Overheard: words from half a conversation, past nudging the present. I look up. She smiles. Words ensue. Inevitably, the question pops out. "Are you from Madras?" Her face lights up. "You too?" disbelievingly. "Yeah" I confess. "Do you stay with your parents?". "No, they live back home. In India. I live alone". Observed: Heartfelt sympathy.
Espied: a stranger's startled upward glance. A smile offered. A conversation sparked. The question "Are you from Madras?", unexpected. To travel half the world and hear this on my first bus trip. Startled into commitment, "I shifted here as soon as I got married. With my husband." Her steady gaze met fleetingly. Recognised: Heartfelt sympathy.