Friday, April 27, 2012

On a crowded bus one day

This is about three simple people I met one day on a crowded bus.
I take a 30 min bus ride to reach work everyday and most of the times I manage to get a seat and then I read a novel or am occupied with ‘good morning’ texts which keep me away from everything happening around me until I have to get off at the bus stop next to my office.
But today, the bus was unusually crowded. And so no seat, no novel and no' texting'. My eyes were catching everything in their way and my ears were absorbing every bit of the honking vehicles, the rickety engine of the bus, the chitchatting of with passengers, the loud FM Radio of a few of my fellow passengers (who I think felt that it was there responsibility to be the 'RJ' for the morning crowded bus). 
The loudest of them all was the bus conductor, who kept on shouting at everyone to make space for others getting in .He yelled at the people standing at the foot board to get into the bus and kept shouting for people to collect their tickets.
At first I felt that he was just being mean and irritating, then as I stood there with my hands holding onto one of the bus poles ,tight enough to avoid the sudden breaks,( which for sometime I presumed was the driver having his fun but was so wrong about it) pondering whether the conductor was just being cautious. He looked like a man in his fifties. Had he witnessed some tragic accident of someone traveling carelessly on the footboard? Had this trauma caused him to be protective of all of his passengers? Here was a person who went the extra step of ensuring that people in his bus traveled safely and yet everyone around him(including myself) were displeased at him because he was LOUD??

The second was a woman. A mother or a nanny or a grandmother of a girl who was mentally challenged and needed the help from this woman to carry her to school. The girl was easily twice the size of the mother. She climbed into the bus carrying her child, her school bag and her lunch box ,all at once. Some kind person had made way for the child to sit and the mother was standing there, holding the bag under her arm while trying to hold onto the railing of the bus and the other arm over her child protecting her from the sudden brakes in the morning traffic.
When I looked at her face, her eyes, there was not even the slightest expression of sadness or regret or anything.  She did not complain that life was being unfair to her. She did not complain why God had targeted only her and her child. And she lived with her life, carrying her child, giving her the best she could and more.
What was the mother doing here? Would we call this a sacrifice or was she doing her duty?
It immediately reminded me of my parents.

The third was again a woman. The first thing that my eyes noticed was her Smile. She wore her smile on her face throughout the journey. Everyone around her were cursing at the driver for his driving or the fellow passengers for leaning too far forward onto themselves in the bus but she simply smiled away any nudge or push that someone gave her. She seemed to understand that it was never intentional…
When I saw her face, it gave a strange feeling. It felt as though she was able to understand the limitations of traveling on a crowded bus more that anyone one around her.
And then at a bus stop a whole lot of people got down. A few seats were now available, but she didn’t move from where she was standing. Then a lady called out to her and asked her to come and sit beside her. It was only then did I realize that she was blind. I literally went blank in my head of second or two.
How is it that she saw so much more from the world with her eyes closed that I did with my eyes open?How did she do that? Did her disability make her more grateful and understanding about the simple and small pleasures of life which I many a time choose to ignore?
The entire day that day, I was left with one thought. “Yes, She was blind. And she smiled ….”