The Bus Chaser

I’d see him every day. The bus would descend the flyover and he would appear, running straight ahead with one arm raised, an indescribable expression on his face. He’d barely make it each time. Just as the doors would be closing, he would clamber in, panting heavily, an apologetic grin across his face.

The first time I saw him, I was quite startled. I saw him appear from behind the flyover and wondered what kind of a hurry a man must be in to be running like that. As the bus veered to the left towards the bus stop, I lost sight of him and forgot all about him. It was only when the doors were about to close and he jumped in that I realized it was the bus he had been chasing after. I saw him as he straightened up and asked the conductor for his ticket, smiling apologetically. I couldn’t help but smile.

The next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, I watched as the spectacle was repeated.

It was amusing to me how someone could be late so very precisely and so very consistently. It was almost as if he liked chasing after the bus. Didn’t he realize he could avoid this daily jumble by simply starting his daily routine a few minutes early? Perhaps he enjoyed the thrill of the possibility of missing the bus? I could never understand.

Soon it became a routine. Now I’d watch out for his racing figure to appear from behind the railing, try to picture his progress every time he disappeared from sight and guess at the exact moment I’d see him emerge through the doors. Even if I sat by the window, I never peeked, never turned my head to try and see him in the interval of his disappearance. Yet each time I’d see his unassuming smile, I’d find myself mirroring it. One day it was raining and I was convinced he wouldn’t be able to make it. I could barely see him through the curtain of rain that was falling on the windows- but I did see him quite clearly a few moments later, as he stood at the foot of the steps, drenched, but triumphant. That day my smile lasted a while longer.

One day, he wasn’t there. I had been watching out for him, and when he didn’t appear, I even craned my neck to see if he was farther behind on this day- he wasn’t. To my surprise, I saw him climb in with the rest of the passengers in a manner so docile and orderly, it didn’t feel like it was the same manner at all. That day I didn’t bother to watch him approach the conductor.

The next day, he stuck to his schedule and I buried my smile in my scarf.

*

I saw the bus appear at the top of the flyover and I started running. I wasn’t going to miss that smile for anything in the world.

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