Thursday, February 15, 2007

The wait

She sighed in relief as she sent the final email, and looked at the clock on her monitor. 5 54. She had just six minutes to catch the six o clock bus. She looked around carefully to see if the project lead was around. He wasn't. She just had to get out before the loudmouth caught her again and assigned some other task to her. The date was originally at five - she had called and postponed it to seven already. She couldn't wait any longer. She had waited all week to see him, and she really couldn't wait any longer.

She slid out from her cubicle, aiming to visit the restroom before she could catch the bus. But she heard the loudmouth from the general direction of the restroom, and couldn't risk being seen by him. Besides, her watch now showed 5 57. She would have to hurry if she had to catch the six o clock bus. With a silent request to her bladder to cooperate for another hour, she turned and headed for the door.

Her decision turned out to be correct. The buses were just revving up as she reached the parking area, and she only just managed to get into her bus. She sat down thankfully and watched as the buses crawled out of the campus onto the road.

It always seemed like the bus drivers were too fast and rash. But today, their driver seemed to be taking his own time. The bus danced merrily across the humps and potholes, and the driver made no attempt to hurry. She couldn't bear it. She willed him to go faster. But neither the roads, nor the traffic aided that. She just sat and watched the trees go by slowly, painfully slowly.

The traffic built up and slowed to a crawl. The bus driver started steering towards a side road that had lesser traffic, but was so narrow that it was prone to traffic jams. She prayed fervently that he wouldn't take that road, and if he did, that it would be free of traffic. But the driver just had to take the side road, and within a couple of minutes, they were in the midst of a terrible jam. She sighed, and leaned back in her seat. She just had to relax. There was no point worrying - it wouldn't help clear the jam. She closed her eyes. He floated into view in her mind's eye, and she involuntarily smiled. And then she felt the urgency again. When will this blasted jam clear up??

After an unbearable ten minutes, the bus moved again. It cleared the major bottleneck and reached the wide main roads. She sighed with relief. Now only if all the signals were in their favour - she would be there in time. But no, they did have to get stuck at the first major signal. Now they would have to stop at every signal for sure. She looked at her watch, and wished that the traffic would move as quickly as the minute hand in her watch.

After interminable waits at innumerable signals, they reached the final stretch. Just one more signal to go, and then she could alight, and he would be there. It was already fifteen minutes past seven. She was late, and she knew he would already be waiting. The bus stopped at the final signal. She resisted the urge to jump out and run the last few meters - it was far too foolish, and dangerous. The light finally turned green, the bus moved and arrived at her stop. She was already at the door, and was jumping out even before the bus stopped.

She walked quickly to the usual meeting place. Turning the corner, she saw him, a lone figure, standing patiently, watching the traffic go by. As she trotted up to him, he turned, and their eyes met. He smiled.

A wave of warmth swept through her. She relaxed completely in the comfort of his presence. It was worth it, she found herself thinking. The agony, the urgency, the tension, the endless wait - it was all worth it.

Now all she had to do was find a loo.
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Update: What would "He" have been doing all this while, waiting for "Her"? Viky tells you. Read his fabulous story here!

34 comments:

Prashanth M said...

hilarious!!! and a beautiful narration...

raj said...

Bang on! This is "Bangalore-Biggie-Blues".... plight of every employee, working for a software biggie and commuting on Hosur Road!

praneshachar said...

nice write up and narration is just beautiful. your write up is just "kannige kattida hage varnisiddira"
keep going all the best

anoop said...

you seem to have perfected the art of story telling: " The ability to tell someone else's stories as if they are your own and tell your stories as if they are someone else's "
nice narration.

Full2 Faltu said...

Nice one! Especially the last line! Relief from seeing him and relief of the other kind.

Nice one!

-Punds

Sandesh said...

expected something like this! BTW who is she n who is he?? how did you get this in yo mind??

chitra said...

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!! Yen anti-climaxu!!!

Anonymous said...

The narration is too good and the story is very much true. I can only say that this is experienced by most of us most of the time.

Last year when I was visiting Bangalore, I had promised to reach MG Road by 7:00 PM and inspite of literally waiting in queue for 'autorickshaw' (believe it or not, it's true) and finally ending up sharing an auto, i reached 45 minutes late!

Shruthi said...

Prashanth, Praneshachar, thank you!

Raj, yup you got it just right :)

Anoop, hmm... that was a clever deduction ;) .. and a pretty major compliment, I must say! Thanks :)

Punds, exactly! Thanks!

Sandesh, like Raj and Anon say, it is the story of every other person that we know!

