“To hell with this traffic”, Mi talked to herself while she tried to get a comfortable place to cross the busy road in Delhi. Mi, a simple yet ambitious girl; has just come to the metro city to accomplish her dreams. Mi has never been out of her native place Jharkhand, since childhood. Whenever her friends discussed about their vacation trips, she would recall the only time she went out of Jharkhand – Kolkata. She was 10 year old when family had gone to attend the funeral of her grandmother to a town near Kolkata. She hardly knew what was happening around her, what her father must be going through…she was too immature to understand the matter of life & death. While travelling through Kolkata roads (the only time they spent in the city), she just knew that one day she would be in a big city like Kolkata. Now with the responsibility of her mother and 2 young sisters after her father’s death, her time has come to realise this dream.
It’s her first month in Delhi. With the help of her father’s second cousin sister and her family she was able to get a job as a sales girl in a big showroom of one of the huge malls in Delhi. It was her turn to travel on her own after being given the instruction for a week now.
As she stands at one side of the road, looking for an opportunity to cross; she recalls how safe she felt in Kolkata with her father around. While some old memories stuck her mind, the bunch of people standing next to her started crossing the road and just to be in the middle of this small crowd to cross the road; she stepped ahead slightly late. Though she tried to match the pace with others who are used to this daily routine, she fell back. Now she was there….in the middle of the road, in front of the cars pulling the breaks with that screeching sound. She managed to gather some will to get up, but could not move ahead when she saw few heads peeping out of the car in anger …shouting at her. “Where have I come??? Why am I here? What if someone had ran over me? Who would have informed my mother?”….Why, where, what, who, where, what, why…all these words were now playing crossword in her mind as she was standing there in the middle of the road just like a statue at Madame Tussauds’ Museum. A small tiny tear fell out of her eye, she tried to catch hold of her racing heart but it only made tears come out more frequently now…from both eyes. People were shouting at her to move aside, some were moving their cars to make a way for themselves from the sides. This made Mi stand where she was cos traffic started moving ahead. In the middle of this mess, a hand held hers and pulled her forward to cross the road. She followed the hand till the time she was at the other side of the road. Soon a face appeared too…or rather, soon she noticed the face too, which was shouting at her. “Are you mad or what? Don’t you know how to cross the road? Which school did you go to?? Or were you up for a suicide?”. These questions were falling on her ear drums and were just making her more restless, her tears were now stronger and cry even more louder. eM felt embarrassed as people who crossed by were staring at him. “No one is stopping by to help me shut this girl up, why the hell did I stop”, eM was questioning himself. He tried to calm her down, as he was getting late for work too.
eM was born in this mean city of Delhi. He never liked Delhi, he always asked his father to move in a different city and he always used to assure him that they would. But he got late or maybe it was too early for him to depart leaving his son alone at the age of 15 and taking his mother along with him for the final journey. eM moved with his Uncle after the accident and spent almost a decade in a small district of Himachal, a place where he always asked his father to shift to. Now that he is 25, he chose to come back to work in Delhi. This is the place that he never liked and this is the place he came back to. Delhi reminded him of his parents, being here made him feel the presence of his childhood and thus, his parents too. He started a couple of years back as a sales agent, but now is an executive in small set up of manufacturing business. To save some money he travels by metro. He was always too shy to make friends and here he was, standing with a stranger…shouting at her…in a way trying to make her realise that she need to say a “Thank You” to him for pulling her out of the mess.
eM didn’t know what to say to a crying girl to stop her from crying. He neither wanted to leave her crying like this. He just thought to move away from the scene, to give her some break and to give those staring eyes some break. Without saying anything, he just moved away. Mi when realised that he is not standing there, started looking around like a small kid who has lost her way back home. “I couldn’t even thank him”…disappointed with herself she turned around to move on. And there he was…eM was standing there with candy floss in his hand. Before Mi could say anything, he extended that towards her …which finally brought some smile on her lips. He smiled back, “Take care and be safe. Hope not to see you again in this kind of a situation. Good Bye!”. Mi, with candy floss in her hand watched him turn his back and fade away from her sight.
Candy floss has always been her favourite. Her father would sometimes give her some pocket money, enough to buy candy floss for few days. This was for the first time after his death, she had had candy floss. Mi kept on thinking about the incident that happened in the morning the whole day. She kept regretting the fact that she could not say Thank You to the stranger.
