Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Truth in her eyes

Venu removed the small comb from his pocket and combed his hair. It was a futile attempt from him, because the bus we were travelling in, was going at such a speed that the wind swept his hair back and gave him the dishelved look, which I think is Venu's unique style. Maybe he forgot that he was sitting near the window of a speeding bus (that had already threatened to take the life of five dogs, three cows and 1 human being).

Ah! Love, I had heard that love is blind, but in case of Venu, love is a fool. I and Venu are friends from past 15 years, but I have never seen him behave in such a manner. Let me start from the beginning. All this nuisance began 2 months back when Venu first saw his dream girl and from then, my dear friend, Venu has been bitten by the dreadful love bug(mind you, more dreadful than the chikengunya and swine flu bug that had threatened the whole nation months back). We were travelling by the 9 o'clock local bus in the morning and we were in a hurry to reach our office. We work in one of the reputed Chartered Accountant’s office as junior accountants. We were already late and our manager, Mr. Mehta did not like his employees coming late to office (or leaving early, either).

The bus was unusually empty and luckily we had got 2 empty seats. It was raining heavily and the windows in our bus did not have any covering to protect the passengers from the lashing rain. Venu, who was sitting next to the window, was cursing loudly and I was thanking God (in my mind) that I was not sitting in Venu's seat. The bus stopped in the Kankapura bus stop. Suddenly I became aware that Venu had stopped grumbling and I looked at him. He was staring with his eyes (and also his mouth) wide open at someone (or something) outside the bus. I followed his gaze and saw a beautiful girl in a pink salwar kameez standing in the bus stop. She really was the most gorgeous woman, with her snowy white complexion, her wavy hair blowing softly in the wind, her luscious lips and her deep innocent eyes. There was a certain beauty in her eyes which were dark and intense and at the same time twinkling with mischievousness.

I know what you must be thinking, but no, it was definitely not me who fell in love with her. But she was a girl who any guy could fall in love with, without thinking twice, in fact, without thinking at all! I have a high resistance power against falling in love, and also, I have a highly possessive and jealous girlfriend called Seema. But unfortunately, Venu had neither (resistance nor girlfriend). So it was not a surprise when love struck like a lightning on Venu and he fell headlong in love with the "girl in bus stop".

"Ravi, she is magical. I don’t know who she is, but I am totally in love with her. Her eyes are so magical, I just can’t believe she is so beautiful. Yaar, Ravi, pinch me yaar, I think I am dreaming." Ever since we got down from the bus, Venu had not stopped blabbering about his dream girl. Seizing the opportunity, I pinched him real hard. "Ow, Ravi, I asked you to pinch me, not to take my flesh out. Idiot, why did you pinch me so hard".

I sighed and said "Venu, it’s better to wake you up from the dreams that you are seeing with your eyes wide open. I am sure she already has a boyfriend. She is so beautiful, thousands of guys would have proposed her. Also, why would she even look at you, I mean you are just an ordinary guy. You earn a decent salary, have a normal life. In short, you are boring. So just forget her and move on!".

Venu felt depressed and looking at his crestfallen face, I regretted speaking so harshly with him. But my words did their work and he did not utter another word about the "girl in bus stop". I did not want to squash Venu's new crush but falling blindly in love is a sure recipe for heart break and disaster.(I am not speaking from my previous experiences, sigh!)

Anyway, we did not see the girl for next few days and life returned to normal. Then, on next Thursday, we were again late for office and had to come by the same dreaded 9 o'clock bus. When the Kankapura bus stop approached, Venu sat upright peeping expectantly outside the window. This was his normal behavior in past few days and when he did not find his "dream girl" in the bus stop, he would look at me like a heart broken monkey.

But today, he jumped from his seat(almost making me, sitting next to him, fall out of my seat) and shouted, "Hey! She is there, she is there". The other passengers were looking at him in a "who-is-this-crazy-guy" manner. I surreptitiously elbowed him and said in a low voice, "I know, just shut your mouth, else these people in our bus will kick you out and you will be down on the road, in front of her". This made him sit down and he said in a much lower voice, "My God!, she is looking more beautiful than last time". Indeed, she was looking more enchanting than before. She had worn a black salwar kameez and her kohl lined eyes were hypnotizing most of the young guys standing in bus stop. I thought I could hear Venu's heartbeats amidst the noise in the bus. The bus had moved on, but Venu had turned his head 180 degrees( if that is possible) and was still staring at the girl. I shook him and said "You fool, she is gone, and you can turn back".

That day in the canteen as we sat drinking our tea, Venu was struck by a thought, "I think I can meet her only if I come in the 9 o'clock bus. I am going to change my shifts, Ravi. I am going to ask Mr. Mehta to put me in the 10 to 7 shift."

"Venu, don’t act like a donkey. There is no point in staring at her daily. Also, the bus is usually crowded. So you will not be able to get a window seat every day. Listen to me, forget about her."

But, obviously my words fell on deaf ears, because I came to know the same evening that, Venu had not only changed his shifts but also, was planning to catch the bus from the starting station. This was just to ensure that he would get a seat and have clear view of his beloved daily. Love makes people do lot of stupid things, doesn’t it?

After few days of travelling in the same bus, Venu came to know that the girl was in the bus stop only on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On these days, Venu dressed up extra smartly and was on an all-time high attitude. Then one day in lunch break, Venu came to me running and said, "Ravi, guess what happened today. You cannot. Ok, guess, please guess."

