Two women board the bus every day.
One has a heavy squint, wears her hair like
a mask, war-paint lashings of mascara. One
is lean, brown and long like a burnt drumstick tree
leaning into the wind and sun. One could be
a spy, black mole on her cheek too vivid to be
real. Both carry bags and sunglasses almost matching
each other’s. One wears jackets and coats in shapes
I name in my head, she smells of creams and stale,
cheap perfume from the lesser malls spritzed carefully
in the armpits. One looks around constantly, laughs
to herself, seems unhappy when the bus stops
for her. One falls asleep halfway, punctually.
She snores a little and we all look away in a chorus
of embarrassment. One says her prayers when she
thinks no one is watching, her fingers fret over hidden
beads, counting off fierce desires under her righteous
breath. One waits for the other, though they might
not be friends. Both are ordinary, remarkable only
on this crowded bus at this stark hour. One could be
me and maybe there are more than two of them.
Anuradha Vijayakrishnan was born in India. She completed her Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from Calicut University and her post graduate studies in management from XLRI, India. A trained Carnatic singer, she lives in Dubai with her family and pursues a full time career in the payments industry.
She has published fiction and poetry in New Writing 14, Magma, Asia Literary Review, 91st Meridian, Asian Cha, Indian Literature, Conversation Papers Quarterly, Aesthetica, and Contemporary Verse 2. She was long listed for the Man Asian Literary prize in 2007 and in 2008 won a special mention in the All India Harper Collins Poetry Competition. She was a featured poet in the inaugural edition of the its kind Poetry with Prakriti festival (Chennai) in 2007. Anuradha is an alumna of Western Michigan University’s Prague Summer Program and got nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes in 2010. Her debut novel, Seeing the girl, was published in 2014 by LiFi Publications, New Delhi.