Dated : 14-02-08
It was a strenuous journey back home. I had been sitting in the bus for the past 2 hours and was getting pretty bored . It was almost 1 am and I just couldn’t get enough sleep as I shivered in the cold due to the air conditioning of the bus. Being a regular Volvo traveler, I was used to the uncomfortable way of sitting and the irritating air conditioners that blew all the stale cold air right above on our heads and with the blaring TV that barely had anything new to entertain. Yet that day was awfully cold in particular and I was trying to get some warmth by cuddling inside the shawl I had. I closed my eyes and was dozing off to sleep. And I don’t know how the time passed…….
Somewhere around early morning(din know what time it was and din bother to open my eyes and see the time as it would shatter my sleep), I could hear some voices and those voices grew louder and I gradually opened my eyes that were straining to open. The conductor was screeching at the top of his voice– “SURAT…… SURAT” and I again dozed off as there was yet an hour to reach my destination BHARUCH. The bus honked off again. I was already dog-tired due to the painful sitting through out the journey and the blissful sleep was inviting me to its paradise of slumber. I welcomed it with all pleasure. Some time later, a looming voice was heard but could not comprehend what it said. And then I went totally blank and found myself sinking deeper and deeper into an abyss of darkness……
It is said that Man is the happiest creature on earth only when he is sleeping becoz that’s the only time perhaps, when he thinks absolutely nothing. It can be said – Sleep brings out the child like innocence in man. And a man, to whomsoever sleep comes voluntarily is a blessed soul….(So I consider myself one ). That was a sleep without dreams and no disturbance and that was going to prove me wrong very shortly……
I could feel some light coming all over my closed eyes. Was wondering how come the sun had woken up so early….And gradually opened my eyes by knitting my brows. Something was not right. I could sense it. The surrounding area dint appear familiar to me. I sat up straight and shifted the curtains all towards left and saw a board with letters written in red – PALEJ. My legs went weak. I had missed my stop that had silently gone 40Kms behind. I sprang up from my seat and went straight to the conductor to admonish him. The crazy fellow kept shouting all the time except for my stop. But as I approached him to reproach, I realized that I was more at fault than he was at. And all I could blurt is “When is the next stop bound to come?????” to which a more depressing reply shot back courteously- “Madam! There is a traffic jam. To get to the next stop U need to wait for at least 2 hours” My head was swirling with anger and irritation. I was fuming and went back to my seat with heavy steps. I felt like a fool and had a strong urge to knock down a few giggling heads. Feeling irritated to the core I was seething with rage at the traffic jam that I DID NOT DESERVE…… To add salt to the wound, my mobile’s battery went low, so had to switch it off. Usually I carry 2 mobiles. So with some hope I took out the other one only to find it discharged completely. And at that time Murphy’s Law made its entry into my already sweltering head – “When something is destined to go wrong, it will…..”
And also “In situations where there cannot be a reversal, man needs to be more proactive than reactive and needs to keep a cool head to think.” But let me add –” It is always easy to advise people in their hour of misery becoz it requires no efforts and no tension but yes, it does add a pinch of salt to the recipient’s irritation.” I sat finally on my seat with a heavy heart dreading to think about the time time I would be reaching home at. The reason I felt bad was that I was going home for a day and from that one day also I screwed up the first half enjoying that ‘blissful’ sleep which now appeared iniquitous to me. My neighbor sensing my exasperation handed her mobile and told me that I could make a call from her mobile. I rang up my father and breathtakingly narrated him my sad story and at the completion of the incident I could hear a suppressed giggle. Well I couldn’t react the way I could. So as had till that time I managed to appear cool even then though I had transformed into an active volcano with the lava of anger brimming up. (Believe me folks – Acting is not an easy task!!!! God knows how the actors and actresses act what they are not!). Knowing that I had become a infuriated lioness, my father just advised me to keep my cool and asked me to get down at some roadside bus stop on the other side of the highway so that I could get a state bus back home. It appeared to give me a ray of hope but as the bus was moving at a snail’s pace and it was surrounded by vehicles that there was barely any space to get down….(Sigh!)
After an hour or so….I saw the traffic getting dispersed and I got down at a village, crossed the highway and waited for some bus. I did get one. It was a mini bus that was probably carrying more than it could actually accomodate. It looked like a poultry van to me where all the people looked like hens bundled up together in a single van. The conductor asked me if I needed a ride back home. The answer was palpable. In my mind I could hear myself talking to that conductor – “Do I have an option Dumb Head?????”
So I got huddled into that hell for a short time. As I got into that bus, I could feel a nose wrenching nausea encompassing me and I felt for a minute that I was going to swoon. The reeking surrounding constituted of poor, poorer and extremely poor people who had barely anything to protect from the callous cold and were huddling together. Seats were already occupied with laborers. I stood alone and probably stood out from all of them in all perspectives. I could already sense that I had become a centre of attraction for all of them and only later did I realize that they were looking up to me with respect. I felt calm and at the same time embarrassed. And I realized how lucky I was that I had what I needed. On the contrary I had more than what I could ask for. And these people had not even got that enough that could at least make their both ends meet…… In spite of poverty, these people were so happy, singing all the way to ease the discomforts of the journey. It is an irony that these people invariably are the richest and the happiest people on this earth becoz they are the people of their needs. They live as if this is their moment. They truly live in the present enjoying every trice of life. And in observing those people how the time flew…..(Sigh!) . At last I got down at my stop after full three hours and my father was waiting right at the stop with a smiling face. As I neared, he burst out laughing releasing that incarcerated giggle. I could hear my own voice amalgamating that ring of hilarity. I headed home and as usual my timid mother was waiting at the door step and got relaxed only after seeing her only child.
The incident was small but the learning was big. Life always teaches to live. We slack down many times succumbing to the circumstances so that circumstances can be put to blame but the learning I earned after that arduous journey was – “FIRST LEARN TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF”. My father had advised me that a zillion times but I appreciated the spirit of it only after that day.