The scorching heat had unveiled its wrath to the fullest as the fifth bus overtook me without a whiff of guilt. The expanses on either sides of NH7 lay barren with a few strays wandering limp and dehydrated.
The mirage of seeing many a bus made my hopes soar and dampen on understanding the truth of the eye’s magnificent mistake.
The yearning for momentary pleasure of clutching the handle bar of a bus and feeling the icky plasticky seats had reached its peak. Finally the oncoming rickety old bus slowed down for testing the incoming passenger reflex. There is just a moment to get in the bus. And failing to sync the right moment with the driving would mean dangling down the handle bars or even worse, kissing the mud on the ground.
Well, the yearning to get in stops, kickstarting the desire to get out. The never lasting host of desires is a characteristic of the common man. While the battle of desires wages war, I sit on the dilapidated seats of bus whose legroom was set eyeing the dwarfs and midgets. The suffering of the leg to squeeze in numbs the blood flow to the lower part of the body, giving the upstairs copious amounts for quality thoughts.
The conductor enters asking people for tickets. The folded notes and bundle of tickets in his hands, he goes squealing ‘tickets’ in a baritone. Buying tickets and the horizontally folded balance from the balding man whose eyes hinted remorse or last night’s hangover, I surveyed the surroundings. People were ingressing and degressing the bus at regular intervals. The naive innocence of the village folk and nonchalance of lives lighting up in the way they talked made me realise how much filth has piled up in the city mouse in me.
The bus stops at a make shift tea stall where driver leaves the bus idling while he stands out stretching and puffing away rings of acrid cancerous smoke. The tea shop boy brings him a plastic cup of piping hot tea. Caffeine and nicotine pumped him side by side, awakening and rejuvenating him after a supposedly hectic monotonous day. Ready to take off, he got in and chugged the key. The rackety engine rose to life with a groan.
There were hawkers plummeting into a bus everytime it stopped at a big junction. There were samosas, pineapples, cucumbers, water melons and many more. The aroma of those went in and triggered a gastronomic response making people go for buying. Rummaging their money sources for coins and loose change, they bought their item of desire and started indulging the momentary pleasure. As the bus kicked off from the junction, the hawkers would make haste in collecting money and jumping off the bus. Some unlucky ones would run behind the bus for the cash till it reached an unsurpassable speed. Weary eyed and having lost a potential sale, they would walk back. The freebie wielding man would gobble the succulence of the fruit which would house in it a curse of a common man.
The winding village roads and occassional entry to the highway was in a way a fun journey. The unpolluted air brushing against the face was one of its kind in this part of the country.
People were getting down at their destinations and moving to pursue their daily activities of life. As the cycles of the clock moved, I too stepped down and made my way through the blazing sun.