Its almost been 3 weeks at my new site of work as an engineer.
Gradually I’m getting familiar with the surroundings.
The surroundings means the surroundings of my site.
The women bringing their children to the nursery, the men who regularly come to catch fish in the river, the people moving off to work through our site premises, the kids who wander around occasionally watching the progress of the bridge.
But of all these what comes first in my mind is the face of this beautiful girl.
Her name is Sneha.
I first saw her during the last day of my first week at that site.
She used to come in the balcony of her apartment and watch our work.
This apartment is occupied by three related families living in three floors.
The bottom floor is occupied by a retired professor and her wife, the second floor by Sneha and her mom and the third floor by the married son of the retired couple and his wife and kids.
Sneha used to smile at the people in my site but she was indifferent towards me at first.
Maybe she took me to be a serious engineer not interested in matters other than the matters of the bridge.
Maybe she took me for someone with a hot temper.
But I can say that this could be because of certain things.
First I was so busy at site during the first few days that I didn’t honestly have time for other matters.
And I was constantly under a lot of pressure regarding my construction.
I almost began to think life was hell.
It was then on that Friday that I saw my supervisor gazing somewhere, almost dreaming.
I looked into the direction where he was looking.
And I saw this beautiful girl sitting in the balcony some distance away from our site in her apartment.
She wasn’t even looking at my supervisor’s direction.
She seemed to be lost in thought.
Maybe like that guy was dreaming.
Then suddenly she turned in my direction, saw me looking at her and she turned and went in.
I felt so sheepish.
Then came next week and I used to wait for her to come outside.
She didn’t come for many days.
I thought, maybe its all my fault.
Then again on the next Friday she came out again.
This time I turned away.
Then I looked back again slowly to see if she were still there.
She was there.
And this time she smiled at me.
I thought she might be smiling at someone else. So I turned around. There was nobody around.
Indeed. She was smiling at me.
So I returned the smile.
Later I came to know that the elderly couple living in the apartment had come to inquire about me. And my workers had said that I was the new site engineer in charge of the bridge project.
Well I thought, this couple may have discussed about this new site engineer to Sneha.
Maybe after all she sent them to ask about me!!
Ah forget it. I think I am just over doing things.
Then almost whenever she began to come out she began to smile at me.
So our ‘smiling’ friendship kept growing but I didn’t think that we had enough friendship for me to go and talk to her.
Then on the third week of my work at that site I decided it was time to go and talk with her.
So at noon I asked her in sign language…’Hai Sneha, can I come over to your place to talk??’
She thought for some time and then replied ‘YES’
I was almost dancing when she replied and she was watching me from there and smiling at my reaction.
So in the evening I went over to her place.
I climbed the steps with a thousand thoughts.
What will I talk to her at first meeting??
Aw, come-on, there are much better greetings.
What about ‘Hai just came here to say hello!’
Stupid! What will she think of me!!
It was then that I remembered that I had reached the second floor of the apartment.
And Sneha was sitting in front of me.
Wait a minute…
Sneha IS sitting in front of me!!!
I looked sheepish. She smiled at me.
And I opened my mouth to say hello but I heard her saying ‘Hello Arun!’ to me.
How did she know my name??
She seemed to sense it.
‘Don’t worry. My aunt told me your name is Arun and that you are the new site engineer for the bridge’
I smiled at her wondering why should she inquire about me!
Then suddenly I noticed..
She’s sitting on a wheel chair..
Oh my god!!
‘What happened Sneha?? You had a fall?? Is your leg fractured??’
She kept on smiling at me…
I almost yelled..
Then her mom came out with steaming coffee in a tray and said ‘hello Arun, what happened??’
I almost felt dizzy.
Here I am looking at a girl on a wheel chair.
But she keeps on smiling at me and her mom looks indifferent!!!
What the hell??
‘its okay, Arun’
What is okay??
I stood there bewildered what to do.
What am I supposed to do??
I weighed my options.
Should I take her to hospital??
Should I call for an ambulance??
Should I bring the doctor over to here??
I began to panic.
I had never expected such a situation.
What should I do??
It was the that she rolled her wheel chair and came beside me.
She touched my hand.
‘hey its okay’. She assured me.
Then her mom handed me a cup of coffee.
I took it and kept it on the balcony parapet.
She held my hand looked at me and said.
‘I had an accident almost a year ago.’
I stood there.
I didn’t understand anything.
Her mom came over and said the tragic story.
She was travelling with her dad in a car when a truck crashed into them.
Her dad was killed in the accident.
And she lost her right leg.
And as a memoir, her body has the scars of the accident.
I stood there.
The world seemed to be spinning around me.
Am I on the verge of collapsing??
I don’t know anything.
All I know is that my beautiful butterfly cant walk.
She told me that the doctors would try to put an artificial leg next week.
‘I would walk again da!!’
She seemed confident.
I knelt beside her looked into her eyes
‘I’m so sorry’
I began to feel the dampness of a teardrop filling in my eyes.
I didn’t want her to see it.
So I quickly stood up and looked out.
She is really beautiful.
She’s a year younger to me.
She was preparing to do her MBA.
She had a wonderful future ahead.
I didn’t know an answer.
I looked at her and said..
‘I am leaving’
‘yeah I got to see a friend at the railway station’
She didn’t seem to believe me.
She asked again
“I l see you tomorrow”
She smiled and said “any time. You are always welcome”
I turned to go..
‘aren’t you forgetting something?? ‘
I looked bewildered. Did I forget something??
I looked around.
‘Well you didn’t give me my flowers’
It was then that I remembered.
I had brought flowers for her.
I wanted the first meeting to look formal.
And I had put it in the back pocket of my jeans.
And I had forgot to give her the flowers.
‘sorry, I forgot’
She looked at me again.
‘and your coffee??’
Well I had forgot about the coffee too!!
I quickly drank it and said ‘bye Sneha, bye mom’
‘Take care da.’
She was still smiling.
I looked at her for a few moments.
She asked in sign language “what happened??”
I replied “nothing!”
Then I went down the stairs onto the road
I was thinking of god, fate and everything then.
There was a cool breeze blowing from the river.
It felt cold.
Tears are forming in my eyes.
I walked on…