Dec 12, 2012

Strange(r) acquaintance

"Are you going to the school?", an old woman sitting next to me in a Transfort bus asked.

I was wondering how to answer that question. Its true that I am going to school, but right now I am going to Walmart to buy some groceries. She must have read the confusion on my face for she rephrased her question after a pause,

"Are you studying at CSU?"

"Yes", I replied. 

"Its an excellent school. My daughter graduated from CSU", she said, "in 1985". 

1985! I started my schooling in that year! "What is she doing now?", I wanted to ask. But something told me to listen to the old lady instead of developing a conversation.

"My son, he too went to this school, but graduated from Denver and got a job there", she continued.

I checked my watch and noted that the bus has five more minutes to depart. There were no other passengers in the bus but for us.

She appeared to be in her sixties, her body frail with her face completely wrinkled. A green woolen shawl covered her head and her ears and she protected herself from cold with a leather jacket.

"Its terribly cold outside today", she complained, adjusting her gloves.

"I think the weather will become better tomorrow", I said. Forecasters had earlier predicted the day to be cold and windy with occasional snow near Denver. "Sky is clearing up and will be warmer tomorrow".

"Of course! This is winter", she said. After a contemplative pause, she continued, "There was a blizzard once during Christmas", she recollected the past from her memory.

"My son came home for Christmas, but he wanted to go back to Denver the next day to watch Broncos in action. You know, he was a die hard fan of Broncos"

"The blizzard had hit on Christmas night, and next morning the roads were covered with snow! He could not take his car out! Those days, the snow removal squad did not have technology to remove the snow from the road. It took several weeks to clear them manually"

She pointed out to a couple of buildings opposite to Downtown transit center and said, "those buildings were arsoned that time, so they say". My eyes went towards the direction she pointed out and found two new buildings. "Of course, now there is no hint of it", she commented.

A stream of passengers entered the bus, swiped their passes or inserted a dollar bill and a quarter. A cold wind entered the bus and occupied every seat without buying a ticket. She adjusted her green shawl to make her feel comfortable, and asked me "Which country are you from?"

"India", I replied.

"Its a beautiful country, I have heard of her."

"Route 5 departing from Downtown transit center", the driver made an announcement pulling the bus out from the station.

Silence filled the space between us, which was now occupied by some thoughts. The ease with which she started the conversation and went on as if I am her old friend surprised me.

"Next stop, Walmart", the driver announced, pulling the bus to an edge bringing it to a stop.

"Have a good day", I wished her, thanked the driver for stopping the bus for me and walked in my direction.