It’s a cold July morning. There is mist in the air, and the silence in the steadily moving bus is only interrupted by soft sleepy moans and the steady hum of the engine. I’m awake; wide awake. I was never able to sleep on journeys like this and this twelve hour ride is no different. My neighbor is asleep now. He wasn’t supposed to be my neighbor but because I only managed to jump onto this bus a second before it started to move, I was forced to find the nearest vacant seat which was this one. So far, I have not regretted it.
My neighbor, with his small face and curious eyes had already told me his life story one hour into the ride, pausing briefly to pour some more of the forbidden Jack Daniels from his small silver flask into its cup cover, slowly extending the cup towards me each time in a ‘Want some?’ gesture, me politely shaking my head with my hand raised to say ‘No no, I’ve had enough’, him shrugging as if to say ‘Well, your loss’, taking a large sip and swallowing with a rather painful expression only to resume the life story seconds later. So far I know that he is a lawyer, who has never been married, no children, travels every week on business and loves his Jack Daniels. I know in which hotel he will be staying this week, where he stays back home, where he works and his favorite hangout. I also know he is kind and helpful, helping me clear at customs, giving me his phone to call because my credit is long gone and its past one am in the morning, even offering to bring me some dinner when we stop for a brief break. He did all this without asking a single question about me. This could be because of one or more of these three reasons; One: he is a really trusting person, two: he really doesn’t want to know and three: the ‘Ask me no questions’ look I keep giving everyone is actually working. Either way I’m grateful to have him as a neighbor, even if he snores a little.
Little did I know that this light-skinned thin neighbor of mine will forever be a part of my history. That not only will he play a part in my story, but he would play a rather significant one. He will be a part of the print permanently etched into my mind from this day. He will be part of the story of that moment when everything changed in my life; the point at which before met after. Little did I know that I would not be able to tell this story three years later without somehow including him. Isn’t it funny how you cruise through these moments of your life without realizing that this, right here and right now in this very moment, the rest of your life is being determined?
It’s two hours and one police check stop later and we are here. The stuffy air in the bus is getting warm with excitement and relief as one by one, the passengers start to wake up. I am here. It’s been almost a year of waiting but I am finally here. ‘What will it be like?’ I think to myself, as I fold the woolen pink and blue blanket I had wrapped around myself all night into neat squares on my lap, each smaller than the last. My neighbor is fully awake right now, bubbling on a little too loudly about all the sites I must see, plaguing me with alcoholic breath. The childlike excitement in his eyes as he talks makes it impossible to be mad at him. ‘You would think it was him that is here for the first time’, I think once again to myself as I turn to give him a grateful smile and stuff the now folded blanket into my unnecessarily large traveling bag. The neighbor is still talking as we both lift our luggage and descend the three stairs leading out of the bus. It’s even colder outside than it was inside, and I can see my breath each time I exhale. I want to wrap my arms around myself for warmth but I can not because each hand carries a deceitfully light-looking piece of luggage. I scan the crowds for you, looking left and right and left again. The neighbor talks on, something about going to pay him a visit before I leave… There’s a gentle tap on my shoulder. I turn around, luggage bumping into others walking by, and there you are.
‘You’re here’, you say to me, with a slight smile, your eyes never once leaving mine. The neighbor goes quiet for the first time in a long time, looking at each one of us in turns as he tries to understand, no, to absorb what is happening. Everything stands still. This right here, this is one of those moments.
‘Yes, I’m here.’
Kullein is a Publicist by profession with a love for the arts. She likes to write about her different experiences in life and what lessons she has derived from them. She also likes philosophy, Technology, Charity and trying new things. soulsistarz.blogspot.ug @kullein
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