Though my usually long journey to and from office in the bus in this varsity town of Cambridge is never uneventful , what happened today was unforgettable.
While returing today, I shared the sparsely occupied bus with a duo of teenage girls , the impatient but good-natured and slighly on the wrong side of weighing scales called A and the sly and naughty, overly weight and appearence concious one called B.
OK now A is highly impatient – she likes to comment loudly on everything she sees outside , mostly stupid comments.B sits quietly in a corner sucking a lollypop , unmindful of friend's hyperactiviness.
One by one the bus empties down – I was sitting at half-back – just beside the heat vents – my favourite spot – for a chill was blowing outside.
A noticed that the bus was almost empty and looked back to reassure herself – I was the only person around – she looked at me and said 'hey can you be my friend – pls be my friend' – I tried to shrug of with a smile somewhere between embarrasement and indifference.
New people had started trickling in but that didnot divert her attention from me – from half way across the bus she kept (mock-)pleading 'can you be my friend – pls be my friend?'
Then she came across and placed her bulk in the seat across the aisle from me – suddenly B also got interested she came in and sat immediately behind me.I continued my mock non-chalance.
B told A (to my immense relief) 'hey I'm your friend , leave him alone!'
A won't leave 'Is she your friend?'I shook my head to indicate a no – 'Am I your friend ?' I shook again – 'why? I need a friend, please …'
B tried a different ploy – 'he's not undertanding a thing' she said to A.
The sportsman in me woke up – the wish to play along out of embarrasing situations.
'I do' I said to B;
This emboldened A.
I told B 'Was that to trick me into talking?'
A was still nagging and I said , foolishly 'I have the right to remain silent – anything I say can and will be used gainst me'
B got interested 'Where are you from?'
'So am I , I can speak Urdu'
'Really?' I said tried to mimic the Brit way this word is said – so much so that it can make the meaning clear if spoken to someone who knew no English.
And the surprise was genuine – she didn't look a tad Indain – one of those English girls – snow-white skin – she was a very pretty English girl.
''Tum Mote ho' you know what it means ' – it took me awhile to understand what she meant – then I chuckled 'Does she know what that means?' indicating to A.
'What?' A cried – her wailing subsided now after I got talking to her friend.
Then she asked me something else I could not figure out.
'Are both of your parents Indian ?' I asked in serious doubt.
'My Mom is English (Ah there you go) but Dad's from Pakistan but his mother was from India'
My remark about India and Pakistan being same once was ignored by a
'Do you know Urdu?'
'I can understand – its closer to my national language' said I.
'Can you tell me what is Urdu for -' ( I saw it coming) ' Fuck off' – I hesitated – 'Dont you worry we won't meet again – please tell me – I want to use it on my Dad'
The disrespect for parents in these teenagers westwards of Turkey,was not a new thing for me.
I still hesiatated – while she pleaded and prepared to alight – her stop approaching – I didnot want to give her a 'respect your parents' sermon (the root of the problem cannot be cured bu mere sermons) – nevertheless, the extensive expletive vocabulary I had picked in college seemed to fail me – exasperated, I told her 'Mera peecha chodo' ('Leave me alone' in Hindi) – she repeated – memorizing – thinking it to be the gross-est expletive she had ever learnt.
While she got down from the bus and crossed the road I waved to her and she waved back (and A looked upon,quite sullen now) -and I smiled accepting imaginary gratitude from her Old man.