Most of us know how irritable it can be to travel in a crowded bus.
Sweat from skin pores exchanged for free, dirty seats, smell of the iron rods and people struggling to stand without touching each other. It needs himalayan patience to travel in a bus,. For me, it does.
Well, today was a little different.I managed to get the last row corner seat , the one before the conductor seat( unlucky me, the window panes were closed but lucky i atleast got a place to sit) .
S0, the entire journey was about how to escape my co-passenger’s sweaty skin touching mine. I tried to pull a book from my bag , phone from my bag and what not ,so she could adjust herself to not cross that bloody line of demarcation between the two of us. I don’t mind even if it is a hairline gap but i have an extremely high rate OCD issue with anyone overlapping the seating space between two strangers. Anyway ,coming to the point..
The bus was crowded which is an obvious routine. I have great respect for conductors and drivers. We talk of handling a few customers and look at them, they need to handle a whole lot every day.. I can never be patient enough to keep exchanging tickets for money and then the whole “change” issue comes into play. The passenger yells. the conductor yells at twice the intensity ( i dont blame him) and this goes on …
Today, This conductor aged about 50 , was pretty calm and composed .I noticed that the conductor was very energetic even at the fag end of the day. Amidst the heavy crowd, there was a girl sitting in the conductor seat through out the journey. I was wondering how the conductor let her sit like that which never usually is the case. It took 1 hour to reach 1/4th of the distance .Time and again i had to signal my lovely co-passenger about the LOC rule that she needed to adhere to ,with my cheap and futile tactics. Meanwhile, Whenever some passenger rubbed the conductor on the wrong side , this girl helped him to maintain his cool.
After a while . the Crowd slowly started to fade away including my lovely co-passenger. Now i had enough space to sit comfortably and BREATHE. In between, I heard some conversation between the conductor and that girl.
The girl said ” appa , neenga okkandukereengala? ( Do you want to sit?)“. ” The conductor said ” nee enga okkanduppa appo ( where will you sit then ?) . Naa nikkaren . enaku prechanai illa. nee okkaaru. ( I ll stand.. you be seated I dont have a problem)”
Point to note — The bus was almost empty . Here was a father who was so excited to have his daughter onboard in his dynamic work place and he wanted to give her the best treatment he could afford. ( in this case, his seat )They discussed about how to handle June month’s expenses and were pulling the mother character waiting for them to come home :-).There was so much love and i could feel that. It was a little overwhelming for me!
For once I did not feel like getting down from that dirty bus. My stop arrived. I got up smiling from my seat. I guess the duo loved my silent company as well. They too smiled back at me as a parting gift. A gift that will bring me a kind of peace whenever i think of this beautiful yet simple experience.