By Nimo Kuria
I checked in late… Not that I didn’t know my boarding time, there had been a mix up.
Two friends of mine had suddenly decided to travel on the same bus that I was to board or so we assumed..
We just didn’t check….
I had acquired my ticket three days prior to that evening. Our buses were 40 minutes apart… I don’t know why we didn’t bother to confirm with the tickets instead we all went to hang out for the evening assuming we will be travelling together.
We were so having an easy time and I kind of trusted them with the time keeping… One suggested it’s time to get our luggage and that’s when I looked at the time.. I was running late!
“Damn, guys are you sure we ain’t late? Exactly what time is your bus departure? ”
I didn’t wait for the response, I took a sprint to the luggage area grabbed my bag and hurriedly hustled through the crowd of travelers searching for my bus..
By the time I found it the engine was running… They had almost left without me!
They had been calling my cell but I was too busy searching for the bus I hadn’t answered it.
I soon found my seat, cursing under my breath, I was certain I had booked the window seat but it wasn’t the case. I could hardly find any space in the carrier to shove in my luggage and I grudgingly shoved it under my seat.
Having settled down comfortably, I answered my ever ringing cell phone. It was one of my two friends. He wanted to know if I had found my bus, I confirmed in the affirmative and we said our goodbyes amidst bouts of laughter. The fact that I almost missed my bus and how was funny.
Finally, the trip rolled. I looked at the young star next to me; the lad must have been not more than 20 years of age. We nodded at each other and smiled..
Then I mumbled:
“I’d bet my last coin you are seated in my place, I booked the window seat.”
“I don’t think so, confirm from your ticket”.
I turned the other way, arms crossed on my chest, “I don’t trust what they write on those tickets, I may just find out am in the wrong bus so let’s not get into those details”.
He laughed at that and I reclined my seat hoping we ignore each other for the rest of the ride. I was tired and depraved of sleep. I intended to catch up on most of it through the trip.
Before I could close my eyes, I looked around… There wasn’t much to see considering most of the seats are taller than I am while seated. I could only look sideways.
Then I saw him.
He was over there sprawled on the seat, double parking kind of style. I couldn’t help wondering if the person designated to sit next to him hadn’t missed the bus like I almost did…
The lights in the bus had dimmed, I couldn’t see his face, I silently assumed he was of Somali origin from the silhouette of him that I was able to outline. Probably high on something or generally fatigued from a long holiday… I assumed he was drunk and clearly lost interest in him and soon I fell asleep.
Two and a half hours into the journey, we came to a stop. We are all getting the usual 15 minutes break…Passengers Rushed to use the bathroom, buy a snack or do whatever fuelled them for the remaining part of the ride..
I didn’t bother to look around. I needed to use the bathroom urgently. Also knowing how forgetful I can be, I reminded myself it was mandatory I get the bus registration number lest I find myself in the wrong bus on the way back.
I alighted, took a few seconds to read and re read the bus registration number (I almost was certain I couldn’t find my ticket) I marked the surroundings and hurried off to the bathroom….
I was back a good plenty of minutes before time, I chose to stick around the bus and have a smoke as I made a few calls…
I walked a few yards behind the bus and pulled out a packet of Dunhill as I dialed on a number on my cell phone…
As I smoked i saw him.
He was over there smoking and for reasons unknown we seemed lost in each other’s gaze.
I can’t remember how the phone conversation went but he seemed to have stopped smoking, he was curbing the cigarette in his hand as if to shield it from the wind. There was no wind, the night was silent, the skies were clear of clouds but stars that seemed to shine down gloriously..
I had disconnected the call while trying my best to disconnect the hypotonic gaze between us..
I saw his expression soften and he started walking towards me..
I instinctively dropped my half smoked cigarette, stepped on it and walked hurriedly back to the bus.
I sat myself down comfortably and pulled out a bottle of distilled water.
Who the hell was that guy and what was that about? Why had I suddenly taken off from a guy I was fiercely drawn to like a magnet?
Those questions raced through my mind. I hadn’t dated in ages and I almost had no recollection of the last time i felt that way about anyone at all, a stranger or not. I pushed the thought away and blamed it on fatigue.
Just when I was taking comfort in the thought that I’ll never see him again and that he was just a random passenger from any of the other buses parked alongside ours… He walked in.
I watched the tower of the myth god that I had ran away from walk towards me, eyes locked with mine… He slowly settled on my left. He was the guy occupying two seats on my left!
I pulled the scarf around my neck over my face and feigned sleep as if to create a barrier between us.
I could hear him get comfortable and sprawl his body on the two seats like he had done half the trip. I waited for everyone to settle down and I heard the engine roll. My eyes were wide open under the scarf covering my face, I watched as the environment got a shade darker. I knew the lights in the bus had deemed so I slowly pulled down the scarf off my face.
I slowly turned my gaze towards him. I could feel him staring right back at me….
I didn’t say a word…. I just knew that I was staring at my next big mistake…. Or maybe not. Maybe not a mistake at all….Maybe an illusion..