the road. The smell of dust, excrement and dry fields is a peculiar smell, so Sujan slid the window shut. Eventually, the dust settled. Sujan looked down to find the bus heaving and sloshing along a muddy road. He pulled the window back open. The road had been crisscrossed by tire markings from the previous vehicles that had come this way. In the sky, black clouds gathered and offered respite from the sweltering sun. A stream of sweat ran down Sujan’s back so he unbuttoned his topmost button and loosened his tie.

He looked back at the rolling hills. They seemed to be impossibly far away. Hadn’t they just reached the plains a few minutes ago? A cloud of flies buzzed into the bus and agitated the passengers. The bus stopped and with it stopped the roar of the engine and that constant clattering sound. For a second there was an unnerving silence. “Toilet break,” shrieked the conductor, breaking the silence with his prepubescent voice. Sujan rose up but then decided not to go. I’ll reach home in 15 minutes, I can hold it. A bearded man, seated besides Sujan, who seemed to tremor with excitement, lunged at the door, and disappeared into the woods. Sujan sat calmly in silence. Fifteen more minutes. Patiently, he listened to the trees rustling, dead leaves crunching under footsteps, and the breeze whistling. He even managed to hear water gurgling somewhere. With no other vehicles in sight, they had the entire highway to themselves. Soon it grew unbearable so he decided to walk out.

As he walked, gripping the seats tightly, the bus tilted and shook. From the door, an elegant woman emerged and walked towards him. As she neared, she tripped on the seat and fell in his arms. Sujan could feel his heart swell as the woman’s slender arms embraced him. Her smell made his cheeks blush. He held her by the shoulders and helped her up.

“Are you all right?”

“I’m all right,” she said blankly. Then she casually walked past the file of seats until she reached hers and sat down, as if nothing had happened. When he came back, the bus was full. He was coated in mud, white as chalk, but he didn’t know that.

As the bus pulled away, the lady looked back at him. His heart lurched. He pretended to be

rummaging through his pocket. He felt a cold piece of paper and narrowed his eyes. Producing it from his pocket, he glanced at it. “I Love You”. The bus jolted and the paper fell onto the road.

“Itahari”, said the conductor. Sujan shuddered, and hastily carried his bags. As the bus stopped, Sujan stepped down on the cobblestone pavement. He made his way past the crowd of people. On the ground, the cobblestones looked like a complex jigsaw puzzle. He disappeared into the labyrinth of houses. As he entered the gulley, his brows widened and he staggered back. The girl was walking nonchalantly towards him. As she reached him, she stopped. Her brows raised, “God, I’m glad. You came to the exact place.” Sujan managed to smile. He hadn’t been able to read the other side of the paper.

Mainali is a BIBM student at  Herald College, Kathmandu

Published: 06-06-2018 07:33

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