The mistakes of other people are usually patently obvious. Our own are tougher to recognize- R is for Ricochet.

I should start this story probably by introducing myself and going on and on about my interests (which are bleh), my looks (which are meh), or my life in general (which is also bleh) but I want to tell a story of karma, instead, with a little twist. It goes.
I remember the happiness I felt the day I came back to school. The freedom. The joy. I was back in my own space. Answerable to no one. It felt good.
‘Yar’, Zoe screamed. Or more like Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrr
I laughed happily as I hugged her.
‘You always resume late’, she accused and I grinned in return.
‘I’ve missed you crazy’.
‘Me too.’
‘Giiiirl, you look really good.’
‘You too, girl. You look like a million dollars.’
‘You’ve eaten your parents out of house and home.’
‘That’s not true.’
‘Oh yes, it is. You look real good.’
‘So do you.’
It was the normal routine.
But I couldn’t wait to get my stuffs arranged and have a bath and just relish the feeling of not being cooped up in the house.
Zoe plopped down on my bed. I groaned inwardly.
‘How was your trip?’, she asked.
‘It was fine. And fast’. I paused. ‘Guess what happened. A girl on the bus threw up on me. It was disgusting. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hit something. It was awful’.
I sighed as I started unpacking, grimacing at the memory. I wasn’t exaggerating to Zoe, as it turns. I was sitting in the bus, which was as packed as fishes in a can of sardine. My only solace was the earphone blasting some superb work of Beyonce. And suddenly, this girl seated next to me barfed me. Barfed me!!! It took every ounce of self-control not to hit her, or at least snap at her. I don’t consider myself a heartless person, but being cramped in a bus, for a six-hour journey and still two hours to the end, and barfed upon was just too much for my self-control.
‘Was she ill or something?’ Zoe asked, after laughing.
I shrugged noncommittally and went back to my unpacking.
‘How are your parents and siblings though?’
‘Fine. How’s yours?’
‘Very well. I have to go pick up my dress from the tailor’s in a few minutes.’ Zoe shrugged and jumped down from my bed. `I’ll leave you to get unpacked’
I mentally did a victory dance. ‘Okays. See you later. Thanks’
I unpacked without much interruption, had my bath and just laid there for some minutes smiling, relishing the freedom and personal space. Before bed, however, I decided to go upstairs to see some of my artsy girls. There was hooting and cheering; there was never a dull moment with the artsy girls- drama queens, the lot of them. After the usual pleasantries and conversations, I entertained them again with the barf incident, embellishing a little to add ‘it reeked of rotten egg’. They hooted and cheered and sympathized and added it to their jokes dictionary. I ate the noodles they prepared, satisfied with my day’s work and bade them goodnight.
The next day was Monday and I went to class. There was the usual welcome hugs and kisses. During lunch, I entertained my clique of friends again with what I already labelled ‘the barf story’. It elicited lots of laughter and grimaces and sympathies, again.
In between laughs, Rab sighed and said solemnly, ‘it could have been you, Yara’ to which the whole company nodded.
I shrugged, ‘I know better than to barf in a bus’…
Those words. My ridiculous confidence. All my undoing.
Fast forward two months later and I had to go home, again in a bus. I left the hostel early, on my parents’ request, so I can get home early. Of course, the park was still half empty so I had to wait. And wait I did. I wish I didn’t, though. I met an acquaintance from my old neighborhood traveling in the company of her brother. Oh, we exchanged pleasantries and I stuck to her, happy to have someone I knew in the same bus with me. Soon, she complained of hunger and her brother encouraged her to get food from the buka which he was already eating from. I cheered her on, too. Soon enough, I also wanted to try it. I signaled the server and she rushed to my side. Just when I was giving her my order of rice, little beans and two pieces of meat, I caught the eye of a cute cute guy who was getting his ticket from the conductor. Our eyes met. Held. I sighed. I didn’t want my first impression to be ‘the girl eating at the buka’ . Too late. I decided to make the best out of it. Ate my first piece of meat at the middle of the meal. Food isn’t half bad. Cute cute guy stares at me occasionally. I finished my meal. The second piece of meat looks suspicious. Big and thick-looking. I shrugged mentally and popped it into my mouth. And froze. It was the hardest piece of meat. It is so hard it might be the cow’s horn. I couldn’t pop it right back out. And I definitely cannot keep chewing because it was sure as hell not going to lead anywhere. So I did the best thing I could think of. I swallowed. Or tried to swallow. And choked. And tried to drink water. And choked. And threw the piece of meat up. And all eyes were on me, cute cute guy inclusive.
This is not happening, I though in horror. I closed my eyes briefly and opened them to see everyone looking at me concernedly. Old acquaintance patted my back and crooned ‘sorry’. Cute cute guy came closer and ‘sorried’ me too throwing in an ‘are you okay’ into the mix. I nodded, my mind reeling. Is this really happening?
No, I have to salvage the situation.
And did the only thing I could think of.
I reached into my bag and brought out an inhaler and puffed. Shamelessly puffed. It made an empty sound. The sound of my last shred of dignity.
And no, I am not asthmatic. The inhaler belongs to Zoe which I always keep around for when she forgets to move about with hers. Which she always does.
Understanding flared in all their eyes and the sorry intensified. Then the wait. Nothing happened. Then wonderment. But, nobody kindly asked the question I knew was on all their minds-‘Wasn’t an asthmatic patient supposed to be gasping for breath without their inhaler?’ I sighed and looked around warily. I locked eyes with cute cute guy again. He lips quirked. I ducked my head ashamedly.
I didn’t barf anyone, technically. But I did barf myself. My scarf was stained something fierce.
I learned a great lesson that morning. Karma is real. And it hits like a champion.
I never told the ‘barf story’ anymore. But, I’m sure somewhere, someone would tell my own barf story.


*buka- an outdoor eating spot.