Allegra – it is a female name of Italian origin meaning joyful, happy, lively. Well that’s what the internet told me. But to me Allegra is special…
I take a particular bus every morning and this goes straight to a hospital. I meet many people on it, some rather frequently. I have my own bus-friends, if that’s a way to call them. I talk to some while some others prefer to only give me a smile. But we all acknowledge each other’s presence every morning.
One such morning Allegra showed up on the bus. Well, I didn’t know her then. She had injured her head pretty bad. Her skull was broken open. I won’t mention details of what I saw for not everyone of you is comfortable reading such stuff. But bottom line is that she was hurt and was going to the hospital. She didn’t talk to anyone. She was with three other girls.
I saw Allegra on the bus almost every morning after that. And on the second day, I smiled at her. On the fourth day, she was by herself and came to sit beside me. I smiled and said hi. She didn’t reply. She couldn’t talk. She was very robotic in her demeanour. But I assumed it was her injury that did this to her. I continued to talk and she nodded from time to time, as if to say she understood and was with me. And this went on for a couple of days or more. I suggested to her that she should find a hat for herself, one that might feel soft and cosy, for it wasn’t exactly warm every day. Honestly, it was because people stared at her every morning, at her injury to be precise. I didn’t want her to feel stared at. I wanted her to be comfortable. The next day, she turned up with a yellow fluffy hat. And she found me again and sat beside me. I enjoyed meeting her. Everyday I told her a bit more about myself and my friends here and asked her if she’d like to be friends with me. She didn’t say a word.
One of these days I sat with J to have lunch and told him about her. I could say he was perhaps surprised I even made an attempt to talk to her. And we talked about her and in passing he mentioned that I should carry a notepad the next time. For a second I hesitated for it felt odd. But here’s what J said, almost verbatim… “Well if I were her, I’d actually feel nice that somebody is making an attempt to also involve me in a conversation…” This stuck with me.
The next day I carried a little notepad and a pen to the bus. And I was very nervous! I said hi to her as she sat next to me. I fidgeted and then decided I am going to do this. I am going to give J’s idea a shot! I pulled out the notepad and asked her if she could write. She stared at me. I thought this was a blunder. But she took a second and then nodded. I could feel my heart beat fastening. Heck, I thought it’s going to tear me apart and explode!
So I asked her… “What’s your name?”
Allegra – she wrote.
I didn’t know what this name meant then…but it brought a smile to my face. Something about how beautiful this name sounds. I thought it was befitting. And I learnt a few more things about her. She likes peanut MnMs, she’s 12 and she likes the colour blue.
Unfortunately it wasn’t a long conversation. I had to get off the bus. I put my hand out to ask for my notepad. I wanted to save those pages on which she wrote. I wanted to put them away safely in my diary. But she put her palm on mine and kept the notepad instead. I smiled.
I never met Allegra again. But she had touched my life in a way so beautiful…her strength inspires me. Although I never saw her smile, I will always remember her with a smile on her face!
Allegra – joyful!