In my four hour bus journey, I was fully mesmerized by the sheer force of her presence.
LOVE STORY 1976
Â In my four hour bus journey, I was fully mesmerized by the sheer force of her presence. Perhaps, there was an even more magnetism about this Mesmerist. Just within two hours, I fell in love, about to get married, but then...
Years ago, in 1976, my first business venture provided a handy functional lift, a kind of a long airfoil to offer a flying start to my career. Â
Unknown, inexplicable, I had to travel through strange lands, in my own country.
Sounds strange, isn't it? Some have argued that, while taking off for a quick escape for our new business venture, by chance, if we happen to collide with someone we don't know well, anything can happen. Travelling together in a public transport can certainly serve a new relationship to blossom, but in case the opposite happens!
Well, it started as a playful banter, but I too got stuck in one bizarre situation, in a worst-case scenario.
Oh, that gruesomely yours bus journey! A worse kind of situation, one can ever go through. In those days, every bus traveler had an unforgettable experience, of an agonizing tale to tell. Mine was the most adventurous, shaky bus ride through the quaint streets, up the narrow dust tracks, over the infinite potholes, with erratic speed freak operator, directing the wheels. On many occasions, such bus journeys are inevitable and here, I was in store for a series of them. Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared to endure the, "all time worst of all bus ride," so early in my trip to Goa. Chewing pan and spitting through the bus window seems everyone's birthright, a certain new transformed trend.
Incredulous! Surely it was a 'Semi-luxury' bus, Hubli - Panjim, 240 km drive, via Belgaum. On that sunny morning, in a hurry, with my backpack and a new movie projector, I boarded the bus and to my astonishment, the front row window seat was empty.
My eyes danced with delight to see a beautiful girl of my age, with blue jeans and a pink shirt, hair pretty conventional, neatly pulled back in a luxurious ponytail, sitting on the adjacent seat. She at once prompted me to think - can she be mine!
"Hello, I'm Alisha," She expressed cheerfully. Â
I was not used to talking freely with the girls, particularly with a beauty like Alisha. Surely, I was in a nervous situation.
"Shyam, my name," My shivering voice uttered, "Nice, meeting you."
We sat in silence, as the nervousness took over me. The bus with notable improvement in punctuality, made its move.
I turned twice in my desperate bid to make conversation, but could not dare say a word.
Quickly enough, she understood my motive, turned and with twinkling eyes, said in a bullish fashion; "Have you started liking me, so soon!"
"How true, she was." I thought; "Oh, clairvoyant." Yes, I remembered the word. I briefly flirted with the idea of speaking, to declare something, but what?
"Anyway, she can read my mind." I desperately tried to interlink my brainstormed notions into coherent words, to get my views across, but without any noticeable results. While I was wrestling with my plan of action, she stared at me delightfully.
Â "Carpe diem, seize the pleasure of the moment." She was now almost trying to convince me. "Enjoy, making full use of this day, our future is indefinite."
All through my college life, I had been desperately trying for several adventures and now I started dra-ma.
"Come on buddy, sweetie-pie." She was now coercing and almost forcing me to enjoy this moment. "Make merry, for tomorrow we are all sure to die. Life is short and time is running out."
I promptly came out with my question; "What do you mean by that?"
"OK, you take it this way;" she continued, "the future comes apace, we may not be here tomorrow, exult-rejoice every moment. Come on buddy! Rejoice with the one you love."
I said softly, "Yes, truly so, just chill and enjoy when the Sun shines. Tomorrow! Who knows?"
And we both started laughing.
"Your mouth appears to be bigger than mine, and that's attempting to say something more. Why don't you blurt out, de jure, if you cherish my company and fallen for me, rightfully say so?"
It was my wild but exciting move, as I could not possibly hide the truth and walk away from reality. "Honestly," I admitted; "I fell in love, the moment I saw you." My facial expression was all too apparent as I murmured dryly, still shivering. "Please don't mind my saying so."
