JOURNEY IN A CROWDED BUS
The bus stopped a little away from its regular stop. The whole crowd the passengers of the two buses rushed towards it. An earlier bus was cancelled. How to board the bus was a problem. There was no option but to use force. I used all the strength, pushing others back-all the abuses lashed at me- got in- very fortunate for the bus moved as soon as I managed a standing seat between the rows of sitting seats. Yes I’ll call it a standing seat for it was not possible to move even an inch from the space I was occupying. I tried to see out. None was left. All had managed to be in that black hole. Will you like to call the passengers men and women? No they were just jute bags filled with flesh and bones. Poor bags are loaded by others. These bags loaded themselves. Jute bags won’t mind if they are placed one upon the other. But these bags of skin grumbled.
It was June. The atmosphere at the bus-stand was very hot. But now all the passengers were adding to the heat inside. Even hell might have been cooler. I! No everyone was thirsty now. Water? It was not an A.C.compartment that water would be supplied. Yes you could have it when the bus stops. But why should it? It was an express-only two stops-one at a wayside restaurant providing free meals to the driver and the conductor. The other was near a silk emporium- a private one. No, no the driver has not to purchase anything. He has just to collect the usual halting charges. Almost all the passengers were out at the restaurant at least to have water, such a big crowd. I just thought of the djinn of the bottle. How could be enter the bottle. The whole crowd that even the hotel could have not accommodated entered the bus like the djinn in the bottle again.
Who to complain to? Everyone was perspiring and considering everyone else responsible for his inconvenience. A sudden break, A sea of heads moving backwards striking one another- some heavily –cursing the driver. These drivers have a grudge against the passengers who sit comfortable while he has to do his heavy duty. But today the scene was different. The driver was as safe in his cabin as ever while the passengers were at the receiving end. But old habits don’t leave a man. The driver had a sea of passengers that day to take his revenge upon.
‘For God’s sake don’t crush my foot’. But why have you put it under my shoe? Just push it back’, strange argument. A small child started weeping – might have been used to cooler in the summer. How could one explain him it was not house-it was a moving boiler. A bump again, everyone collided against someone else. The bus had just crossed over a speed breaker. ‘All hands in’ cried the conductor. The bus was passing through a tunnel. The lights were on to let the passengers not forget their plight.Lo! The tunnel was over. But the bus stopped with a jerk. Bedding had rolled down the roof of the bus. A few passengers hustled out of the bus. The bedding was brought back and lifted up the roof.
At last the bus reached Mangalore. What a comfort it was to be out of that luggage carrier all perspiring- all cursing the transport system of the state. It was a big relief to be out of the black hole after three hours torture especially for the children and women.