"बसौँ ! बसौँ ! (Get on! Get on!)" The usual harsh tone of the खलासी (Khalaasi - the bus conductor).
I looked inside the vehicle. The seats were already full, but there was enough space to stand comfortably. So, I got up, headed straight to the space just behind the driver's seat. There used to be a row of seats facing the direction opposite to that of the vehicle. But all of the microbuses have removed them as per the new rule. Is there a dustbin? I searched for one. They need to keep one as well, according to another new rule. But there was none. Never a matter for me as I always keep my trash in my bag.
When the microbus reached the main stand, more people started pouring into the vehicle, making it difficult not only to the people standing, but for the ones on the seats as well. “What more do you expect in a suburban-to-urban local transport, Akash?” The words echoed in my mind.
Should I turn this way? Or that way? Ughh! Any way is okay coz no way is comfortable. And it is extra difficult when a young lady is standing beside you because a simple inevitable push or tumble and you’ll turn into a pervert in her thoughts. So, “be careful, Akash!”
But, standing, in a way, is advantageous for me. When you stand in a microbus, you can’t see out of the vehicle unless you bend your body to such an extent that any person right behind you gets irritated because you would then be pointing your butt towards that person. Well, it’s advantageous for me because that way, I wouldn’t be able to feel the speed of the vehicle. Yes, I fear speed; not to the extent that I should call it a phobia, but I fear nonetheless. In city areas, it wouldn’t be a problem because you can’t speed up there due to traffic anyway. But inside Tribhuwan University, where the bus is running right now, the drivers speed up too much. And that always is a problem for me. Well, right now, not so much of a problem.
More than half of the passengers got off at Balkhu. And now, my chance to have a seat. Three persons for the seat of two? Not a problem for the Khalasi, not to the driver too. Heck, even we passengers have also adapted! So, without complaining, without any hesitation, ‘दाई अलि उता सर्दिनुस् न ।’ (Dai, would you mind moving a bit?)
When I’m at the corner, beside the window, I try as much possible as to squeeze myself towards the wall so as to allow the person sitting beside me to move. Sometimes, it feels as though the person sitting next to me takes me as a piece of lemon; trying to squeeze me to take all the juice out of me; especially if it is a middle aged heavyweight man. Sometimes, it feels as though the person sitting on the edge might be taking me as a selfish bastard. So, adjusting is the only option.
But today, it’s my turn to be on the edge. I looked at the space they were providing me. Well …
‘अलि उता सर्दिनुस् न ।’ I asked as though I never wanted the space.
A light movement by the person to say, “Yeah, I’ve moved. Now rest your a** in how-much-ever space I provided you.”
I looked at the space again. ‘Well, your day, Akash. Your day!’ I hope my butt could adjust. Nope. I tried to adjust pushing the person next to me, gently. He showed he cared; I don’t think he did.
“Could you please move your fat *ss a bit?” My anger grew inside my head; not through my mouth, though.
The person sitting beside me had his arms folded, as if he’s on his living-room couch. He had his legs spread, as if he’s waiting for his servant to bring him a cup of coffee. He was indifferent that I was having a hard time adjusting my butt. He definitely knew I wasn’t comfortable. The person besides the window on the same bench was in similar posture. As an utterly irritated outspoken middle aged woman rebuked a person in a similar posture some time ago in a microbus I rode on, “ससुराली आउनुभा’ हो र तेसरी गमक्क बस्नलाई ?” (Is this your in-laws’ house that you’re seated like that?)
“दाई, खुट्टा सिधा पार्नु न ।” The same rough tone of Khalasi.
“Can’t you see, I can’t even rest my butt comfortably?” I wanted to shout. But, a bit of movement would work; it always does.
The bus took a turn, a rather sharp one. Oops! I nearly fell. Would it be better that I stood up and gave up the pathetic ‘seat’? Well, what would other people think? Let it be. I’m okay … I guess … though I’m clearly not!
“Move your fat *ss, dumbf* ck!” Yeah, he can’t hear the echoes of my thought and anger inside my head,obviously. What was I thinking? He definitely knew I wasn’t comfortable. Adjusting is the only option, as always.
The bus reached Kuleshwor. No, it didn’t stop. What stopped was all of my emotions. One seemingly small act of the person sitting beside me made me stop thinking about him. Upon reaching Ganeshthan temple, he gestured to ‘pray’ the ‘god’. Well … Not a word to say now.
(Writer blogs at www.hamropaalo.blogspot.com)
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