I saw the bus leave. I ran behind it as if my life depended on it. And in many ways, it did. My brain went dead, stricken by panic, I frantically called my father who was in the bus. Busy with the luggage and payment, he paid no attention to his phone.
The bus had left the depot and had picked up speed. I kept calling, meanwhile, sensing the fact that I was stranded and had no way to go, every other opportunistic travel agency guy had surrounded me with the best possible offers to the most exclusive of the places on their charts. Being afraid, I’ve understood, is sometimes not an option.
I gathered myself, went back to the place where the buses are ideally stationed. I stood there, faking a confident face, tirelessly calling my father.
“Hello? “, he said irritably. “ I’m left back here at the bus depot, and the bus has left, what should I do? “ , I explained, in the calmest tone I could manage.
“What? You’re not in the bus? How are you left back there!? “, he said, with utter shock and disbelief.
“That’s exactly why I’ve been calling for so long! Now tell me what do I do here?”. “Okay, go back to the place where they book tickets, look for the bus that leaves immediately, and get on it.”
“Okay”, as reassuringly, as possible. “Also, don’t ask too many questions.”, he instructed. “I’ll call you once I figure things out.”, I said, as I disconnected.
It took me 10 minutes only to figure out where the bookings for busses take place and that the next bus that left for Delhi, was leaving in another 5 minutes. As I made way among the chaotic crowd, I finally reached the bus I had to board.
To many of us city dwellers, the idea of fending for ourselves sans Google, cell phones and hot water is hardly even fathomable. Looking at the bus I had agreed to board, my heart sank a little bit more and the doubts regarding my safety increased exponentially.
I wanted to dig a whole and bury myself, right there, because every cell of my body knew, I wasn’t ready for it. It was the cheapest of the busses, with creaking windows and derelict seats. With no other option left at hand, I reluctantly boarded the bus. With the goal of finding the most aloof seat possible, I entered and looked around.
With eyes glaring at me, like a salacious fantasy, my confidence was now dwindling. I managed to sit on the cleanest window seat there was. I called up my father, who, this time, answered his phone in half a second. I gave him updates on my abandonment and convinced him that I’ll be fine, even though I was strongly doubtful of the same.
As the bus started to leave the depot and picked up speed, I sat there in the most vulnerable state I had ever been, with a silent prayer in my head, to reach Delhi alive. In the eight hour long journey, I had analysed my entire 19 years of existence.
Assuming the worst, I had a mental note of all the things I regretted, I was grateful for and the things I wished I could have achieved before I cease to exist.
As the night fell, and people began to snore and drool, I endlessly pinched myself, forcing myself to stay awake. Compelling myself to stay alert, because some how being aware was the best I could do. I felt despair changing to hope as time passed, as I started to recognise the way, started to realise that I made it after all.
The bus creaked and halted and I jumped from the highly uncomfortable seat and got out of the bus. I spotted my father from a distance, and I had never felt more relieved before.
A tear trickled down my cheek and I unsolicitedly wiped it away.
And just for that moment, I felt okay with being weak and recognised that it doesn’t make us any less of a person.
My father hugged me, as an applaud to my bravery.
“Did you cry?”, I asked, as I noticed hot springs in his eyes.
“No, did you?”, he asked, as he sensed my emotional vulnerability in a second.
Its moments like these that prove that you’re stronger than you ever imagined. That you’re more than anything the world can conceivably throw at you, stronger than the words of toxic judgement that you have to endure everyday and no less a woman for choosing to finally putting a stop to it all.