Monday, February 27, 2006
This happened a few months before. I was traveling along with my friends in a city bus. Our destination was E Square where the Pune International Film Festival was going on. We had booked through the Net and still had some registration formalities left. The shows started at 9:00 in the morning and we did not want to miss anything. We had started sufficiently early and were lucky enough to get a bus that started from our Point, with lots of seats. The journey was like any other Indian bus journey. The bus rattled on making noises as though it was coughing. Maybe it was complaining, for having being put to ride in that cold winter morning.
Soon the bus got crowded. The seats we were sitting on got fortified by commuters. And guarded by alert eyes whose owners were impatiently waiting for us to get down. The journey continued. Many boarded and many got down. One of the replacements that came for a disembarked block of my seat’s fortification was an old man. However he differed a lot.He was frail and possessed a quite dignity in his face.His eyes did not pry for our seats.He had a file in his hands and was wearing an old pair of pants and a sweater over his shirt.He wore spectacles that gave a glow to his eyes,eyes that had seen a lifetime Where is he going? What does the file contain?Is he fighting some old case? A million questions flew through my mind. . He stood there. Anchoring himself to the seat bars and swaying with every sway of the bus.
I got up and offered him my seat. But he surprised me and perhaps all those around us by declining the offer.
“Young man, you sit, you have a long way to go in life”
Was he making fun of me?
“We have to learn to face difficult situations, we should not take the youth for granted, being old doesn’t mean that you should always invite sympathy and help. I am old, but I am strong too, I have enough strength in me to me to hold myself up and perhaps more.” He spoke in perfect English.
I sat on my seat. Uncomfortable though.
Later when another passenger got down the old man took his seat. He still had the same dignity and peace in his eyes.
My stop came and I had to get down, I looked at him, hoping that he ill return it. But he was looking far outside…
We see all kinds of people in life.
We are a country that refuses to stand on queues, that’s rushes into buses and trains, people who don’t mind not taking railway and platform tickets, people who spit on the roads and treats public space as trash bin, Men who unapologetically sit on ladies seat and kids who don’t wait for the old.
And then there are people like him.