Like every morning in the school bus, I sat with the headphones plunged into my ears, listening to the lyrics of the song carefully.
The bus was always calm in the morning. Most school kids either napping or reading and revising from their books.
Many of them, even quietly held conversations about how the school day was going to be like. Which teacher might be absent, how they would kill their friend when they got back the next day. All over, the mornings were quiet.
I stared out, almost at the third last stop for picking up the girl, who was as usual in her single braid, which was rolled once into a banana braid. It’s like the normal braid is made, and then the end is twisted up to form a ring and tied at the start. I found it amusing, because not many people did that nowadays.
Her mother always came to drop her, as they stood at the bus stand. Her head was always covered, the dupatta wrapped in an intricate way that most Muslim women did, with it wrapped behind their ears. I would have to ask someone one of these days what that is called. The girl, had a sister. Her mother would always be standing with her sister.
It was the every day scenario in the bus. The girl was some 12 or 13 year old at the most. A quiet girl, who only talked to one of her classmates in the bus. She had a cute nose-pin, identical to the one her mother had, and a soft expression on her face. Sometimes, I felt she was scared of something. I wasn’t sure. She almost never smiled. Was it because she was awkward?
I never spoke out my thoughts – of course. They were mine to have every morning. The kids didn’t really talk to me, unless it was a hefty discussion going on. I was among the senior most student after all.
While coming back from school, the bus was a ruckus! Every guy was shouting about something or the else. Most of us using slang was if it was the only language in the world. You’d rarely hear a sober thought. Everyone had got their momentum of energy, which would near about go nil as we reached home. I, as usual was either talking to someone from class, or maybe a junior even, as my headphone blared an up-tempo song. The lyrics didn’t matter now, the music did.
As every day, I looked out when the third stoppage came. There was the girl’s father. He had a white cap-kind-of-thing that Muslim men wore, especially during Namaz, or when they were at the Masjid. He wore a loose kurta almost every day, and had a long beard with no mustache. Normally, he came wearing a Lungi underneath the Kurta.
Why was I giving the description of a person that way? I didn’t know. I wasn’t judging him with his religion. No, not at all. It was like describing a woman wearing a saree. It was like describing a woman wearing a Burkha. What difference did it make, other than it stated the religion they belonged to (sometimes) and mostly, it was just an attire.
What caught me off guard every day, was the smile that the girl’s father gave him – every single day. It was a full blown grin, as she got down the bus and stepped near her father. From the bus seat, I wouldn’t be able to hear what he said, his lips moved in a way as if he was asking her about the day.
The girl had her father smitten and wrapped around her little finger.
I’d been seeing them for months now. Even though I saw the man once on a school day, when he just came to pick his daughter up, it was clear as a day how much the girl’s father loved her.
Even I had my father smitten. I knew that. He would do almost anything for me, if I asked for it. Not that I ever asked for something unjustified from him. But my father didn’t give me that full blown grin every day. He would give me a stern look when I made him wait in the sun, he would scowl at me when I asked for him to pick me up after he had a hectic day at work.
He did it for me nonetheless, but he didn’t give me that kind of a grin.
Her father gave it to her every day, no matter what kind of a mood he was in, or she was in. No matter if it was a chilly afternoon of winters, no matter if the sun was scorching at 42 degree Celsius, and he had been waiting for some while for her, no matter if it was raining and he stood there for her with an umbrella in his hand. She always got a full blown grin from her father as soon as she took a step towards him.
Nowadays, his grin made me smile. I wished to Allah, and God, and myself, whoever was listening to me, or even if it was the wind and dust that surrounded us, that every girl or boy got a father like him.
A father who could grin at their daughters and sons, no matter if he was good at showing affection or not.
As she got down, and I saw her father’s grin today as well, the bus drove away from them, blowing a wind full of air on everyone’s faces.