Chitra, DhaDaar, huh? ;)

Anon, thanks! In queue for an auto? Whew! Yup... in Bangalore we always say something like, "Let's meet at seven, traffic permitting". That means, I might even land up at eight. Sigh!

Chaitanya said...

Oh an anti-climax!. The write up almost led me to think like, 'she will realize at the stop that the meet was yesterday' or something like that :-) Anyway, enjoyed it!

In our nightmares usually such things happen when we just can't be on time for the most important exam or meet, due to various such troubles on the road. Is that why we call our traffic nightmarish?

Viky said...

"The find"

A right-click on the "Safely Remove Hardware" and he pulled put his USB drive and shut his computer down. It was not time to leave yet, but he was done with this work. He would come on Monday and wrap it up. His manager was off today, so he could leave any time he wanted. He looked at this watch, and mentally calculated that he had time enough to go home and shower before he left for his date.

A shower and an hour later, he was driving up and down the road, searching for a place to park his car. It was almost time, and he did not want to be late (Not for a date!!! Not when he could hear her the restlessness in her voice when she called). His phone rang almost as soon as he pulled into a lone spot and beeped the doors shut. Was she there already? She never arrived on time, at least not before time. As he answered the phone, he saw there were close to ten minutes to 5.

Surprised, he answered, "Yes, sweetie, I'm almost there."

As he spoke into his microphone, the surprised look on his face turned into a "I knew it" look. She'd be late. It was that unorganised manager of hers - who always sprang up last minute meetings and conference calls. He often wondered why she didn't just show him the finger. It wasn't like he didn't understand, he just wished her manager was as organised as his. His manager drew a lot of work from him too, but respected time, and gave sufficient notice.

Two hours!!! Whatever would he do for two hours. He couldn't obviously unpark his car now, he would then have to spend the two hours looking for an empty space. He looked around and found a pub across the street, next to Crossword. He stood there and thought - the pub or the bookstore? He chose the latter - in any case he had to come here alone. She was no voracious reader, and countered every offer to go to the bookstore by suggesting something more interesting, like a walk along the lake, or dinner at his place. On the days she did come in with him, she made herself comfortable in the music section. She listened to all the new arrivals until he came over with a big bundle of books and tapped her shoulder, to which she would sweetly say "Finished?". He smiled as he passed the jukebox on his way to the non-fiction section.

A bartender's guide to the best cocktails reminded him of his drink, and he left the store and entered the pub. As he sat on the bar and sipped his beer, he wondered where she might be now. In her office? Had she left, or had her manager produced another rabbit out of his unorganised mess of a hat? One beer followed another, and close to 7, he came out having drained almost as much as he drank (beer does that to you, you know) and walked to the place they met usually.

He saw her get down even before the bus stopped, but his eyes followed a noodle-strap whizz by on a bike. As she trotted up, he turned again, and smiled. She clutched his arms and pulled him towards the shops, "Let's go to Crossword". He couldn't believe what he heard. Was it the beer or had she developed a sudden interest in books?

His sudden flight of curiosity crash-landed when she opened the door marked "LADIES".

Shruthi said...

Chaitanya, that was correctly said ;)

Viky, I have no words. No words. Ok let me try -- That was magnificent!!! :))

vidya said...

very vivid narration. i know , in some roads of Bangalore only two of the four wheels would be on the ground.and the conclusion is almost O.Henry-ish

Viky said...

Thanks, Shru, I wish I could be as detailed as you, though!!!

A case of "Physician, Heal thyself" occurs now, as Grammar Alert points out that the last line in the first paragraph of my comment should read "looked at HIS watch, and not THIS watch".

Needless to say, it was a fantastic story. Most of the early commenters had summed up my point, so I thought I'd spin my own yarn!!!

The detailing prompts me to say it was a personal experience - but something tells me its not of now...I don't know if it happened earlier and resurfaced now!!! If its not a personal experience, then I think its the first fiction piece on your blog.

Shruthi said...

Vidya, that's true! In fact, four wheelers sometimes do need to go on only two wheels if they have to squeeze through the traffic :o

Viky, answers to your doubtful analysis in your inbox. Btw, this is the second "story" on my blog - The first one is here.

Btw, since we are already nitpicking, there is a situational error in your tale. She gets down from the bus and then turns the corner and then sees him. How could he see her jumping out of the bus even before it stopped?
Well, a minor detail, that's all :)

Sachin said...

Aha...."The Circle of Life" was good in its own way....and "the Wait" has its own life....but in both I can sense the that the whole story is going to culminate in a tight ending... Why don't you move both these into a seperate blog dedicated to fiction? Maybe that will make you write more such gems?

