One advantage of living in a metropolitan city is busses. It’s been merely three months I had joined an office that requires me to travel thirty kilometers round-trip no matter which route I take. But it’s been a little over two months since I discovered the most convenient one.
Three busses leave in the morning, between nine and ten, at regular intervals and at one point or the other, I’ve taken either of them. They have different bunch of people travelling. They are mostly mutually exclusive and have their own specific dynamic.
There’s a lady in her fifties on the nine-thirty bus, who wants the best seat on the bus. So half the time, she annoys all the other passengers and after she’s got a seat, she tries to be very polite but the other people detest her. So do I. She reminds me of my aunt who buys me presents but her intent always seems fabricated.
There’s one middle-aged guy on the nine-forty-five, who never talks but stands in one corner. I don’t know where he get’s off and neither do I see much change in his clothing.
There’s this man on the same one, in his late fifties with white hair and white french-beard which he had dyed with Henna which makes him look really hideous and smells of chewing tobacco. He’s always eager to talk to people and he knows who gets off where. But the only person who talks to him gets on in the next stop from his. I’ve noticed they have the same taste in stuff.
However, my favourite are two people. A middle-aged lady and a middle-aged man who, I shall address henceforth as “He” and “She.”
They occupy the same two seats every day, side by side like a pair of lobsters. At first, I assumed they were married but after sufficient eavesdropping, I deduced that they were married all right, but not to one another.
I know very well, of the way She looks at him, full of admiration. And I have noticed the way He tells her things, full of care. They often strongly remind me of two fourth graders in a school bus.
“I wish there was at least one air-conditioned bus in our route at this time of the day” a woman sitting opposite to them expressed one day, wiping the sweat off her forehead. “It gets unbearably hot!”
“Oh that’s even worse, you know. You are more likely to catch cold and headache.” one guy standing nearby cited as if a dignified authority on the subject.
She just made a dull nod acknowledging the statement which had no sign of interest.
“But that can be avoided.” He started talking, and She promptly focussed her attention towards him as if he spoke of the dreams and fantasies she had always wanted to lose herself in, “when you get down the bus, you just have to hold your breath for a while. Then you won’t catch cold.” He finished and looked at her. She conjured an exquisite smirk directed towards him, the kind you impart when you are fifteen or sixteen and in love for the first time.
I don’t know where they get off everyday, I don’t know whether they work in the same office, and even though, I could catch the early bus and arrive office a little in advance, I choose to wait for this one knowing that they will be there.
I wonder sometimes, if I’d be taking the same bus the day either of them are going to retire, whether they’d be keeping in touch. Probably they will. Will I be able to tell if it was their last day boarding the bus? Or one day, they’d simply stop coming and be lost in space like a pair of asteroids tossed out of orbit. Do they ever speculate on this possibility like I do? Or they are just drinking on the moments they’ve got right now, and longing to meet each other everyday.
All the complaining passengers, dragging their miserable lives day in and day out yet boarding the same busses, do not realise that they become part of these minuscule stories everyday. On trains and busses and taxies and offices. And then there are certain ones who are lucky enough to have alluring stories which are like soap bubbles against the sunlight. Momentary, short-lived, yet uplifting.
People often overlook. Doesn’t the real essence of life lie in the overlooked? You simply catch yours and hang on to it. This one is mine to cling to, for as long as it shall last.