She felt connected to him in a strange way, as he somehow made her feel secure. After years she felt that feeling of being safe with someone. She calculated every possibility of their meeting again and failed every time. Delhi is big enough a city where 2 strangers might not ever meet again, unless and until God wants them to. She kept on praying to Him silently, though somewhere in her heart she knew that life has never given her another chance to be happy.
eM was busy too…with her thoughts playing hide & seek in his mind. He had a tough day at office. Boss never missed an opportunity to pin point even a minutes’ delay and today this minute was multiplied by 40. “How could he let this meaty opportunity go?”…eM thought mincing his teeth when he entered the office gate in the morning. As expected, boss shouted…eM decided not to say anything as it might have come out to be a cooked-up story to save himself. With every comment throughout the day by his boss, he recalled the smile on Mi’s face. This made him smile in return as he was satisfied to have made a crying soul smile. eM kept on wondering about that feeling of being protective towards her which made him shout at her at the beginning. He had never felt this for anyone in years. He might have felt like that towards his parents if they were alive, but it was awkward that she didn’t seem to be a stranger to him. He kept on recalling that moment when he held her hand and it gave him a fresh smile every time. This boy who could not make friends cos of being too shy was now shying cos of a girl!!!! He was laughing on himself more than anything else, as he wished to meet her again…this wish to him was impractical. But wishes are impractical most of the times….aren’t they??
Mi didn’t know the time eM would leave from his office…or if he would be there outside the same metro station. eM kept wondering if she had come to work to the place they met or was she going somewhere else? They didn’t know where they would find the other one…if they ever would be able to find the other one…how would they find the other one…they didn’t even know the name of the other one….but both of them kept wishing the same….that they get to meet the other one…today…tomorrow or whenever…but at least once in this lifetime.
It was 7 in the evening of April, eM kept waiting for about 15min at the same place where he handed over that candy floss to her but she did not turn up. “May be we are not suppose to meet again”…he consoled himself and moved on. A sudden feeling of being alone surrounded him and he decided to go to the Rajpath. The same road where he had enjoyed numerous scooter rides with his parents. They would often come down to this road for a nice scooter ride after dinner and of course, ice-cream was always an attraction. eM marvelled at how things change…the latter has always been a reason to come with his parents and now it’s the road which fetches a lot of memories…the reason for him to come down and have a walk on the busy road….alone! In the middle of these thoughts he asked the auto driver to stop. Auto rides were usually a luxury to him. He paid the bill and started walking towards the direction of the traffic. He wanted to face the high beam lights of the moving traffic…something that always gave him the energy to fight back.
Mi was on her way back home and was even more restless as the day was about to end. It was difficult for her to divert her mind; she forced herself to think about anything else. Staring out of the window of the bus, she thought of keeping a track of all those vehicles which bus would overtake. She was amused to see how some cars just zapped through the traffic like a bullet, overtaking this huge vehicle. Amongst all the vehicles, Mi felt that the bus just crossed by a man…who was moving in an opposite direction…she sensed that feeling of being secured again, which gave her the courage to get up in the crowded bus to shout to stop the bus in the middle of the road without any signal. Mi wasn’t sure if it was him…but she didn’t want to miss even an ounce of an opportunity to meet him again. After slight discontentment, conductor did ask the driver to stop the bus at a side for a minute to get this girl out of the bus.
Mi was out of the bus, trying to figure out how far she had come. Without thinking much she started moving towards the traffic too. After a while she could feel a shadow of someone at a far end of the road…she walked even faster…with the thought that he might get into a bus or an auto, she started running towards this shadow…she was curious to know if her heart was pounding for the right reason. She wanted to shout to check if it was him….but didn’t know his name…even though she shouted “Hellow….excuse me??”, he could not hear the same cos of the distance and of course traffic contributed too. It was a matter of a couple of minutes and few more steps to solve the puzzle for her….as she came closer to the shadow…which now was a man walking few steps ahead of her, she stopped and took a deep breath. She smiled to herself as she recalled the blue striped shirt and black trousers she met in the morning. She kept walking behind him for sometime…thanking God silently. She noticed his hand…which was waiting for hers. She moved forward a few quick steps to be next to him…with a lot of thought she moved her hand to hold his.
eM got scared a bit when he felt that someone had held his hand. But the moment he noticed that it’s none other than the one he has been thinking of all day long…a beautiful smile appeared on his face…which reflected on her face too. At that moment…Mi didn’t feel the need to say “Thank You” in particular…their smiles conveyed a lot of unspoken feelings that they were struggling with throughout the day. It was time to take a walk…on a busy road…not alone anymore….
“It takes long to search for that one soul out of billions…but it just takes a moment to fall in love with”