There was a girl occupying my seat on the bus. I moved towards her; she looked up at me and smiled. She had the kind of smile that could melt steel. But the journey was long and the bus was crowded, so I resisted her charms and showed her my ticket. With much reluctance, she raised her delectable self off my seat and cast me a sour look. I apologized for the inconvenience. She replied, “I don’t see why you have to make such a fuss, after all, you’ll be on the same bus!”
I didn’t reply. I just waited in silence for her to move on. She took her time and when she finally left, she said, “The least you can do is thank me for warming your seat.” The other passengers laughed and I reddened.
It was a cold winter morning at Lungtenzampa bus stand in Thimphu and there was only five minutes left for departure, still I had to get out of that bus and clear my head, which I did.
Outside in the cold, I shivered and cursed her, “A good looking girl but what a rotten heart, I fumed, hah! Her tongue can sting”. Just then I felt a tap on my back. I turned and there stood my oldest friend in the world.
Although for a while, we could talk of this and that. I apologized for not being able to visit him as I was too tied up with works. He smiled and said “You are soon going to be an officer and I am just a Peon here, before I could speak anything he continued with genuine deep smile, “I can understand your problem”. I was relieved to note his expression that he really did not mind. He then asked when my next vacation is. I had to cut short our conversation at this point, so I promised as I jumped on to a bus that I’d check him out on my return.
That was never to be. When I returned, the first thing I heard was that, my friend was no more. He lost his life in a scooter accident.
It’s strange, life is. When he was alive, I hardly spared him a thought. Now that he‘s no more, he is never off my mind.
And then I remember that unspeakable girl on the bus and I silently thank her for inadvertently allowing me that last slice of life with my best friend. Had it not been for her, I would not have had that last slice of life with my friend.
I have contributed this article to Kuensel in May 1997. It was published in May 10, 1997 issue of Kuensel. A couple of days back, when I was going through my archives, I found a copy of it and thought I will share with others through WAB’s page.