Foxy Lady always traveled by bus, not by choice, but hypocritically. This Foxy Lady had an addiction for window seats. She was asthmatic and often in winter she had bouts of breathlessness owing to the rough-dry draughts. She still persevered; sitting in the aisle was suffocating, heck, Orwellian. She shuddered at the thought of a traffic jam with sweat dripping from dark balding men down their soot-skin shirts and hairy arms. She preferred to look out at neon lights adoring billboard like incense sticks around an urban deity. She often lost herself in dreams, which she promptly forced herself to forget once she got back to the reality of the carbon chugging vehicle.

That day she incidentally was not dreaming. The bus was uncannily empty. By the time the bus wrestled itself out of the gallimaufry of Maniktala, a young man with a freshly shaved head had boarded the bus. He said he had lost his father, and being just twenty-two lacked the means to cremate him. He looked earnest and presented a chit of a Death Certificate to his audience who packed this morsel of a spectacle carefully in their Tiffin boxes to office. He needed help. Few fifty plus babus jingle jangled coins in their book pockets. Foxy Lady pulled down her shades from her hair. The young man became locked in her memory as that which caused her hair to ruffle on the way to Ultadanga.

A couple of months later Foxy Lady again spotted the same young man at Esplanade. The same farce, she thought, but she didn’t pull down her shades, it was past nine and she was getting late and impatient. However, as it would unfold, hers were not the only eyes that saw through the postiche (or the lack of it!). The trick failed in the pledge itself. The prestige was obviously not an issue anymore. The young man was dragged off the bus; the bus itself stood its ground though, providing entertainment that outstretched the worth of the fares of its passengers.

Foxy Lady started dreaming again, but this time taking an exception. She sleepwalked. She got down the bus, and took the pseud by the hand and hoicked him in a moving taxi, in matter of seconds, so unexpectedly that the surging, growing mob couldn’t react. Disappointed the bus pedaled off towards the next red light, like a lame kid in Hamlin in search of his Pied Piper.

In the speeding taxi, the young man was too dazzled to speak. Foxy Lady spoke, “Don’t say a word, take it as a birthday present.” The other mumbled, ” But today is not my …”. The taxi braked, Foxy Lady paid the fare and and walked into some lamppost punctuated lane, into a dim yellow 40 Watt darkness.

How the dream ended, and what happened after it did is insignificant and inconsequential.

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