The sky is clear tonight, and driving along highways outside cities and villages ensures minimal light and air pollution. It’s quite a treat, for a city dweller like me, to be able to see a clear night sky, black as ink, without an orange fringe in the horizon. The night is an enormous black, velvety blanket, as God intended it to be, with stars scattered like sequins arranged playfully by a child’s hand.
Looking up, I saw Orion today, after a really long time. Less than a decade back, while I was still young, with an active imagination steeped in a world of fantasy, I used to imagine love stories with the warrior of the night sky. I neither had any experience in love, nor enough cynicism to realise I was conjuring up love for gigantic spheres of burning gas millions of light years away from me, and from each other. Which is probably why that relationship worked out well, in my head at least.
It’s been a while since my last overnight journey by bus, a couple of years, maybe. I can’t remember how long it has been.
In my opinion, sleeper buses are the way to go. I cannot sleep sitting up, and I get a crick in my neck trying to find the right position to curl up. Overnight bus journeys aren’t really made for sleeping – at the most, I get a few hours of proper sleep. A major chunk of my journey involves being thrown around like a ragdoll in a rickety, old washing machine, courtesy of the driver. Hopefully, that’s not the case tonight.
While we’re talking about buses, another thing to consider is the air conditioning. Air conditioning in buses gives me a proper, splitting headache, and most buses with air conditioning have that one seat with a leaky conditioning system. Given my luck, I get that seat 8 times out of 10. Because of that, I go with non – AC, and that comes with an advantage – sticking my head out of the window to look at the night sky.
Overnight bus journeys hold a lot of memories for me – growing up, I’d be accompanied by my family, until my late teens. After a certain age, I started traveling on my own. A lot of things have happened in my many overnight travels – I’ve woken up in the middle of the night, to see the light of the full moon flooding the valley, as the bus climbed up the curving roads.
I’ve been awake an entire night, desperately needing to pee, scared to fall asleep in case I wet myself unintentionally, cursing the driver for not stopping the bus the entire time.
I’ve cried bitterly the entire night, been dumped over a call in my second relationship, for a love that lasted for too short a while.
I’ve had long conversations, about life, love and everything in between, with the man I want to be with for the rest of my life.
I’ve made decisions about my career, pondered over my past and wondered about my future.
But every journey, I look up, at the night sky. I look at the stars, as far away as they can possibly be, unmoving in the face of the changing landscape and racing thoughts. My mind calms down, and looking at Orion and the Big Dipper make me realise that no matter how much things have changed, some things will always remain the same.