And she wasn’t there

Each day – for the past two months and some – when I get off my bus and walk the couple hundred  metres  to the hole office I work at, I take a left turn off Union, down the dingy stairs via the back roads on to Guild street and then into work. Most days I am plugged into my iPod, listening to whatever catches my fancy on that day, hands in my pocket deep in thought. Nine days out of ten, just before I take  the turn I see her – a lone black face bobbing in a sea of browns and whites,  wrapped up to the nines waiting for her bus. She can’t be more than 5′-2″, usually rocks a ‘fro and dangles her little bag in the tell-tale Nigerian chic ninety-degree arm pose.  At first all there was were a couple of  furtive glances, followed by the straight face pretending-I-never-took-a-peek look. And then with time, and the familiarity of a shared routine, there was the almost imperceptible nod and the odd mouthed greeting.

Today, just before I took the turn, I looked, but she wasn’t there.  As I walked the last few steps to work, there was a certain sense of disappointment as though I were a kid who had been promised a treat which was taken away at the final moment.  I got to thinking about how one face – however distant and removed – merely by being there and by its sameness can become part of a routine, something to be looked forward to amidst the frothing morass that is daily life.

I do not think our non-verbal exchanges  – if I can call these exchanges – have ever extended beyond a couple of seconds at the most, but for me at least they have become part of my commute. In a logic-defying way, I am left hoping that she will be there…tomorrow.