The Cookie That Wasn’t

The funny and embarrassing moment of my life.

Travelling is one thing that gives life to some people and is a chore for others. The incident that I want to share was narrated by a friend of mine when we last sat and talked. I am writing this in his words.

I live in Pune, India. A beautiful place to live in, a big departure from the crowd and noise of Mumbai and Bangalore, the other two IT centric locations in India. My home town is a 15 hour bus journey. It was Diwali time and i was home celebrating the festival of light with my family and I had to leave the next day to be back at the office on Tuesday. We celebrated with all tradition that we could garner and had the stomach full diwali dinner. We had some routine talks about my marriage and when should I go ahead with it. It was sleeping time by then and I had to leave tomorrow by 2 PM to reach pune by 7 AM the next day. Mom cooked some puris and dry fried potatoes to go along and packed them in; although I prefer having my food warm so I asked her not to pack much. Father came home for lunch, his office being nearby. I greeted my parents, touched their feet and left. The Bus stop was a modest five minute walk. I was at the bus stop only ten minutes and my bus was there, strange departure from the previous experiences where it was always an hour late. As i got into the bus, the conductor checked my ticket and as I was about to find my seat and sit, the conductor called out and said, “Bhaiya, you have got the wrong bus, your bus is trailing by 10 minutes, this is Sanjay Travels“. I was embarrassed but wasn’t surprised. ‘The Bus was late after all’, this was a familiar feeling, I made an embarrassing face and got down as the bus left.

I waited another 15 minutes and my bus was finally there. I boarded, cautious from my last embarrassing venture but I was safe as the conductor confirmed my seat and I was on my way. The weather was pleasant transitioning from monsoon to winter. I took a two hour nap and it was half past four and I was starting to crave for my evening tea and snacks. I asked the conductor on when was he planning to make a intermediate halt. He informed me that they will be taking a break in half an hour which was fine by me. I spent that half hour planning on how I will spend the next weekend. The bus was slowly coming to a halt and driver started parking the bus in the parking space of that eatery. People were already standing up in the pathway before the bus could stop, a common sight in most of my travels, funny and illogical at the same time. I sat there till everyone got down and then I off-boarded.

I went straight to attend the nature’s call and then to the cash counter of the eatery. I purchased a pack of ‘Goodday Cookies’ and a cup of tea and sat on a bench that had a table and put my tea and cookie pack on the table. I tore open the cookie pack. There also lay a bunch of newspapers. I picked the celebrity section of the newspaper and started catching up on the latest gossip. I went through it quickly and then putting down the paper I picked the national news as I sipped on my tea. Just then a person who was not a familiar face, perhaps from one of the many buses that had also halted for snacks arrived and sat besides me. He had a cup of tea in his hand. As i was reading, the person picked a cookie from my cookie pack and started munching it. I was surprised and angry at the same time but somehow it felt funny. The person didn’t look like a beggar or poor by any means. He was around 5`6’’ with a average built and wore glasses, perhaps a business man. I forgave him without letting him know as I was the rightful master of that cookie pack and if anyone wanted to lay claim to that cookie would have to go over my dead hungry stomach. With this confidence, I picked a cookie from the pack and dip it in my tea and gulped it. I then looked at the man who I just forgave in my mind, looking at me with the same expression that i looked at him the last time. That made me nervous, we exchanged stares and I couldn’t look into his eyes for long, maybe because he was elder and looked rich. I dint know what to say when the person just pulled the cookie pack to his side and started munching another cookie. This made me go red and I also picked a cookie and stared eating, picking another one before I could finish the last one, stuffing one after the other till my mouth was full. The person sat there looking at me while still eating the cookie he had picked earlier. I could see the person was about to say something in anger and i was ready to counter as this was my territory that we were fighting for.

As he was about to speak, his bus driver blew a loud horn as they were ready to leave. He stood up hastily and said, “Bro, learn some manners” and left. Before I could reply he ran towards his bus and boarded it running. I was shocked at his words but I picked up my last cookie and ate it.

I kept the newspaper down and finished my tea. I still had time before our bus left and so I decided to have another look at the celebrity section and picked up the newspaper. As i picked the newspaper, I saw a pack of open cookies that I had put on the table. The whole incident that had happened a while back came running through my mind but with my dumbness superimposed on it. I was smiling one second and cursing myself the other. I wanted to catch a cab and say sorry to that person. I felt so dumb that I wanted to hide my face and run away. Finally I caught hold of the situation smiling and got up to board the bus.

I still have that cookie wrapper with me to remind me of that funny incident. It gives me smile even today.

My friend's name is Jay Bang. He’s an IT professional and works in Pune for a multinational firm.

-Jitendra Singh