[Let me pause and explain something interesting about the folks who board the bus at my stop. I have never seen any of them talk to each other. Neither have I spoken to any; until today. The interesting part is that most greet each other only by a faint facial nod accompanied by a faint smile. And in the last 4 months that I have been taking this bus, all I have done is adopt this way of greeting making no attempt to change or greet better. Regarding the facial nod greeting we do, I have often wondered if my eye lids travel a longer distance in their usual blinking activity compared to my face when I greet others at the bus stop every morning.]
We greeted each other with our usual faintest facial nod possible and stood there to wait for the bus. The bus which is usually on time did not come even after 10 mins of its scheduled time today. As we stood, I noticed that this colleague seemed anxious. He would glance at his watch every few seconds and would look in the direction of the bus. I thought he was late for a meeting or a client call. Wanting to start a conversation, I looked at him and said -
Me – The bus is late today
Colleague – Yes
(I had not expected a Yes/No answer from him. I thought since we had been greeting each other for the last few months, he would give an extended answer which will lead to a good conversation. But his ‘Yes’ lead me no where. Having made up my mind to talk to him, I did not want to give up so easily).
Me – It’s usually on time. Haven’t seen it this late
Colleague – Yes…(after a brief phase) You can expect anything today right?
Me – today? (I was confused)
Colleague – Yes, today. You can expect anything to happen and you have to be prepared
(Now I was really lost)
Me – Okay (I gave a puzzled look at him)
Colleague – have you forgotten? Today is Friday the 13th
Me – Okay (I wanted to ask “So?”)
Colleague – Moreover the year is 2013. So it’s Friday the 13th in 13.
(Suddenly it occurred to me that there is some taboo associated with Friday the 13th)
Me – Oh correct.. (Not wanting to show my ignorance, I nodded my head)
He did not say anything and I had no clue what to say. Actually what could I say? I don’t believe in these things and I had not expected the conversation to go this way. If Friday the 13th was really a dooms day, the earth should have evaporated by now.
Our office bus arrived in the meanwhile and we both headed towards it. As we reached the bus, he looked at me and said –
Colleague – Be careful, today is not a good day. Don’t think its superstition; the whole world believes it.
Me – Okay (I smiled at him)
Once inside the bus, I tried to recall what had just happened. He was right in way. All I wanted to do was to talk to a colleague whom I see every day. But of all the days in the year, I had initiated the conversation on Friday the 13th which ensured I never initiate a conversation with him again. Friday the 13th is truly a dooms day.
~Narendra V Joshi