Disclaimer: Completely fictional and not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings.
She walked to the bus stop to take the usual route to work. It hadn’t been the best start to the day. She had woken up later than her usual 0500 and that completely wrecked her schedule. She was upset and more so than she usually would be. She did wonder why, once, when she felt like crying because she let the milk boil over. But the dates were to blame so she let it slide.
Standing there at the bus stop, she looked at her watch, sipping her coffee. It was an hour’s travel to work. There wasn’t another route she could take and bus was her only option. She could never read in a moving vehicle, it made her feel nauseous. So she kept to her music and thoughts while in the bus. The bus arrived on time, the first good thing that had happened to her since morning. At least she couldn’t be late. She got in, sat down by the window and began rummaging inside her bag to fetch the ear phones.
“Oh no no no!” she said aloud, to herself. “No! I left them on the table..”
Well, to the non-travelers, lack of ear phones might not seem such a tragedy. But to someone like Zoya, it wasn’t a comforting thought. She never liked being alone with her thoughts. She liked to keep busy. She liked external noises in her head. The silence is an open invitation to paranoia stemming from an overwhelming number of thoughts. And today, she was left alone with her fears.
A girl walked in and sat beside her. She looked a little crazy and was all over the place. Carrying a million papers with a pen caught between her lips, she began searching for something among the papers. Her needle-in-a-hay-stack search took a while but she found what she was looking for and stuffed the remaining papers into her bag. Zoya had been curiously looking at all this and was greeted with a smile when the girl looked at her. You could see how opposite the two girls were. If one was all professional and classy, someone for whom time mattered, the other was just as messy and blasé about anything and everything. Both girls emanated a sense of calmness. For Zoya, it was the reassurance of a position in the world and the other girl, it was her carefree attitude toward life. And yet, they were drastically different.
“Hi! Sorry for the mess, didn’t mean to disturb you!” she said, to which, Zoya replied, “Oh! No problem at all,” and she turned to look outside the window.
“I had the craziest night! Hardly caught any sleep! Was so certain I was going to miss the bus! But I can’t afford that. I’m on strike two with Mr. Bossman! Hahaha..” continued the girl.
Now Zoya had two options, she could have continued to ignore the girl who was just randomly talking to her, or she could play along and talk. After contemplating for about a minute, she decided to go with the second option. After all, she wanted to get away from her own thoughts and this might be the perfect solution to that.
“Oh really? I slept early yesterday, had a headache,” she said.
“Well, that’s awful! You don’t look well even today. Is it still hurting?”
Zoya controlled herself from reacting to the allegation that she did not look good right now. She looked and felt perfectly fine, with just a hint of a bad mood, for obvious reasons. Moreover, she had made herself up well when she left home. Her ego bristled for a moment, but she let this one go.
“I’m alright, thanks.”
“Stress at work can do that too at times, you know. The document I was looking for? That’s my ticket to this new job I’m trying to grab! With my basic set of skills and the bare minimum education, I could only get to be Mr. Bossman’s PA. He’s fine, but not great. But I’m cool with it. I’ll go elsewhere if I do get sacked. Anyway, I’m going-”
“I’m sure your interview will go great!” Zoya smiled and cut her off. She realized she wasn’t interested in what this girl had to say. Who was she to judge what her level of education was? She did not even know why this girl was talking to her that much. She did not want to listen to her anymore. And yet, she did not take the hint.
“But you look all professional. With the coffee in hand and all, you know? Seems like you had a fairly normal childhood, didn’t ya? Good schools, great parents?”
Zoya realized that this was not what she had signed up for. She smiled nervously as the stranger began to narrate her story vigorously. Zoya herself had actually had a normal childhood. Her parents made sure her needs were fulfilled and she had no troubles with anything. She had many friends when she was little but only a few remained in touch now, but she was okay with that. She had had a safe and uneventful adolescence and had gone off to college. A marketing major, she had a job that paid her sufficiently to live independently. Her concept of hardships were confined to only death or a rift with the boss. But the stranger, whom she was listening to. had a completely different story to tell and it sent shivers down her spine to even listen to her. Why was she telling Zoya everything?
“I had it bad. I don’t think I was raised by my true parents, you know? And then my old man went and got himself killed. Left us no money. My Mum went crazy too soon after. So I just left that place and came here, to live alone. Anything would be better than what I had left at home, you know? Well, at least that’s what I thought, of course. It wasn’t so. Things got ugly with the landlord, you see. He succeeded in taking advantage of me and life has been so-”
“I’m sorry, but I need to leave now.” Zoya couldn’t stand it anymore. She simply needed to get away. She got down at three stops before her stop and decided that a cab would be less of a torture, just for today. She had been completely traumatized.
The girl sat on her seat and watched Zoya leave. She sighed. She just wanted Zoya to understand, you see? She wanted Zoya to believe that she was the truth and not the working girl she thought she was. This is what happened every time that Zoya was left alone with her thoughts. She had to exhaust herself trying to convince her unstable mind, which always left the bus, to realize that her hippie life is the truth and as soon as she realized that, her other facets would bury themselves and she will be able to work on improving her life. ‘Zoya’ got down at her stop and pulled her bag closer to herself. Her phone rang.
“Yes? Zoya here.”
“Ma’am, we wanted to confirm your appointment for the abortion set for today at 1500.”
“Ya, I’ll be there. Thanks,” she said and hung up the phone. She sighed again and walked off to work. It hadn’t been the best start to the day, anyway.
P. S. Tried my hand at something different today, sorry for the gloomy tone! Feedback absolutely welcome! Happy thinking! 🙂