The Known Stranger

By: Sara Mirza

8.30 am
it's a cold January morning and I’m returning from my home.
it is too peaceful for a bus to be, today.
There must be hardly 15 people in the bus.
I sat on a corner seat, the window is half open,
I tried to close it but it's jammed. 
A man sitting behind me, helps me with it without me asking for it. 
For some reason I didn't find it important to thank him.
Sun is right above and is striking my face making its way in from the window,
giving all the warmth I need in this cold moving morning.
I'm reading 'The Dhoni Touch' with earphones plugged in. 
My favorite playlist accompanies.
Bharat Sundaresan is narrating Dhoni's behaviour as a child to the readers as it had been narrated to him by Chittu, Dhoni's childhood friend.
He was always serious when playing any sport, anywhere.
I read those anecdotes and smile continuously.
I hear the man behind asking for water.
For a moment I thought I shouldn't say yes,
as I have grown up hearing not to give or take any food item from anyone, but my conscience held back the instructions I was given and I said, "Yes."
“Just want a little water."
I took out a little bottle from my bag and gave it to him; this was the same bottle which I resisted to bring along but Maa had forced it in case.
He gave it back to me in exactly 8 seconds with a few mls less and thanked me.
I, for a moment, felt illiterate as I hadn’t thanked him earlier. However, Ignoring my little guilt I continued reading.
After around half an hour I kept the book aside and started watching the highlights of an 'India Vs New Zealand' match on my phone.
The man behind asked with excitement in his voice, "You like cricket?"
As, of course, he noticed me reading The Book and now watching Cricket.
"Yes!", I replied with the same excitement. 
"I have been following cricket from past three years now and I just love watching it more than reality shows."
"You didn't watch this match?", he asked pointing towards my screen.
"No, was busy then."
"Dhoni must be your favourite." he assumed.
"Yeah, a huge fan." I told him proudly.
"I'm also a huge fan of Dhoni."
We talked about Dhoni and cricket for the rest of the journey. He told me that he had read that book before and how amazing it was. I told him about how badly I want to see Dhoni once in my lifetime, atleast. He mentioned some anecdotes which I didn’t know maybe because they were from the unread sections of the book. He narrated them with so much passion as if he'd lived through them.
He must be a good reader! I thought. 
We reached his destination, Ranchi. He got up and said, "May you get to meet Mahi soon." 
Discussing about Mahi has lead us to leave our identities aside, I realised. I asked him for his name finally when he was about to get down the bus.
“Chittu!" He replied with a cheerful smile on his face and exited.