She blushed, accepted the compliment with good grace; "There is flattery in friendship, should I say, infatuations are playing wild games in our hearts!" As she promptly came closer; "Listen to my whisper." She said softly; "I started loving you too, amigo, be my toy boy;" and she kissed my cheeks. "Wow," her mouth was open; "manly perfume, after shave, so cute, I love it."
She clapped and giggled, as if no other human being was around.
"Ah! Be a logical buddy. I'm very fond of pulling legs; you are my first take today. You know something! A man's reach should exceed his grasp, to give life a shape. You look very attractive to me." Her mind boggling conversation resonated within me. "Are you a city based model?"
She was expressing her mind, thoughts, views, all at once, while I was quietly listening to her gabble all the time.
I kept wondering; "who the hell is this girl?"
"Listen to what I tell you. Let's Tie the Knot and Let's Get Hitched." She held amusingly.
"What! Tying the knot, right here on the bus!" I gave a stunned look. Â
"Why not stupid! You certainly would do this, unless the pure spirit of adventure within you is dead." She was excited. "You can imagine, immediately after we get out of thee bus, we go wandering in the wilderness, getting lost in the natural surroundings, altogether in the diverse world."
A smile on her face, she asked; "Shall we do hand-fasting?"
"You mean, we both take oath, right here, in front of all these villagers, am I right?" I got curious.
"Hey, yes, why not?" There came her quick answer. "Let me be a perfect bride and follow the marriage etiquettes, whereas, you take the wedding vows and we are done with it. Let us make it short and crisp." She was rather mischievous.
"The honor of your presence Mr. Driver is requested at the affirmation of our faith, the wedding vows of Shyam and Alisha in your bus, in the October month of the year 1976."
"What is the ceremony like?" I was absorbed.
"Like any other wedding with the same zeal, vows of all kinds, an indoor bus wedding, quietly noisy, non-traditional, while on the move and crazy. Isn't it appropriately passionate?"
"Surely very tottering...I suppose, creative...original...yes, very passionate; no one has ever thought before and no one will, too interesting for me to understand." I stared aghast at her.Â
"What is there to understand? We get married here and now and we are through for our first romance." She was amusing me. "Are you with me?"
The word 'romance' sent ripples in me. An image of a fantastic invention created in my mind, while I sat on it like a hidden treasure, as if it will uncover hidden meanings and disclose top secrets.
"If you so wish, Alisha, why not?" You sound too good to be true. Who are you? Can I call you my ANGEL for a while." I said after a bit, with all those questions thrown at me, one after another.
"Yes, take me as your Angel, for the day." She too was amused.
"We can give our wedding a whole new look, entirely a fresh dimension. Marriage, a happiness symbol, and it will be magical and meaningful for our future. Let us select the best man to come along for such an important task. But, promise me with the symbolic act of carrying me on your shoulders, while entering our new home." She elucidated.
Persistent with conversation, I declared; "In that case, we must follow another traditional symbolism, only after we are tied under wedlock, I'll lift the veil, to see your lovely face."
"Let us give this event a different look, by fielding songs to offer an appropriate festive impact. That will make us more than just intimate friends;" she said. "We can get one cake, cut it in the middle and call it a day."
Then she looked upwards, closed her eyes and whispered; "I wish this was true." She pushed up her both hands, delicate, shapely hands. She crossed her fingers.
Yet, I was indulged in fanciful and imaginative forces of nature in an inspired world, dressed her wearing a traditional colorful sari and jewelry, designed by a certain eccentric artist. I turned to look at her, imagining and visualizing her to be my bride in traditional costume, tinted bangles, bringing artful explanation to decorating her long thin hands, imagining them artfully decorated with brown henna, glittering golden jewelry around her wrists, fascinating ornaments of golden and silver designs worn around ankles, a brownish red bracelet around arms, a diamond ring, a yellow bracelet, artistically designed dazzling necklace made of precious metals and gems around her neck; and flowers of varied colors added to the background as a symbol of purity and beauty.
