It’s about half past 7 on a pleasant wednesday evening . An old rickety bus squeaked to a stop in front of me . It’s almost full . There are a couple of vacant seats at the back . Vacant seats are a rarity in the late evenings , so it’s probably my lucky day, I thought to myself .
The conductor walked up to me as soon as I got on to the bus , not allowing me enough time to claim my seat before someone else did . I forced my way to the seat and the conductor followed me . With a subtle shake of his head , he asked where I wanted to go . “B.P.L” , I proudly replied . He ripped a ticket from the bunch and asked me for the exact change of Rs 7 .I handed him a ten rupee note . He looked up and frowned , as though I’d asked him to sit through an entire season of The bold and the beautiful . He wasn’t an intimidating figure . He was about 5’6” , slightly bulky with unkempt hair but he made sure that everyone knew he was incharge . He turned the ticket around and scribbled 3 on it and slapped it on my hand with some sort of contempt .
You know how they say technology can be misused ? Well , there was this one bloke blasting bad music from his phone and that , for me , figures in the top ten misuses of good technology .
There was the frail old man sitting with the support of a stick . His face was wrinkled and his hair , or whatever was left of it , was grey with a few traces black here and there . He was trying to fall asleep but the shuddering of the bus made that close to impossible .
There was an energetic flower-seller speaking so loudly over her phone , that even my best attempt to not eavesdrop , failed .The lovely smell from her basket of flowers created an atmosphere of pseudo-calmness in the rickety bus .
At every signal , the bus choked , spat and stalled . Forcing the driver to open the engine box and quickly set everything in order . And then , at one signal he failed . The adamant bus refused to respond to the frantic revival attempts by the driver . The conductor walked over to the engine box and tried something himself . By now , all the passengers in the bus are craning their necks over to see what was happening . The music stopped , the old man smiled ( I’m pretty sure he did ) and tried to catch some sleep and the flower lady had rushed up to the front of the bus to give her opinion to the driver ( or so it seemed ) . Then the conductor turned around and declared that his attempts had failed . There was an air of disappointment in the bus . Everyone had been anticipating a last minute recovery , much like in the movies . He then announced that the bus would start if everyone got off and pushed the bus . There was a sudden increase in the buzz in the bus . We all looked at each other with excitement ! Everyone wanted to be a hero and save the grand old bus and get it running again .
The conductor got off first , followed by about 10 young men . And then they pushed . And pushed . And suddenly the bus gasped and shivered and started once more ! A spontaneous round of applause went off for the “brave” young saviours and soon , the atmosphere was back to normal . Slowly , the excitement wore off .
Couple of signals later , the bus choked again , and a couple of hundred metres later , rolled to a standstill . The conductor and driver got together again . Trying to recover the bus . I stood up and slowly moved up to the front to see what exactly they were doing .All of a sudden , I sensed some activity behind me and turned around . Only to find that the bus was empty . This , my friends , is not a horror story . Everyone had just run away . Apparently , no one wanted to be part of the rescue anymore ! Not wanting to be left behind , and besides , I doubt if I could have helped too much in moving a bus ( I’m not the perfect definition of strong ) , I left too .
I was quite close to my house , so I walked along , recalling the sequence of events that had just unfolded . Was it the fault of young men like myself that the bus lay there now , screaming silently for help ? We saved it once and could have done it again but maybe the grand old bus had run his course .
Maybe next time , I’ll lend a hand and single handedly save the bus . Yeah Maybe..Next time….