Sweet Encounter

by The Kathmandu Post 18 views0

Why were we so self-obsessed? Why is it more comfortable looking down on a phone than looking at one another’s eyes?

It was just another Nepal Bandh day. I can’t quite remember the date or the reason for the strike, but I do remember how school buses were the only vehicles on the roads on that day.

The road on which I pacing up towards college was full of people headed towards their own destination as well. Watching every person that passed me by, I noticed how each face carried a different expression and mood. Everybody, preoccupied by their own musings, seemed to be functioning with different motives and moving towards different destinations. Some smiled on their own, while others failed to hide the struggle and frustration in their eyes.

It made me wonder about how even as we were victims of the same strike we all had our personal baggage in life. It made me wonder of how even as we all walked the same road; we belonged to different roads in our lives.

Even though I had a long way to go, I was happy on my feet. The faces and the amusement they invoked were far more exciting than any of the bulky books I would have to read once I reached college.

When was the last time you engaged in a conversation with a stranger? Should we even call ourselves social beings anymore?

My musings were interrupted when a school bus appeared on the road. It seemed to be going in my direction and hence I joined a few people who stopped the bus to ask for a ride. Although I was hoping against hope, to my surprise, the bus offered a ride to everyone who needed one. Finding a seat in the bus was not as easy as climbing into it was.

My eyes were frantically searching for a decent space when I heard a sweet voice calling me from the back of the bus, “Dai, you can sit here.” I made my way to her and sat in the seat she offered me.

She was the cutest human being I have ever come across—she had the most honest smile and eyes that sparkled. She was probably 10 years old.

I couldn’t remember the last time a stranger offered so much warmth and kindness to me. When you travel by a public bus on a regular basis, you tend to forget that the world can be a kind place.

The little girl was so keen on having a conversation; I felt a little awkward. Strangers never talk in public vehicles. The only time strangers exchange words is when they needed to find out the time or where to get off.

And here she was, this little girl, who wanted to know everything about me. Why? Just because she was curious. She wanted to know my name, my age, where I came from, where I was going to—everything!

My awkwardness turned into mutual enthusiasm in no time. The little girl asked me such simple questions that I never really stopped to reflect on them. For example, what my name meant and what was my favourite food was or who was my favourite person. As simple as they may sound, these are big questions.

It’s funny how every time that I answered her questions, I felt happy. It was the first time in while that I was having a real conversation. Nobody had wanted to know me so well before. The fact that she closely listened to every word I said, helped me open up. I am not a talkative person, but I kept talking.

I was so engrossed in the conversation that I completely forgot where I had to get off. By the time I stopped to look out of the window, the bus had already travelled way past my station. I had missed my stop but I didn’t mind. I quickly said my goodbye and got off on the spot. The little girl stuck her head out of the window to wave me goodbye one more time.

As I walked back to my college, amidst strangers, my heart sunk a little. Why didn’t strangers talk to smile at each other? Why didn’t we want to know who the other person is? Why were we so self-obsessed? Why is it more comfortable looking down on a phone than looking at one another’s eyes?

When was the last time you engaged in a conversation with a stranger? Should we even call ourselves social beings anymore?

On that day, even though I missed my classes, I learnt something much more valuable than the books could ever teach me.

By Nishith Atreya

The writer is a +2 student at St Xavier’s College, Maitighar.

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