I sat at the bus stop, thinking about how the rest of the day had passed.
Arpit hadn’t been able to stop talking about Sneha. I had tried to suppress my yawns and had nodded in appropriate places. He asked me to join them for ice cream. I had politely declined. I didn’t want to be the third wheel. Besides, I was already overdosing on information about Sneha. Any more and I would have died.
I got on the bus and put my head phones on. My legs hurt. The evening practice session had been particularly intensive.
I noticed St. Peters come up and turned towards the entrance expectantly. I turned back when I felt some strange thumping on the side of the bus. I took off my headphones as the driver stuck his head out and screamed at someone.
I heard a familiar voice yell back, “Wait! Stop the bus.” A smile touched my face. I balanced my face on my palm and waited for him to get in.
“Wow, that’s a great smile.” He came sat behind me, his usual place.
“Thank you. You just made my day.” I said, remembering how the day had spanned out.
“Bad day?” He asked, his eyebrows coming together, showing concern. “Something wrong with your leg?” he asked as he saw me clutch my knee every now and then.
“You could say that. My best friend got a girlfriend.” I said dejectedly.
He threw his head back and laughed loudly, “Is that why you are clutching your leg?”
I scowled at him. I didn’t understand what I had said that was so funny. “No, of course not. I’m just a bit sore with all the running.”
“So why are you upset about your friend getting a girlfriend?”
“She’s not his type.” I said bluntly. He was a stranger, I could be mean and no one would ever know.
“I see,” he readjusted his cane’s position, “Why do you think she’s not his type?”
“She’s way out of his league.” As I said it, I realized it was true. On my part, it may have been a very horrid thing to say, but it was as simple as that.
“And you’re his friend?” He was mocking me now.
“I don’t have to justify myself to you.” I was already wondering why Arpit hadn’t thought about it yet. I put my headphones on to signal the end of the conversation.
After a while, I felt someone put their hand on my shoulder. Shocked, I pulled off my headphones and turned around.
He put up his hands defensively. “Hey, relax. Just thought you might want to know that the bus is taking a diversion.”
“What??” I looked around desperately. He was right. I walked over to the conductor who advised me to get off at the next stop. I walked back in a huff.
“So, what are you going to do?” He asked.
“Get off at the next stop and walk back. The conductor says it’s a fifteen minute walk from there.” I picked up my bag and made my way towards the door.
I heard some shuffling behind me.
“Here, take my phone. Call home and tell them what happened. And tell them I’m walking you home.”
I raised my eyebrows, “I’m doing no such thing.”
I got off as the bus slowed down. To my surprise so did he.
“What are you doing?” I was suddenly scared. I didn’t know where I was and this random person was stalking me.
“Look, you don’t know this area. I do. I don’t think you should be walking around alone. If you don’t let me walk with you, I’ll just follow you. Call your parents please.” He held out his phone.
I took the phone and called my mom. I didn’t tell her that a guy who I barely knew was walking me home.
“What’s his name?” My mum had asked.
I turned towards him, “Name?” I asked.
“My name?” He seemed genuinely surprised.
I nodded, “Quickly please.”