The Little Things

Sonali Misra

This dialogue was given as a topic in the Inter College Creative Writing Competition conducted by Janki Devi Memorial College, University of Delhi in 2012. Sonali Misra placed first with this piece.

The Passenger noticed her as soon as she stepped on to the bus. A first timer, for sure— he could tell by the way she clutched her bag close to her body and kept her eyes frozen to the ground. As she paid the conductor for the ticket, she moved towards the back of the bus to where he stood. He knew this was his opportunity. He strode ahead and slightly grazed her arm with his hand as he passed her. He couldn’t contain the smirk that appeared on his face nor could he stop it from spreading into a grin as he saw her wince.

The Security Guard saw her approach him from the corner of his eye. Being much too engrossed in his newspaper, he didn’t turn to face her until he heard an “Excuse me, bhaiya1. She was lost, she said. His eyes shifted from her moving lips to her breasts. He heard her pause, and he looked back up at her face as she shifted her weight nervously from one foot to the other. She was waiting for an answer. He told her he didn’t know but pointed her towards a vague direction. As she thanked him and turned away, he couldn’t help but glance at her swaying back before he shifted his attention, once again, to the screaming headlines of the day.

The Neighbour heard her exclaim, “Please, stop!”, and he slid his hand in between the closing doors of the lift. She thanked him and entered the small space. He turned to his left to look at the flustered girl and asked her if she had taken his advice to try modeling as a career. He noted how her expression changed to one of controlled gleefulness, or at least that’s what he thought to himself. She suppressed the grimace, and answered by shaking her head. They had already reached the sixth floor. He extended his hand and gently laid it behind her waist. He told her he thought she would make a great model. She took half a step away from him, and as soon as the lift doors opened on the eleventh floor, she stepped out. He shouted a “Good night” at her but she did not respond to the closing doors. She walked towards her apartment and met her father at the entrance. He asked her who that was and she answered by saying, “Mr. Raheja”. He admonished her for not wishing her elders as she walked past him into the living room.

She entered her room, dropped her bag on a chair and turned to look into the mirror. She walked towards it slowly… closer and closer… until her face was just a few inches away from it. She gazed deeply into her own eyes and whispered,

Badhe badhe shehron mein chhoti chhoti baatein hoti rehti hain.2

1 Colloquial Hindi term for Brother
2 An iconic dialogue from a popular Bollywood film, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, it roughly means: ‘Such little things keep on happening in big cities.’ It was spoken by the male lead to the female one, and its context is placed in romantic banter with repeated gestures of melodramatically gazing into each other’s eyes. The dialogue in this context depicts the girls inability to depend on anyone but herself.