"Hmmm, an alien spacecraft landed in your front yard and you met Jaado?"

"Smart ass! You know my angel, she looked at me and smiled today. My God, I felt as if I had died and gone to heaven. She has such a sweet smile. My insides felt like a gooey mess, you know, like chocolate melting down. I think I love her. Yeah, I love my angel."

I was speechless for few minutes. Now, let me tell you that we had come to call the "girl-in-the-bus-stop" as "Angel"(obviously Venu's choice, not mine).

I feigned a smile on my face and said, "Venu, for practically a month you have been straining your neck and ogling at her! Definitely it’s pretty hard for her to ignore you, right?"

But Venu's enthusiasm could not be dampened and for next few days, he moved around in our office on cloud nine and screwed up most of his accounts work. Things turned to worse when Venu was called in to Mr. Mehta’s office and was heavily reprimanded for goofing up a financial report of our major client. I decided to intervene in Venu’s nonexistent love life and take things into my hand before Venu went totally berserk.

So, during one lunch break, I decided to broach “Angel’s” topic and in a casual tone asked, “Venu, why don’t you go and talk to your girl. Maybe you should take the next step forward or else one day she will get married and you will be sitting in your bus seat and she will be sitting in her husband’s lap”.

From the range of expressions flitting across Venu’s face, I realized that he liked this idea but he was scared of his girl’s sandals landing on his head or getting a real tight slap from her. So I decided to change track and explain in a different way.

“See Venu, I am not asking you to propose her right away. Just go and introduce yourself and speak in a friendly manner. Since you see each other daily, you will not be a complete stranger to her. At least go and find out her name so that you can stop calling her ‘Angel’. I mean seriously man, I feel like puking each time you call her that”.

Venu gave me a big smile and a huge hug and said, “You are absolutely right, Ravi, That’s why you are my best friend”. I just rolled my eyes and smiled.

This is how today, Saturday we were sitting in our bus waiting for Kankapura bus stop. I had come to give my moral support and also take Venu to a hospital, if the lady raised a commotion and people in the bus stop decided to take matters in their hands. (I did not tell Venu about this scenario).

“So Venu, does your girl smile at you always or is it only when you are dressed smartly?”

“No, actually she smiled at me only few times, but her smile is pure magic. Sometimes she listens to music when she waits for her bus. Sometimes she gives me a blank stare. Actually, I am not sure I should do this Ravi, I mean, what if she does not talk to me and stops coming to this bus stop. Then I cannot even see her.”

I silently cursed myself for opening my mouth and said “No Venu, you are doing the right thing. This is the right time to take the next step forward else your love story will never develop. Hell, don’t you watch movies”.

By this time, we had reached the stop and Venu turned to look at his ‘Angel’. Truly she was looking like a divine angel. The wind was softly blowing her hair and her eyes were creating havoc on most of the guys around her. I would not be exaggerating if I said almost all people had eyes on her. Men were busy admiring her and women were jealous of her. But there was something strange I had not noticed about her. She had kind of a blank stare as if she was staring at something directly in front of her but not actually seeing it.

We got down from the bus and Venu moved towards the girl and I stood at a road side chat stall, not far off, so that I could hear what Venu was saying. The events that occurred in the next few moments changed Venu’s life forever.

Before Venu could reach the girl, a bus moved into the stop with the conductor loudly announcing the bus destinations. The girl removed a collapsible cane from her bag and moved to the bus using her other outstretched hand for guidance. Venu was so dumb struck that he was standing still with his eyes displaying total disbelief. It was very clear that the love of his life was completely blind.

We skipped office and went to a coffee shop. Venu was holding his head in between his hands and was silent for long time. I decided to tell him what I came to know in the bus stop.

“I spoke to the guy in the chat stall. He is a local so he knew the girl. Her name is Neeta and her home is close to the bus stop. She lives with her mother and brother and she was not born blind. It seems that a year ago she was one of the most popular girls in her locality and she was studying in a reputed college. She was always lively and almost all the guys wanted to marry her. Her parents were getting lots of proposal for her daily, that too from good and affluent families. But she was in love with Naveen, a guy from her college. His family accepted her and it was decided that both would get married once they graduated from college. But fate had other plans. They had gone to a picnic from college. When they were coming back, their bus met with a horrible accident. Many were seriously injured, but only one person died. Yes, Naveen was killed in that accident and Neeta lost her eyesight in the same accident. After the accident, the people who wanted to marry Neeta considered her as cursed. Naveen’s family blamed her for his death and went around bad mouthing her and her family. The poor girl has suffered a lot. She had to drop out of college as she had lost her eyesight. She is working in a small company now and is happy in her life even though she has lost everything in her life to destiny. “

When Venu looked at me he had tears in his eyes. “Venu, what will you do now. If you really love Neeta you will want to be with her. Or are you like all other people and think of her as cursed.”

Venu did not answer me but just stood and went away. I got my answer two days later, on Monday, when I saw him at the bus stop standing next to Neeta and introducing himself. “Hi, I am Venu, I work as an accountant. I see you daily in this bus stop. If you do not mind, can I know your name please?” I was tensed for a moment but relaxed when Neeta smiled and extended her hand to greet Venu.

I just smiled to myself and thought in Venu’s case, love is really blind.

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