The road ahead of you, barely has any traffic this particular morning, even the market is not yet open, the screeching sound of the shutter of the shops is the only sound that deafens you.

“Tanno! Do you really know which bus we have to take to get there?” Mado, your cousin inquires, who is a year older than you yet she has never been to any bus ride without elders. 

“Well, the lady I asked, she told me to take the U5 from this bus stop it’ll take us to Tariq Road,” you reply. 

“It’s taking too long, I think we should head back home.” 

“Ah! Just wait for a few more minutes.” 

Finally, the right bus makes its way towards you, waving your hand up; you tell the driver to stop. With the responsibility of being with a person that relies on you; you completely forget to ask the conductor whether the place you wanted to go comes under the route of the Bus, you just stepped in, too busy in calculating your every move that you even forget to notice that you and your cousin are the only lady passengers. 

As the bus moves on and the conductor reaches you for the fare, you once again forget to ask where the bus is really going and give him the amount without even looking towards him. You feel numb in fact you feel nothing. You are so sure that the lady on the street has told you the right number that you never even think it as a possibility of her being wrong.  You just sit there in the front seat by the driver waiting for your destination to arrive. 

Then suddenly the bus takes a turn that makes you realize that the route it’s going may not take you to the place you wanted to be, but then you cannot admit that you’ve taken a wrong turn to the very person sitting right next to you. You are too reluctant to save your image in front of her that you shake your head to yourself and think, the driver will take the long route and take us to the Tariq road. Don’t worry the lady can’t lie. She looked reasonable enough.

And the bus takes another wrong turn, now you are seriously worried but will you talk to your cousin? No! She won’t understand, she’ll get panicked. So you only sit there and wait for the drive to take the right turn like some magic that will happen and you’ll be at your destination either way. 

You become so clocked up with the route that you never set your eyes off the road, still hoping for a miracle to happen. Still wishing for that lady to be right, as you always think that your judgment about people is awesome. 

The traffic on the road on which your bus is moving has become even thinner and you can barely see any vehicle. You can now see more people walking by the road and the high apartment building has transformed into small concrete cottages in between these cottages you also happen to see some straw camps typically occupied by Asian gypsies. A bad sign. A completely worse sign. This means you are heading towards the outskirts of the city, not at all to the centre where your destination lies. 

And then you finally for the first time looks towards the other side of the bus. Surprises are yet to be revealed as you see only one person sitting in the back seats. Smiling, as if you have a joke written all over your face. Then you look straight towards the driver and finds him smiling as well. His thick moustache moving high and low.

“Are we really going towards Tariq Road?” and she asks the very question you were afraid of, but will you tell her your suspicions now? Will you tell her that you failed? 

You simply avoid her eye contact and look towards the last passenger but to your surprise, you find the last passenger’s seat empty. This can’t be happening, the bus has to stop for him to get out. If he’s not out then he must be here. Your eyes search for him and when you finally find him sitting right ahead of you next to the driver, in between you and your cousin, you have a panic attack. And you, at last, ask the very question you should have inquired way before stepping inside the bus. 

“Is this Bus going towards Tariq Road?” Their smile turns into laughter. Is your innocent inquiry has any jokes? Why are they laughing? You ask yourself. 

The bus stops and the driver speak to you for the first time, “Bibi! Tariq Road is at another side of the city. You had to take U5 from the other side of the road back at your stop. This bus has just come from there and this is our last stop. We’ll start our trip again in a while but it would be better if you take G25 that will take you to Tariq Road faster than us.” 

The driver steps out of the bus with you, still smiling and guides you from where you can get the other bus to Tariq Road. 

You are so numb, mystified by your own actions that you cannot face her. You just walk towards G25, hoping that she won’t say a word to you. 

“We can’t tell this to Mom, once we finally reach back home. She will never let me out again, if we do,” she says.

You never reply to her but deep inside, you know, you did something really unacceptable. Imagine the things that could’ve happened if only Allah doesn’t help you today and if this bus driver was a greedy one. Or the one you’re now sitting in. Again an empty bus with only the driver and his conductor starting their day’s trip but this time when the conductor comes to you first thing you do is ask if this bus Is going towards Tariq road, not only once, you confirm it again and again.

© Tanzeela k Hassan

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