She carried a little bouquet Of golden-hearted nargis* Her face flushed, her eyes bright She was going to make a gift of them To someone special. The bus stop was empty Save the woman with the flowers And me. I had my phone in my hand She sat on the bench waiting Clutching her bouquet I stood nearby, holding my phone Watching her secretly Trying not to spook her But she was mesmerizing In the tender enchantment That surrounded her
The bus was late She sat there almost motionlessly, quietly But the thrum of her joyful energy Was taken up by the gay bouquet As it danced gently in the breeze She wore yellow shalwar kameez* With little white flowers Or were they stars? They were tiny, almost imperceptible So small I was sure even she wouldn’t know But they shimmered in her gaiety She smiled as she adjusted the stems The flowers bobbed back happily She sat there like a painting Full of joy and anticipation
The bus rolled in Carrying its load of passengers I lingered a while to see The recipient of this picture of love That waited brightly on the seat Together we watched people alight People go left and right Until the last passenger stepped down I climbed on, slowly, hesitantly I sat down near a window and looked out The bouquet now lay inertly on the bench Its sunny heart wrenched Where it had been clenched In the ardent embrace of a pair of hands Drenching it in the liquid warmth of love
They were stars, not flowers On her kameez, five-pronged tridents Piercing, lancing, shattering The perfection of beautiful things Hidden, Unbeknownst to her The fault, I was sure, lay in the stars.
* Nargis: Daffodil
* Shalwar kameez: the long shirt and trousers worn by women in Pakistan and India