Jusmi is an English teacher. Obtained her Masters in English literature from Gauhati University India shares an immense love for writing.
Matilda was not rude or rough but she wasn’t a friendly being. She liked to speak less or not at all in case it didn’t matter to her. After her divorce, she became more gloomy than ever. She was often scoffed at by her neighbours as proudly and vain. But, that was not the case she found solitude more comfortable than to speaking about topics that were not at all her concern.
She lived a very secluded life far away from the hue and cry of people. Every morning she would wait at the bus stop quietly and when the bus arrived she would hop into it and go to her workplace evenings was also not different.
But, one day something happened which she had not at all waited or perceived.
As she was waiting for the bus she noticed a young boy, not more than seven or eight years of age. He was looking here and there. His eyes were constantly moving from one object to another. He was laughing, smiling and full of life. Along with him was a woman which Matilda considered as his mother. She was also smiling and talking with him. They were both holding hands. She kept looking at the young lad for a minute or so and thought, “ How happy the child looks. As if he doesn’t have any idea what sorrow is. He is so happy watching each and everything of nature. Wish I could borrow some happiness from him and make my dull life a little colourful”. Just as she was having this thought she caught a glimpse of the boy looking at her and smiling. She wanted to smile back to him but she couldn’t. She just managed to look sideways and after a few minutes, she heard the honking of the bus. When the bus arrived without looking at him even for a second, she boarded the bus and went away.
But, it was the first time someone had smiled at her without asking anything in return. She felt a kind of joy in her heart. At some point, she felt she was rude to that innocent boy for not returning his smile back. She thought to herself, “ Next time I see him again I would definitely walk up to him and speak a few words.”
The next day she saw the boy and his mother again at the bus stop. They were talking and smiling as usual. Matilda wanted to go and speak with him. But their bus came and they rushed. But, before boarding the bus he again smiled at her. The bus went leaving Matilda shaken. She felt angry at herself not to be able to walk up to the little boy and speak a few words of kindness. She decided the next time she sees him she would run to him and thank him for considering her a human too.
The next day she waited for him to arrive with his mother. But, she waited and waited. There was no sight of the mother and the little boy. They were nowhere to be seen. She waited for a week for them but there was no sight of them.
She got confused as to what might have happened. She worried for his safety and well being. He has given her so much joy with his infectious smile. He has put some light in her otherwise dull life. She wanted to meet him for the last time and thank him.
After a month or two she had gone to buy some vegetables for the nearby market. While scanning through the shops she by chance got a glimpse of the little boy’s mother. Along with her, she saw a little boy whose face was not very clear because of the crowd covering him. Gathering courage she passed through the shops to reach them. Upon reaching she could see it was not the same boy. Curios and tensed she asked the lady, “ Hello, my name is Matilda. I have seen you many times at the bus stop with your elder son. He is a lovely boy. If you don’t mind can I meet him once?” The woman looked confused and replied, “ Hello, my name is Rose and this is my only son Ley. I don’t have any elder son. You must have been mistaken, Miss”. Matilda said, “ Sorry but I have seen you with a different boy at the bus stop. May I know who is he?” Rose thought for a second and replied, “ Oh, you must be speaking about Zoey. No, no he is not my son. He stayed at the orphanage where I work as a caretaker.” Matilda said, “ Oh is it so, sorry I thought he was your son. Anyways can I meet him once? Can you give me the address of the orphanage?” Rose looked at her with teary eyes and said, “ Miss you cannot meet Zoey. He left”. Matilda again asked, “ Where? Where did he go?” She replied, “ He left us forever. He was struggling with cancer from the past two years. Two months before his death he requested me to take him to St. Marks park. He said he wanted to play and live the life of a normal child for at least a few days. So every day I used to take him there. He felt so happy to see the kids running and playing there. He had a habit of giving a smile to everyone. I so miss his smile. Maybe God took him from us to make everyone happy in heaven”. Saying so she took a leave wiping her tears. And Matilda stood still grounded in her place. The little boy’s face kept dawning in front of her eyes. That infectious smile would now keep haunting her for the rest of her life.
© 2020 Jusmi Saikia