Yes, I could fancy, nothing further.
Nonetheless, some awkward feeling, some weird things crept within me, as the total air around both of us was saying something else.
I didn't feel safe.Â
Alisha did not appear to me to be suitable as a homemaker, but rather the type who would mingle in outdoor ventures. She did not seem to have the temper for home crafts and such homemaking activities, which youngsters of my age group preferred.
In between, she removed a fountain pen and paper from her bag.
She sprinkled fountain pen downwards with the intention to make the ink flow smoothly. Part of the black ink came straight down, spraying on my trousers.
"Oh no, do you deserve this in any way?" She shouted, looking at them, above the harshness of my long pitched cry. "It looks so ugly on your neat dress." Then she moved her hand on my leg, so as to remove the exposed ink.
"OK, forget it, let us play a game," she started scribbling on the paper for a game to continue.
Alisha was the type, who would get ready for anything. She told me the story about the hitchhiking expedition she had gone with her four friends, about pitching a tent in the evening by the side of the river and about the campfire, running and chasing rabbits and about several female film heroines, she considered her idols. She also talked about the crush she had in her school days.
She went on to explain what she used to cook and how she burnt her omelet during her first venture in the kitchen. She created more curiosity, while explaining her daring episodes and bravery at certain stages of life. No doubt, she was valiant and above all, she was a great fun to be with.
I've been working on my Goa project for more than a month, with sleepless nights. The fatigue was showing on my face. I had thought of taking a nap on the bus, en route to Goa. But the non-stop chatter of Alisha brought excitement throughout. Â
With her down-to-earth nature, penetrating talks, she was the perfect companion for my otherwise boring voyage.
I started thinking of my future with her.
"If you had met me earlier, I would have been camping in your house. Why didn't you meet me before? Stupid!" She said with authority.
"Then where have you been camping?" I asked.
"In Belgaum, with my friends, for a week, planning." She said in a hurry, unwittingly.
Alisha at once understood what I meant by asking questions. I noticed something else stirred in her mind. Suddenly, she felt as if she told me something that she did not want to reveal. She changed the topic.
I realized that she spoke a few words in a hurry that were meant to be kept a secret. However, I did not pay much attention to it.
"By the way, I completed twenty six years on this earth in June this year, how about you?" She asked inquisitively.
"I completed 28 in July." I said gently.
"Oh, that makes two of us a perfect match, what you say!" She said bullishly. "Why not we venture together and go for it straight away!"
To a great extent, I was stunned with her outspoken and extrovert attitude. Her command over many languages had kept me speechless on many occasions. She looked to me as an exotic beauty, mixed with a fierce intelligence.
But her queer behavior and what she uttered puzzled me. "My dear chap, soon we will be in the heavenly abode. The fox knows many things, the hedgehog one big one." She surely was sending a message that kept me guessing.
Who she really was! What was her intention of this journey! Where she came from and where she was planning to reach to end her journey. I was left dumbstruck. Our talks had almost touched the climax and she astonishingly brought both of us together in a dramatic fashion.
Indeed, she had that overall charisma and comprehensive package to be taken as a wife. How straightforward, down to earth and jolly she was, while she had accepted my masculine persona!
The passengers were curiously watching us and listening to our loud conversation. But 'who cares'? The surrounding situation was invalid for us.
I had an intention to hook that girl, but my voice of conscience within did not permit my impulses to react instantly. I wanted to express and confess to her about accepting her in my life, but I pulled out my thoughts, when my fear heightened to speak a word to her in those lines.
Our bus came to a screeching halt at the Belgaum bus stand. The conductor shouted, "Only five minute halt."
Passengers got up from their seats to make their way out of the bus. Alisha took out a 100 rupee note from her purse and instructed me, "Pronto, please bring a soft drink and snacks."
"Not to worry, I'll get the stuff," as I jumped down the bus with a feeling of great achievement.
