Buses, don’t you just hate them? I was standing at the bus stop hoping some savior would pass by and offer me a lift till school.
No such luck, I could see my bus rumbling towards me, overflowing with people. The dreaded 126W. I shuddered as I thought of the journey that lay ahead of me.
It was a one hour ride from my stop to school and I hardly ever got place to sit. And today, I was carrying extra baggage. We had selections for the school athletics team and I was aspiring to be a part of it.
I shook my head as I saw the number of people lining up to get inside. It was very possible that I would be travelling on the footboard today.
As soon as the bus stopped, piles of people crowded around the solitary door trying to push their way past other people. Being skinny and lithe, I pushed and shoved until I got inside.
“Pass.” I told the conductor cum driver as I entered the bus, referring to my bus pass. He nodded me inside without bothering to check it.
I gingerly made my way inside, stepping on many a toes and feet.
“Oops! Sorry! Excuse me!” I was trying to find a comfortable place to stand. Somewhere, where my face wouldn’t be in someone else’s armpit and my hand across someone’s face and then I saw him.
I looked around carefully.
Why hadn’t anyone else noticed it? I moved towards him slowly, trying not to attract too much attention.
He was sitting near the window, calmly looking out. He must have been a couple of years older than me, a college student perhaps. The satchel bag that was slung diagonally across his shoulders seemed to imply that.
I cleared my throat, “Excuse me?”
He turned to look at me, surprised to see that I was addressing him.
“Me?” he asked.
“Yes, ladies seat!” I said triumphantly pointing at the symbol drawn on top of the window.
He smiled and got up slowly and sort of hobbled across the lady sitting next to him to come out.
Feeling ever so proud of myself, I made my way inside and sat down.
“Can you pass me my cane please?”
“It’s right there, next to the window.” He said pointing at the window.
Indeed, it was a cane. I had just asked a physically challenged person to give up his place for me.
I gulped, picked up the cane and stood up to pass it back to him. He took it from my hand.
God! I felt awful!
“Look, I’m sorry, I didn’t know. You can sit if you like.” The words gushing out of my mouth before I could stop them.
He laughed a little, “Relax, it’s okay..” he paused to read the name off the name tag I was wearing on my uniform. “Naina.. I get off here.” He said as the bus approached the prestigious St. Peters College.
With a quick wink, he moved away from the seat and towards the door.
“And Naina?” he called out as he limped down the stairs. “You’ll make the team. Best of luck.”
I stared after him, long after he had disappeared from view, flabbergasted. How did he know?