The Bus Stop

The tranquillity of a late night stroll can be appealing to those who seek peace of mind and internal-calm.
Crisp night air, mingling with the dull taste of a cool and gentle rain, can combine to create an atmosphere of reflective serenity and wakeful meditation.

With a black, leather briefcase safely tucked under his arm, he casually strolled along the quiet city street with absolutely no qualms in regards to his drenched jacket or soaking hair.

It felt invigorating. It was cleansing.

His shoes clapped against the pavement which acted as a welcome distraction in the silence of his empty path, and the silhouette of the vacant bus stop grew closer with every step.
It enticed him with the offer of a cold metal seat which could comfort his growing sense of lethargy which had only been heightened by the sleepy atmosphere of this late night promenade.

As he approached the stop, he noticed a soft muffled cough resonating from under the canopy.
There, seated at the far end, was another person – quiet like himself – soaked from head to toe, and waiting for the bus to transport them home.

He took a seat on the opposite end of the metal bench, which placed him approximately two meters away from the other bus stop resident.

Her cream coloured trench coat was wrapped around her, a belt holding it firmly in place, and a decorative scarf adorned her head.
Whether it was worn for the sake of previously keeping shelter from the rain, or for her own personal beliefs, the bright colours stood out amongst the monotone canvas of the empty night street.

For a moment, her head turned in his direction and tilted ever so slightly to the side. He quickly looked down at his brown shoes, assuming it rude of him to stare as he had been, but couldn’t help looking over again.

There was something about her that was different.
We all believe ourselves to be different. However, she really was. Her posture alone was enough to display a graceful demeanour, and her sedate expression promised the viewer a profound philosophy or story.

She must have caught him analyzing her presence because her body slowly turned towards him, which in turn had him responding in a similar fashion.
As they sat under the shade of the bus stop canopy, rain drizzling down upon the plastic, she asked him, “What do you see?”

He was definitely caught off guard, the bewilderment clear upon his face, as he gazed into the eyes that searched for an answer.

“Well, if you must ask, I see a young, beautiful, Middle Eastern, Muslim woman!”
That must be the correct answer, no?

Once again, his eyes searched through hers for any sign of contentment or agreement to his reply.
Her expression remained exquisitely solemn and her hands slowly clasped together in her lap.

“Ah, I see.”

“You don’t seem very happy with my response. I hope I haven’t offended you.
… What do you see when you look at me?”

Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly when she smiled and looked back in his direction. He knew something unexpected was coming.
In life, he’d learned to expect the unexpected when his own thoughts or opinions weren’t quite enough.

“I see you. I see the free ability of physical motion, and I see the silent power of personal thought and contemplation.
There is also the freedom of emotion and the right to opinion and belief.
I see dreams and hopes, and fears and anxieties.
I see a human. First and foremost, I see a human.

Age, aesthetic, race, religious belief and gender are all characteristics of our current selves. However, the first thing I see is your right to be.”

The low rumbling sound of an engine filled the air around them as a bus pulled up in front of them. After extending the mechanical length of her cane, the young, beautiful, Middle Eastern, Muslim woman rose to her feet and gave the gentleman a farewell nod.

The tapping sound of her cane, against the pavement and the metal of the bus, synced harmoniously with the almost ethereal notes of the late autumn night downpour.

He watched as she displayed her pass to the driver, most probably upside down, and then slowly walked through to take a seat by the window.
The wheels began to turn once again and the humming sound of the engine faded away until only the rainfall chorus remained to end this melancholic symphony.
Everything grew momentarily still.

“That was my bus…”

Bus stop painting by Fionn Wilson

(Bus stop painting by Fionn Wilson )

Story © Naziyah Mahmood, 2015

Excerpt on home page:


8 thoughts on “The Bus Stop

  1. Pingback: The bus stop (new short story and a new page) | Naziyah Mahmood

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your lovely comment =)

      You’re always such a breath of fresh air!

      Yup! Many people choose to look at the difference between one another, when in actuality we should be looking to our similarities! We’re all human brothers and sisters at the end of the day =)

      • I agree. Although, I would have been guilty too. For me, I would have been fascinated about your culture and customs. I like to say Namaste because that recognizes in everyone how much we really are alike. I wanted to reblog your post, but you only have the press it button. Your message should be shared. ❤ ❤ ❤

      • No no, that’s called compassion!! Showing interest in one anothers cultures and ways of life is a means of widening our horizons and learning more about one another =)

        It’s just when we find ourselves being labelled by one or a few characteristics which then lead on to being treated according to stereotypes and such.

        Regardless of whatever our backgrounds may be, showing love, compassion, peace and care to one another is the only way the world is going to succeed =)

        Thank you so much for your compassion, Colleen, you truly are a star!

  2. That was rather intense. I love how you were able to take a seemingly platitudinous situation and make it engaging. That’s skilful exposition. Well done Naziyah :]

  3. Salaam Naz,
    Just goes to show those who we believe to be “blind” are the ones who see the most ey? By the way, I noticed you have also an adoration for manga and martial arts, I’ll recommend a personal favourite of mine. I’m curious as to what you might think of it, it’s not too long.

    It’s called “Holyland” by Mori Kouji, setted in a grounded world between teens and adults and depicts martial arts in a rather gritty realistic tone under the guise of a victim defending himself against bullies in street fights. In my opinion, it’s one of the best depictions of martial arts in a manga I’ve ever encountered.

    Keep growing strong sister, you’re an amazing inspiration and you’ve given me the morale boost I needed lately to become the strongest version of myself, now to go and find a local MMA gym and go back to Maui Thai and expand into the other arts while holding tightly onto my deen.

    -Izzy (Ismail)

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