IÂ ran towards the shops, tempted to grab a dish to satiate my hunger.
Suddenly, behind me, I heard a loud bang; the thunder almost tore away my eardrums. I was clearly horrified.
I turned to look at the bus.
Havoc! In the center of the bus stand, without warning, the bus roof shot up into the air, a cloud of a fireball with black and gray dense smoke and gasses puffed far up above in the air, creating a sight of volcanic eruption, and there was a terrific sound of an explosion which shook every part of my body and the bus stand. The scene was beyond all words horrible.
My hands and legs started trembling like a tuning fork. My blood pressure shot up instantly with the fear of uncertainty. Aghast, I saw a few hands and bodies go flying along with parts of the bus, before they disappeared from my view. Everything seemed to be flying in the air.Â
A wonderful romantic love sequence abruptly turned into a deadly parody of the warlike disaster. In the wail of sirens, partial black out, a wail of misery went up with long, loud piercing cries of women and children. Confusion was all over the place. The explosion had devastated the area.
"It's a bomb," They shouted.
In fact, I was sitting in the jaws of death a few moments ago thinking it to be a playful ride to Goa. I nearly snatched my life from it by stepping out.
I could not see Alisha.
"No." I thought. "At the last moment, Alisha pushed me out of the bus, in the pretext to bring food."
Did Alisha know about it?
I was horror-struck, surrounded by a mystery of puzzling crime. A sudden, spasmodic muscular contraction caused severe pain in my body.Â
My arms extended toward the sky, as I stood there, feeling dumb with disbelief, praying for the restoring of that remarkable power within me that had vanished in a flash, into an enormous expanse of space. I kept praying and pleading, as I had done during the last many years. I waited and hoped.
Thereafter, there was a deadlock to my thought process. Everything came to the grinding halt. I did not realize, when and how I reached back home.
I could hardly sleep. The horrible flying scene, the parts of human bodies flying made my life miserable. Then a sleeping pill reacted to me, to put me off for almost 16 hours.
That's what I was curious to know, that each day I'm living now and see, was written long ago.
The newspaper disclosed the hard puzzle. "Alisha was a member of Sri Lanka's most exclusive LTTE Group. Her motive was to blow the bus. She did it at Belgaum, where 32 were found dead and 86 injured."
No doubt, Alisha looked beautiful to me. Her gracious features, fleeting look, particularly romantic notion she created, it was a characteristic of her to display smiling geniality, inviting, pretty striking at the first glance. My memories of our romance, the diverse sequences of life and such strange air of mysteriousness, still "real Alisha remains just alive to this very day." I suspect, if I get a chance to visit the world of Alisha again, I'll never want to return.
Now I understood what she meant, when the expressions on her face were oddly decisive, as if to say; "you won't be laughing when the truth comes out."
But surely, she saved me from those perils of getting involved.
ThisÂ "My Love Story 1976" remained out of sight, that stormy situation till today. The hidden episode surely has a hidden meaning, which I thought will remain hidden forever. After four and half decades, I decided to reveal the mystery saga, uncover its meaning and bare special message.Â
Yes, I'm aware I'll have to bear the consequences of this disclosure.Â
It took me twenty long years to sustain that object of longing and ten years thereafter to nurture it. To me, writing was one extended angelic event, and I did not find substance in the genuineness of any other joyful ways. I had to set things in motion, to fulfill them. Having a drawback of limited resources, I flawed many times. Gradually I had to overcome all those obstacles. It was my struggle to find strength in my weaknesses. Ultimately, I did it. I was filled with partial satisfaction having accomplished the initial step of publishing my first novel SEEMS SHEENA after four decades of struggle. Little did I know that a substantive and meaningful part of a major work is still in the making!
Word Count: 3006 words
Title: Love Story 1976
Word Count: 3006 words
Piece: Creative Good Story
Written by: SHYAM GOKARN,
Date of Birth: 16 July, 1948 (Age: 72 yrs)
Mobile: 09481010670Â Â
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