She likes to sit at the bus stop. The bus stop is just outside her hostel gate. People who know her, and people don’t know her, find it strange. She never gets into a bus. So why does she even sit at the bus stop for hours sometimes? “She’s weird”, they say.
She has become accustomed to the remarks; to the fake smiles that mock her every day. She tries to act as if she does not care; though, deep down in her heart, she does care. The lust in some people’s eyes whom she is supposed to respect but can’t for obvious reasons, the sneer on some people’s faces- it all hurts her. It makes her feel suffocated. Every morning, when she wakes up and sees herself in a mirror, she sees a stranger. An exhausted looking girl with puffy eyes that indicate how much she cried last night. Her roommates also often don’t realize that she is crying. It is only her pillow and her teddy bear are the only witnesses to those tears, to the muffled screams. Every night, she weeps silently. Unlike good old days, she does not bother to put kajal in her eyes, for the fear of being called a “bimbo”. Her eyes have no expression at all these days. She has literally become a zombie. Has she always been this weird? Nope. She was not like this before, not at all. Back in college days, she was a social butterfly with enthusiasm for tons of activities. As a student, she has been just “ok” but that never bothered her. She knew what all she was good at and worked hard at them. When her dream came true, she was excited beyond words. Her family felt proud of her. She had finally pinned down what she wants to do with her life and it looked like she finally embarked on the path. She was happy yet sad. She was sad to leave the cozy city she got accustomed to, sad to leave her friends. Moving to a new city was challenging, but she accepted the challenges, with high hopes and dreams.
But within months, she started losing all her confidence. In a new place, in a new city, she missed her old days terribly. She missed her friends in the other city which was far away. She tried to make friends in the new place but most disdained her. Why? The answer is still unknown. Maybe she is a misfit. Or maybe, she’s just not good enough to be here. She knows she does not belong here, but she has nowhere else to go. Some she assumed to be her friends backstabbed her, badmouthed her. One of the things she always took pride in was her openness to accept people with their differences. But the irony that slapped her on the face, for the first time in life, people don’t always accept others as they are. Her politeness, her respectful behavior could not compensate for her crime she committed – by being independent, by wearing western clothes. In some of their opinion, she let down their culture, their moral values through her clothing. They left no stone unturned to mock her, to harass her. With baggage of her past that she could never share with anyone, all these became too much. She became severely depressed, lost appetite and found solace in solitude, irregular sleeping cycle, and chocolate cakes. Some nights she could not sleep at all, while at times she slept for 12-13 hours. Slowly, she embraced a loner’s life, something she dreaded so much. There are some real darlings who care for her, but she is staying away from them too for the fear of losing them. This is not the first time she is living on her own; she really wonders why she is being punished like this.
She likes to sit at the bus stop, to watch the vehicles that pass by, strangers who pass by. She watches the couples who board a bus together. She observes everything. She does not have the knack to be a poet but perhaps she can become a writer. In fact, she used to write once upon a time- long before her soul started dying a silent, painful death.
Today is another usual day. For her, last night passed in a blur; crying uncontrollably. So, here she is….at the bus stop. It’s her afternoon activity. The bus stop is often isolated but in the afternoon, there are people waiting for the bus to come. They have a home to go back to, unlike her.
“Oh no, it’s raining!” a passersby grumbles. Everyone starts looking for a shelter. And she? She comes out of the shed, gets drenched in the rain……and tastes the rainwater. It tastes bitter, as bitter as her pain; which is like the vicious hemlock killing her every single day. She died million times in this strange place, which she could not turn into her second home, unlike her college days when she created a sweet little world for herself away from home. In fact, the city she left was her real home, because she had escaped home which was a battlefield. She had escaped from traumas and that city had embraced her with open arms. And now again, she was back to square one- with nobody to lean on. Nobody.
“What a crazy girl, see. “
“I swear man!”
She hears their hushed whispers. Some of them spotted her- this time, they have some concrete evidence of how weird she is! For once in her life, she turns deaf to them. Suddenly, she is energized by a devilish desire to annoy those who despise her, who kill her spirit every now and then. She wants to make them feel uncomfortable. She giggles like a toddler and gets herself drenched in the mud, making their eyeballs almost pop out in shock……
Maybe tomorrow she will again go back to paying heed to what they say about her. But not today. Not now………..suddenly the rainwater tastes better……..
Originally written in 2015, reproduced from the writer’s Facebook Timeline.
(This is a fictional story; therefore, the writer is not responsible for any resemblance to any real-life incident)
The writer is working as editor of Women Chapter’s English site, and Researcher and Social Media Manager at Safety First for Girls Outreach Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Zambia. Her passion also includes inter-faith peacebuilding and she has assisted in organizing inter-faith workshops and conferences in India and the Netherlands.