‘I really hope no one is waiting for those flowers. Doesn’t look like the weather is going to get better any time soon’.
Ravinder, was looking at the view from the bus stop and it wasn’t particularly encouraging. The rain was pouring down with an agenda, a not so pleasant one. Stranded at the bus stop a couple of miles from office, he had Bairam for company. He would have preferred a certain lady waiting for him back home, but he really wasn’t in a position to choose.
‘It’s our fourth anniversary. I had forgotten the last one. I had this one planned out and I can see God laughing right back at all those plans. Not fair man!’
Bairam, wasn’t too pleased. Flowers, dinner at her favorite restaurant followed by coffee at that special place and a little gift waiting back at home once they returned home. Little gift, but rather expensive. He had mapped it all and planned the routes, ordered the table with the view, the flowers with the under stated fragrance, the perfume with the highly over stated fragrance and the delightful letter he had written that morning, to be delivered with the coffee at the café. He had obviously not planned for the weather.
‘That is pretty tragic. Also planning to meet lady love back home, myself. Ah the pathos of this rain, the terror of the lover’s heart, forlorn and stricken. The rain lashes against this harsh terrain, causing more pain in my brother’s heart. I wish you away oh merciless rain, so my brother and I trudge on for another day, to return to our love who waits in dismay’
‘Wow! That was beautiful and rather spontaneous or were you thinking that one up for a while?’
They both laughed. Bairam was impressed and Ravinder was lost in his thoughts again.
Begum, stuck in the rain. Had a big surprise planned and thought I should let you know. It was going to be really special and we can still do it but not sure when I will be home. Don’t wait up for me. Can’t wait to get home to you.
‘ So my plans seem to be cancelled for the night. Just got a message from me lady love. What about you? Still going to deliver those flowers?’
Bairam wasn’t too thrilled. He returned Ravinder’s question with a blank look.
‘Let it pass man. So what can I call you? If I may call you anything, that is. As you do realize this is going to be a long night for us. I go by the alias, Ravinder.’
Bairam paused, just for a moment. ‘Bairam, my name is Bairam Khan.’
So sad Jaan. I will sleep then, it has been a tiring day. Happy Anniversary again. Night’
‘ So Bairam, now that your anniversary has been effectively ruined, tell me a bit about yourself. Entertain me, regale me with stories of how Bairam found himself stranded at a bus stop with a struggling writer and a bouquet of lilies in his hand? Tell me of the cruel tidings that bring upon you this day, a day laden with hope and the whiff of your woman yet as the scent begins to go cold, you begin to choke and splutter.. and silence. Allow me to permit you the chance to be heard, to be the shoulder on which you throw upon this weather your foulest. Let me be your outlet tonight.’
Bairam was amazed at just how easily the spoken word came to this man. He was enthralled and a little annoyed at the same time. A weird cocktail indeed.
‘ Well I just had a lot planned for my anniversary. The last year has been trying for our marriage and I really believed this could be a new and interesting start. Of other tidings I can only speak of frustration at work and marvel at your hold of the language and the moment. I am impressed.’
‘Ah, he speaks and he speaks his heart and his soul. Must I thank ye for your kind liberties or shall I accept this as the graces of a man stuck with very few options?’
‘Ravinder, are we going to speak like this all night?’
Ravinder laughed. In between his thoughts he enjoyed the banter, even though it was rather one sided but then he always prided his ability to brighten the dullest moments.
‘Tell me about your lady love. She must just love all the poetry?’
Ravinder pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Took a deep breath.
‘Yes. She is beautiful, gentle and kind. She is also mysterious, tiring and easily angered. She is mostly the woman of my dreams but barely feels the same about me. She chooses her time with me and abhors my poetry as she does my presence at times. It sometimes feels that she is just punishing herself being with me and most other times she treats me like her reward, at the end of a long hard day. To be honest, I don’t really know her Bairam. Who really does know a woman?’
He blew a couple of smoke circles and his eyes followed them till they hit the pouring rain. A couple of cars passed through the flooding roads but no one seemed to be in the mood to stop for a couple of strangers at a bus stop. But Ravinder and Bairam seems to share something deep. An inexplicable distress about the women they were with and at the same time a certain sense of fortune at the same time.
‘So Bairam, let’s veer away to topics better suited to men like us. Men tired with love and decoding their women. Name a woman whose beauty never ceases to shock and comfort you. And please don’t take your wife’s name, she isn’t here to judge!’
Bairam thought for a moment and a moment was all he needed.
‘Sorry to disappoint you man, but it is my wife.’
Ravinder cringed, then smiled. ‘Tell me more’.
‘Well, Ravinder, she is a sight to behold. There isn’t a moment spent with her that I regret. Though I’m not sure if the feeling is mutual but she just has this pureness about her. This sense of entitlement that she carries with a grace that is uncommon. She is confident and it shows in the way she commands her life. There isn’t a bit of arrogance or self-pity or any quality that makes a woman so unattractive and weak. There is self-assuredness and a sense of equality about her wherein nothing gets missed, the bad gets berated and the good is applauded. She isn’t perfect, far from it but she accepts her imperfections and approaches them with caution and conviction at the same time, conviction to rid herself of it. In my eyes she is the angel I set my eyes on in a time of great weakness and strife and she fought her way through it and met me halfway and helped me back across. She is a fighter, a savior and a woman. A true woman..’
