“Ghantagahr, Ghantagahr, Ghantagahr …. ” cried an auto-rickshaw driver amidst the usual din of a busy crossroad at GT Road in Kanpur. I had been standing there in scorching may afternoon heat for about half an hour. A diverse group of people stood at the side of the road with me waiting anxiously. The unusual scarcity of autos going towards Ghantaghar at the time had made the crowd restive. I ran towards the auto with my bag dangling from one hand and the other signaling for it to stop. A dozen other people ran along with me. But the auto had only one empty seat and the people ahead of me were in a group of twos or threes. I silently praised my luck and got inside.
As I entered the auto, the first thing that my eyes fell on were the sunglasses. Sitting nicely upon her dimpled cheeks, the sunglasses perfectly complemented her impeccable milky skin. I have never liked sunglasses. They simply take the color out of everything, make everything around you look so dreary. But there was something enticing about that girl and her sunglasses.
People inside shifted to give me the window seat, allowing me to rest my bag against the side of the rickshaw to keep it out of their way. When I settled inside the auto, I assessed my surroundings. Next to me sat a shabbily dressed man of about 60, wearing an untucked red chequered shirt and black trousers which were a bit too short for him. His shoes, once black, were covered in mud in a way that black showed only at a few irregular places. They were worn out from his innumerable adventures. He carried a handbag cut and sewed out of a used plastic sack. He wore a permanent scowl on his face probably showing his anger at the unfairness of the world towards him. Next to this man sat a middle aged woman. She was hunched over and gossiping with another woman of about same age sitting opposite to her. From some of the words I could catch form their conversation over the noise of the rickshaw, they were discussing about some or the other daily soap.
The heat and humidity was made worse by all the dust coming in through the window. The effort of catching the auto left me had drenched in sweat. I took out my handkerchief and started wiping the sweat off my face. Suddenly, I was conscious of her eyes on me. I looked up. She sat right in front of me. Oh God ! She was so pretty. Her head was turned in my direction for a moment and then she looked away. She was in an animated discussion with someone over the phone.
The girl was wearing a kurti - green with large black dots and black jeans. She had a rather longish face with soft and round cheekbone. She had a conspicuously large smile which stretched from one cheek to other and was her most attractive feature other than perhaps her mysterious hidden eyes. Her hair were jet black except a strip of golden color, which I guessed was in fashion these days, and she wore them loose. They were flowing all around her head due to the wind blowing in through the windows, making a black halo which gave her an ethereal look. She had a large brown handbag with her.
The sunglasses left for much to be imagined. One could only comprehend the beauty of the eyes belonging to such a beautiful countenance. I realized that I had been staring at her all this time. I tried to concentrate at the scenery outside. A girl sitting near me is enough to make me self-conscious even if she is a total stranger. I started thinking of ways to start conversation with her when she gets off the phone.
Meanwhile, her chat on the phone was over. She opened her handbag an put her mobile phone inside. To my delight, in a brisk movement, she took off her glasses and went along to put them too inside her handbag. The wonderful moment to put an end to my reveries about her beautiful eyes had arrived. She was facing down fiddling in her handbag and it was difficult to get a good look at her. She zipped her bag and turned around to ask the driver to stop. She had a thin, loud voice, full of self-confidence and surety.
Her time to leave had come. Unexpected as this was, my disappointment on hearing this was bettered by my curiosity about her eyes. The autorickshaw started to slow down and gradually came to a halt. She turned back, collected her belongings and got up to leave. She stood up there, a little bent to avoid her head from hitting the roof, and asked the man sitting next to me to let her pass. I looked at her eyes. Oh, they were dreamy, not at all what I would ever have attributed to her in my imaginations. I could stare into them forever. Brown colored and almond shaped, they were the portals to bliss.
Then something strange happened. As I was looking at her, she extended her hand and tapped me gently on my shoulder. This gesture perplexed me a little. But she was still looking at the man sitting next to me. She again asked the man to let her pass. Her hand was still on my shoulder. She shook my shoulder and again told the man to remove the bag out of her way. But the man had no bag. I had a bag. Too late I realised that she had a squint in her eyes and she was talking to me this whole time. She bent down, lifted my bag to let herself past me and got out.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events and incidents are either a products of author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental