In early days, Indians used to export Sikhs and Muslims…” .
I was reading “Discovery of India” written by Jawaharlal Nehru. When I shifted my residence recently, the question that haunted me for sometime was how would I commute to my office since my earlier residence was exactly 12 minutes walking distance from my office.
To my surprise, I found out that now I would need to travel 75 minutes by bus to reach my office. It may be a routine for countless people, but it was a horror for me, at least initially. Gradually, it dawned onto me that I should utilise this time in some constructive reading. Many great men do so.
Charged with this idea, I picked up the much acclaimed book by Nehru to brush up my knowledge of Indian history. Nothing like knowing the history of our homeland. But little did I realise that it was an ardent task to keep myself awake in the bus to read a book.
I rubbed my eyes and re-read the line. Quite mischievously, it has now become, “In early days, Indians used to export silks and muslins…”.
After some days, I found out that most of my co-passengers take the same bus that I do, to reach their own workplace. There were two men who were nearly a year or two away from their retirement and worked in the same office. They used to board the bus from two different stops.
The first person always reserved a seat for his friend. And the moment he located his friend getting into the bus, he would signal him to come quickly and take the seat beside him. But howsoever hard would he try, his friend would not alter his pace. Though most of the times he succeeded.
After taking his seat, his friend would take out the morning paper from his briefcase and without uttering a word hand it over to his benefactor. However, the benefactor would promptly return a couple of pages to him to read too, since he believed in sharing - seat or sheet.
There is a young man who always takes his seat next to the aisle. After sometime, his girlfriend gets into the bus and stands near him, since by now there is no seat available. He looks up, smiles at her and they chat. After half of the distance is covered, he gets up, releases his seat for her and stands near her. She sits, looks up, smiles at him and they continue to chat. Sharing.
There is another young man who gets into the bus, puts his bag in the overhead carrier and then moves to the rear end of the bus to stand, though there is standing space at the front, too. By the time he has to get down, even the aisle is packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder.
Now, he makes his way to the front door of the bus much to the discomfort of the people standing in the aisle and ignoring their comments he collects his bag and alights the bus. Once, he was denied his way through the aisle, nudging people and was made to get down from the rear door instead. However, his bag did travel through the same aisle to him through a chain of hands and people found it rather comfortable. Hand delivery.
Now, there was a bulky man who used to take the bus along with me and was at least four times heavier than me, if not more. He would do anything to get into the bus first, among all the people waiting at my stop to get in. At times, he simply threw himself to catch the door handle even before the bus stopped completely.
I realised that all his efforts were targeted at a window seat. Much to my dismay, I started developing certain affinity for the same seat. A couple of times I did make sincere attempts but could not succeed because of his strong elbows and powerful knees. Worse still, he sensed my ill intention. So after occupying his throne, he would give me a corner glance with a sadist smile.
Decided not to throw in my towel so soon, I found out to my great relief that the bus stop just before my regular one was equidistant from my residence. So I changed my bus stop, got into the bus, occupied his throne and waited for him. When the bus reached his stop, as usual he was the first to get into, and hurriedly made his way to his seat only to see something for which he could not believe his eyes. It must have been my ghost. How is that possible, he thought.
Though, by that time, I had dug my nose deep into the book I could sense the venom coming out of his nostrils. It continued for a week. With my no signs of giving up, he could no longer bear the agony of losing the battle over the throne and decided to take another bus.
Wise men have rightly said, “ Too much attachment is not good”.
Rajib Roy can be reached at RajibRoy@tni.edu.in .
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