With the Stranger


8:45 pm
December 12, 2013

Too late and too freezing to wait for a bus in December. I cannot help but to chew on the last piece of the chewing gum I have. Cuddling, like I loved myself a bit too much, I battle with the cold breeze running through the fleece I have worn on my cold body. My eyes can barely manage to peep through the confusion the fog was creating. There is an unrecognizable beauty in that obscure view. Yellow light from the streetlamp is diffused as if painted upon the wan canvas. A range of sounds rip the silent stratum of the night. Beetles and crickets. Birds of the dark. No thud of any humanly movement. No hearsay or hush-hush.
The silence and the dimness would have alarmed me; rather it makes me uneasy. Anxious, I look at my wristwatch. I have been waiting since long. I see no sign of any bus or any moving vehicle. It was dull and morn. Growing tasteless, I had to spit out the last safe haven.
Ten minutes have past. I hear approaching footsteps. The mist does not allow me to distinguish. Only when the man has come closer enough, I cease staring and put my eyes away. Tapping my foot and with my hands folded, I tried to steal a glimpse of him. But to my hard luck, he gives me the impression of being least interested.
Only after a few minutes we share a glance. Coming across no means and permission to start a conversation, the man merely ogles. A smile on the forlorn faces. Out of nowhere. The discomfort fades away bit by bit. He tries to come closer, but respects the hour and maintains a satisfactory distance. I am still struggling with the bitter cold that bites me. He seeming okay. Okay-Okay.

“Too late…?” He finally seeks refuge in the question that would get him an obvious answer.
“Waiting for the bus to come. It usually arrives by this time.” I answer him, seeming indifferent in my demeanor.
There is a pause. It could not prevail greatly.
“You seem to have waited for long. Your cheeks and nose have reddened much.”
I was perturbed at this remark that he made, for I note him noticing me.
He guesses it through my expressions.
“I hope you don’t mind me asking…” confusing me, he continued,
“…How far is your home from here? If we could walk.”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Oh. No ill intentions, you see. I came here to receive someone. The bus is not coming lately, I guess. So I just thought of asking you. And, it was not a perfect hour for you to wait any longer.”
“It is around two kilometers and a half. Too distant to be walked in this hour of the night. I can wait. It is not an issue with me.” I answer as certainly as possible. “And also, it is in the same direction you came walking from. So I don’t think it would serve a good purpose to you.”
“Don’t bother, please. I have to go back anyways. If you prefer it alright, we can walk towards your home.”
He seems encouraging to me with his manners. Looking at my watch once again, I agree to his offer. I pick up my bag and my lunch box and we commence walking towards my home.
For the first few minutes, there isn’t any exchange of thoughts or feelings. It is only later that he breaks the peace.
“It’s a great night.”
“And pretty cold.”
“Oh! You need my coat?, “I can manage. I am Comfortable.”
It must be my nestling inside my own arms that would have let him propose it, I think so.
I turn my head and offer him a positive look. He casually puts his blazer off and positions it over my shoulders. I snuggle in, as if tempted to bury inside and escape the chilly air.
There wasn’t much we were sharing or exchanging. Just a glance or two sometimes. We walked slowly.
We were not even halfway.
I grin.
“What is so funny?” He asks me, bothered if he happened to do something weird, unknowingly.
“Nothing. It’s just strange.”
“This night.”
He doesn’t reply soon. Only throws a gaze at me.
“It’s cold. Really cold. You have already grown red and blue.”
“You have already told me that.”
“I know. You seem delicate to me.”
“Is it?, I see.” I don’t trouble myself dwelling further and letting him discuss me being a weakling.
“There is this coffee shop not too far. In our way itself. If you could accompany me with a cup of coffee, won’t take much time.”
I don’t reply.
“We are half way, almost, already. We will reach your home soon. It will help you. The coffee.”


Kanupriya Dhingra

Student of English Literature. A lover of books, music and rains. I love to express- through words or through doodles.