Subterfuge Illusion

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I still remember this one day inside a congested bus. I was sitting beside a very normal, middle aged Bengali lady, clad in an office going regular saree & carrying a worn out vanity bag.

She had earphones on and was talking on the phone, most probably with her son. “No beta, you are a good boy, aren’t you,? Now come on, have your lunch. I’ll be there with you in no time. And ask your baba not to wait for me, ask him to finish his lunch too.”

I slowly turned my face away, a little irritated with her for being so loud, until I noticed something extremely weird- the earphone pin was not inserted in the phone; rather it was hanging loose from one corner of the seat.

I looked at her face, taken aback and dumbfounded. She was talking still assuring someone on the other side and was answering questions about how her day was at office. The bus jerked and the earphones came off and fell.

She didn’t realize that now she was talking to the air. As I moved out because my stoppage was arriving, I felt the earphones on the bus floor under my feet; I picked it up and gave it to her. Now she stopped talking and her face went red. Suddenly she rushed up and got out of the bus as it stopped right then.

The bus started again and she hurriedly disappeared in the crowd turning back once to give me a look. I’ll never forget that guilty, scared look of a child on her face.

-Soman Sanil Sahu

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