I trudged along the graveled road, towards the bus stop, in the chilly January morning, alone. It was still dark, as even the sun was lassitude stricken, the morning breeze forcing it to stay beneath the horizon. I pulled my blazer closer.
The whole colony seemed frozen. Even the stray dogs dug deep into themselves, blanketing the cold. The lifelessness haunted me. I missed dad. I missed the way he used to accompany me, upto the bus stop, listening to my stories. While my friends used to taunt me, laughing off at the way I still depended on dad to follow me everywhere, even to the bus stop, I had always found it as the best part of the day.
I missed him wearing his fat Eskimo jacket (which I hated considering it was totally out of fashion), shielding him from the cold. I felt my eyes getting moist as I thought of him lying alone in the cold grave, and my shear helplessness whimpered me.
“Are you heading to the bus stop, kid?” someone called out.
I turned around and found an old man rubbing hands as he smiled in my direction. I looked around to see whom he was talking to.
“Are you talking to me?” I asked him through hand gestures.
“Yes yes.. to you only..” he said aloud, surprising me.
“Yeah…!” I replied, partly confused whether to continue walking or stop and talk to him.
“DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS” mom’s words to her chatty little girl echoed in my brain. Still i stood there transfixed, not knowing what to do.
He walked up towards me, and shouted, “Come on, I’d accompany you to the Bus stop.”
I felt awkward at his loudness, but then looking at his age, I felt his hearing was a little impaired and guessed he considered the rest of the world to be the same!
“Yeah… sure…” I shouted back smiling.
All the way till the bus stop, he walked with me, talking aloud. He didn’t ask me my name, neither did I ask his whereabouts. Soon the other busmates were there, and they looked at my new company, laughing and nodding heads.
“You go and join them, I’m fine here.” The old man announced.
I looked at him in awe. It was exactly what my dad used to say while standing with me.
Afraid of the lump in my throat, I nodded him a “No”.
He smiled… Exactly the same contended smile dad used to give me when I would scold him at asking me to leave him and join friends.
“You the best Amigo, Dadda!!!” my heart whispered aloud, my usual dialogue to dad, silently.
And he smiled almost in reflex, as if reading my heart.
I smiled back, perplexed. As the bus approached, he blessed me a good day. I thanked him and moved towards the stop.
Boarding the bus, I sat at my usual window seat, from where I used to wave Dad goodbye.
From the tinted pane of the bus, I saw him still standing there. He looked exactly at my window, trying to eye me.
As the bus started to move, I felt my heart getting heavier. I saw his eyes desperately searching for me, but the tainted glasses rendered him helpless.
As the bust left the stop, I felt an out surge of emotions. Opening the window frantically, I waved out to him. He smiled, a sunny smile that could light up the whole universe and waved back to me.
Hot tears gushed my cheeks as I sank back into the bus seat. I left the window open, letting the coldness lighten up my sunken soul.