He trailed away. Ravinder was taken aback by the sudden freedom with which Bairam expressed himself.
‘ That was truly beautiful. My answer was just going to be Natascha McElhone but yours truly beat that. And did I just see the mind of a poet at work there?’
Bairam laughed and then caught himself.
‘Well she brings it out in me. Not sure how but she just does. No such woman in your life Ravinder? You are already brilliant with your words, women must love getting described by you. Don’t tell me that the woman you mentioned earlier holds no special corner in your mindless heart?’
Bairam’s phone beeped.
Jaan waiting for you to get home. Just want you next to me before I sleep tonight. Feels like it has been forever since we have really been together. Try and swim through the water na. For me. Kidding! Please don’t. Just get home safe. And soon!!
Bairam smiled to himself. And then saw Ravinder uneasily fiddling with his phone and trying to light another cigarette at the same time.
‘ Well Bairam what can I say? It seems that a man of many words is a sum of very few deeds. Yes I have had my share of women, some special, some pedestrian and some, just entirely creepy. I have to admit no matter what I said earlier, she is rather special. She cares for me, listens to me and she really listens. Not the polite ‘I have to so I will’ kind of listening but the kind that warms your heart, the kind that makes you want to open up about your dreams, your secrets, your idea of your self. Its that deep kind of listening that is nearly spiritual, the kind that doesn’t require anything physical to make the relationship meaningful. She also has a way about her. She will smile and listen to me and before I know it I would somehow be in her lap, speaking and wildly gesturing because I will be so lost and so inspired in her arms. She interrupts me at the right moments, question and debate me on my views, make me so much richer for my opinion. She generates real warmth, the kind that makes me dream and believe in my life again. Every moment, however short was perfect. She was the woman you wish every woman could be.’
Ravinder took a deep drag of his cigarette. Took a few breaths and put his head out to assess the flooding on the road.
Bairam looked at the rain pouring and watched a few more cars pass by in the distance. He wished to run towards them and jump into them so that he could head home. Back into her arms.
Begum, I miss you. Even tough I’m a few miles away stranded in a silly bus stop, I truly do. From tomorrow we are going to really shake things up. No more late nights at work and fighting after that. I will turn everything around, make it all beautiful again.
‘You seem to be in love Ravinder because that was truly beautiful. She sounds like a woman you may want to hold on to. So what is the status on you guys? The long haul? Confused?
‘ I would rather not answer that. The cruelty is in talking about it and the disappointment is in listening to it. Both are my crosses to bear.
Bairam backed off and it seemed that so did the rain. It began to subside.
“ I really hope a bus manages to get here now.’
Ravinder didn’t nod or betray any emotion. He looked at the rain and spoke.
‘Isn’t it wonderful that two men can open up about their lives with such little knowledge of the other’s troubles? That bond that is created when men speak of their women in reverence and helplessness. When men choose to express their deep-seated anxieties and their true reasons for loving a woman. When men, truly and finally understand what maketh a woman. I do not know you and I do not know if we will ever meet again but listening to you, I know that I have to aspire to be you, at some point in my life. Your path doesn’t seem easy yet you seem to want to stick to it knowingly, you work towards it and you see the reward and you want it. I have never known that, or desired that. I think I do now. I am going to make her, for whatever it is worth, even if it is for one more night Bairam.’
Bairam could see a bus appear in the distance, he couldn’t wait for it to get there as Ravinder hailed a lone cab that seemed to be sauntering by.
‘Bravo Ravinder, who thought the lame everyday Joe would get the ‘poet’ thinking? You fight for her even if you think she’s even the tiniest bit worth the effort because if she makes you feel liberated and allows you to dream, then hold on to her till death because that is all you need, to live.’
‘Wow i’m impressed at what this brief rendezvous has done for the poet in you. Keep it up and you have a great anniversary. See you Bairam’
Ravinder got into the cab as the bus approached the bus stand. Bairam quickly flipped his phone to inform his Begum that he was on his way, when he saw her reply to his previous message.
I know you will make it beautiful again. I know you can. If only this rain would stop and you could get home soon. Ah the pathos of this rain, the terror of my lover’s heart, forlorn and stricken. The rain lashes against this harsh terrain, causing more pain in my lover’s heart. I wish you away oh merciless rain, so my lover and I can trudge on for another day, to return to me as I wait in dismay.
Like my poetry?
Bairam watched Ravinder in the cab light another cigarette as he gave his destination to the cab driver. The cab moved and all he could see was the light drizzle and the smoke curl out of the cab. The bus waited and then left as the flowers fell out of his hands and he slowly sat himself on the bench. He played the entire conversation in his head again and as his tears and the rain began to match pace, the cruel rains had gotten its victim.
He picked up the flowers and began to walk home..