Have been meaning to write one myself for some time now...lets see!!

Maverick said...

ok a personal question, was tht 'she' u?

veena shivanna said...

fantastic...! Old memories refreshed!! You narrate so well prof..

We might as well request HDK to put in some 'Ladies Rooms' in the metro tunnels.. :-)

Shruthi said...

Sachin, I don't think I have that much material in me for a blog of its own :)) These are just occasional flashes of inspiration ;) Looking fwd to read your stories, btw :)

Maverick, it could be.:) And it need not be either! :) Does it really matter? why do you ask? :)

Veena, that I am sure will be a welcome move!

Viky said...

He could see her jumping from the bus, even though she was on the other side of the corner, because the corner was an empty site :)

Muhahahaha!!!!!

sureshg said...

I am not a great story reader! but this story swallowed me fast! Lighthearted, racy, well captured & made me feel light. Well done Shruti- I really enjoyed it.

Bahala chennagi bareetheera neevu.

Cheers

Gauri said...

Beautifully narrated and the build up to the end of the narration was excellent !!

First time tour of your blog Shruthi - am sure going to be visiting regularly.

Ciao

Cuckoo said...

Lollll...

You are funny !! And nice narration.. Keep it up !

Shruthi said...

Viky, yeah yeah empty site indeed! Then why did she see him only when she turned the corner? Huh? :D

Suresh, Gauri, Cuckoo, thank you! :)

Sachin said...

Thanks, Shruthi! Hope I don't end up making you wait too long! :)

Btw, is it only me or everyone who can't see the whole navigation bar on Shruthi's blog? Can't see the archives, old posts and the Blog Roll as well. :(

Viky said...

Because, Shru, there were creepers and shrubbery entangled in the barbed wire fencing which enclosed the corner site. Now you'll ask me how HE could see. Because for one, he is tall, and for another, she was standing on the footboard, waiting for the bus to slow down to a pace at which she could hop off. So when he is tall and she is on a footboard (at an elevation from the ground), she is at a height higher than the tallest point of the fencing. Now you will ask me if so, why she didn't see him. Because for one, she had a more pressing need than search him out while standing on the footboard. Two, she was also looking to get down, so her eyes were mainly on the road, mostly gauging when to let go. And when she alighted, she was no more at the viewing height. You see, my dear, the fencing is just above her eye-level and just below his. YES!!! *pumps fist into air*

Sachin, I know it!!! After her masterstroke of a last line, madam has drawn a couple of lines, before putting an update. Now the length of these lines is such, that on some browsers, it wraps the post to that length, and pushes the block having the archives and blogroll to the bottom of the page. I had the same problem at office.

Shruthi said...

Sachin, Viky's got the answer! Will modify the post immediately :)

Viky, problem solver, bug-fixer - maan gaye. :))

Prashanth M said...

ha ha, nice sequel by Viky... ROTFL...

And btw you have been tagged. Please do the needful :)

Viky said...

Widest grin EVER :D

Supremus said...

ROFL!! this was hilarious! too good!

Sanjay M said...

great read (with really cool conclusion) of both post as well as follow up by viki ! :)

Spirited arguments really made my day! Looking forward to next one! :)

Shruthi said...

Prashanth, will do it very soon!

Viky, see, I made someone smile! Worth bowing gracefully out of an argument! :)

Suyog, thanks :)

Sanjay, thanks! :) As for arguments, go to any blog where Viky comments, and enjoy! :)

Viky said...

YOU made someone smile?? :O
*Pin drop silence ensues as he draws his breath in*
Dramatic Long Pause
Had I not written "his" version, you wouldn't have pointed out a non-existent flaw, and I wouldn't have defended it, this argument would not exist, and no one would have smiled. So there!!!! :D :D

And, pray, why are you painting my picture as though I am walking with a hatchet, scratching my leg (kal kerkonDu), searching for something to argue!!! Grrr...Wait till I get my hands on you, I will conveniently forget that you fit the "lady" part in what we call lady-monster. :D

Sanjay, Don't go to any other blog, instead delve into the posts of this blog only. I am seen only on this side of the moon!!!

Viky said...

Viky:*Fuming* Bowing out indeed!!!
Viky: It's ok, man...
Viky: She bowed out? My foot!!!
Viky: Ok, she didn't bow out. You won fair n square, ok?
Viky: Not ok!!! She bowed out, didn't she? To get back, I will call her names, scratch lines on her posts and will not spell-check her blog for three days!! Hmph!!

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