Smiling Woman
Short Stories

A Usual Day And The Smiling Woman I Met

“Bless me, Lord, I am so late to work today”, I muttered while locking the main door of my house. In 10 minutes, I was standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus. Today I was so anxious probably because I had an important presentation to give. Anyways, as soon as the bus arrived, over 50 people tried to get on the bus. Somehow I managed to get inside and found a place to stand throughout the journey. 

Due to the jam-packed bus and summer, I was sweating profusely. People were already leaning over each other’s bodies and trying their best to stand comfortably. While I was holding the buckle hanging from the ceiling of the bus, I tried my best to not lean over anyone. I prayed to the Almighty to reduce the crowd. As we reached the next bus stop, a good number of people deboarded the bus, and a few boarded it. However, now I was able to stand more comfortably and could turn my body to look back as well. 

I gave a sweeping look to all the passengers sitting and standing on the bus. This was my daily routine to observe people’s expressions and read their faces. In fact, I enjoyed reading the expressions on people’s faces. However, I always hated my daily routine as there was nothing exciting about it. Every day I followed the same mundane routine and there were times when I considered myself a boring person.

So, with nothing to find admiring, I looked towards the window. Suddenly, the driver applied the brakes and we all were pushed forward. Thankfully, none of the people who were standing fell down. Since I was feeling really hot and wanted a bit of wind, I changed my position and now I was facing the door. 

Once again my eyes tried to observe people’s expressions when it stopped at one face. Now I was looking at a woman, sitting at the window seat. With her eyes closed and earphones plugged in her ears, she seemed to be enjoying the summer breeze. Seeing her like that, I felt as if she was living the moment whole-heartedly. A few loose strands were moving here and there and she often tucked them behind her ears. 

The woman seemed so relaxed and calm. The summer, huge traffic, honking of horns, and screeching sound when the brakes were applied, didn’t seem to affect her. She was enjoying everything and probably humming a song. Unlike other days, when I cursed the crowd, heat, and traffic, I seemed to haven’t gone through any of them. It was so strange as I didn’t realize how many times the bus stopped at the red light signal or how loudly someone blew their horn. I could feel nothing but the soothing feeling that smiling woman was giving to me, without even realizing it.

Though I was looking at her innocent and radiant face, I also feared what if she caught me looking at her. 

‘What if she thinks I am a pervert?’ 

So, I tried to find something else to look at. I tried to look outside to see the cars, bikes, and other vehicles on the road. At times, I also tried to look at my phone but then I was unable to resist looking at her.  Soon she opened her eyes and checked her phone. While scrolling through her phone, she was smiling as if she was an angel. There were times when she would put her phone down and look outside. Soon, she would type something and then wait for the reply. During the entire time when she was looking down at her phone, her hair strands were quite playful.  

In fact, her long earrings would dangle and make her look even more beautiful. At every bus stop, a few people got down and some new people boarded the bus. Every time someone walked in, I had to readjust myself to ensure I did not miss looking at her. Till now she was oblivious of the way I was admiring her. However, I was still scared of what if someone catches me looking at her and smiling.

Soon, my destination was not far away. ‘Just one bus stop and then I will have to deboard the bus’, I reminded myself. Even though it made me sad, I was still happy that today was special and different. 

In another 10 minutes, the bus stopped at the place I was supposed to deboard. With a gloominess, I went towards the door to deboard the bus. In no time, I was standing at the bus stop. For one last time, I looked at the bus. 

The woman was smiling the same way but this time looking at me through the window. 

Also read: Anu, The Reason Behind My Happiness

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