The Jam-Packed Bus 

Chaitanyamoi Chetia

© Copyright 2023 by 
Chaitanyamoi Chetia

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It was 1:00 pm; I had not taken anything till then except a cup of tea and a piece of cake in a roadside shop. I trudged through the market to a shop to call at the owner there; I waited for many minutes in front of the shop; the steel fabricated shutter of the shop was open, but the entrance door of the shop was closed for the lunch break. The shop was fitted with transparent glasses in the front, the door was locked: in the handle of the door was hung a card written - “Lunch Break From 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM”.

I sauntered here and there in the market and spent an hour there gazing at the shop that was closed, and to other shops that were open where people had been coming and purchasing things.

I shall have to return home soon, why the owner of the shop has not come!” I wondered curiously, gazing at the closed door, at the card hung on the handle and at the window panes.

I rambled there, sometimes to the fruit stalls and sometimes to the mobile handset repairing centres; and afterwards again to the shop to glance at whether the glass fixed door had opened or not. There was a pharmacy shop at the corner of the market; a well combed man in elegant dress was staring outside; at first I observed him and strolled away; as the door of the shop was still closed, I asked the pharmacist whether he knew that the transparent glass fitted shop would open or not. I also told him that a card was hung on the handle of the door, and in the card was written - “Lunch Break FROM 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM.” I chortled with the pharmacist that it was 3:00 PM by my wrist watch and the owner of the shop had not arrived till now.

I had one small deal with him and so I was waiting for the owner of the shop to come. “It will open,” the pharmacist said.

I stood silently near the transparent glass of the shop; I was also worried that I would have to travel many kilometres to reach home, so I thought it would be better for me to desert the place. I raised my neck and observed the glass and saw the mobile number of the shop written on the glass; I saved the mobile number of the shop in my smart phone and marched out of the market in despair.

While rushing to the bus stand I made up my mind that in my next visit to the shop I should try my best arrive at the market a little earlier before the lunch break of the owner.

The street was busy with fruit stalls and tea stalls, and the tea stalls were also selling mineral water bottles; I thought of purchasing a water bottle as it would be necessary for me on the way, and I would have to travel a long distance. Again I thought the other way round, as coming next time would mean remitting bus fair again.

It will be better for me to wait for the shop owner, after discussing with him I should leave,” I thought.

On the way in the street I stood at a corner, took out my mobile phone and made a call to the number which I had saved; the owner received my call and answered readily.

I have arrived, you can come if you wish,” he said. I felt comfort at his answer and was relaxed, and again headed towards his shop.

I saw the entrance door was open and the card displaying the lunch break as well as time in the handle of the door was eliminated.

He smiled and we talked for a few minutes; after our discussion was over, I left for the bus stand. As I plodded on the footpath I saw many pedestrians assembling near the stalls and purchasing mineral water bottles; I also thought of purchasing it, but I changed my mind with the notion that after arriving home I would drink water. One bus passed by at that time packed with passengers; that bus slowed it’s acceleration and paused near me, but I avoided that bus for there was no empty seat there, and if I happened to board that bus I would have to reach home standing on foot. After sometime, another bus was ready to depart; I went into the bus and I was lucky that there were only six passengers then taking their seats in the bus; and the rest of the seats were empty. I took my seat in the front near the window corner; the bus was clean inside and the window panes were transparent. This time I became thirsty; but I did not give much importance to purchasing a mineral water bottle to quench my thirst. It was an hour journey to reach home, so I thought I should not give much importance to purchasing a bottle now.

One by one, in a short period of time, the passengers occupied all the seats of the bus; I craned my neck and saw that the bus was packed; but the bus did not move; the passengers were irritated and so was I. I had seen through the window panes and through the windshield of the bus that till then a few buses had crossed. This bus was waiting idle for many minutes even after the bus was jam-packed, and such things made me bewildered; I thought I did an error by boarding this bus because even after the passengers were packed, the bus did not move.

Why don’t you move,” one passenger from the rear seat shouted at the top of his voice.

The conductor of the bus was shouting to every pedestrian that seats were available, and if anyone wanted to have their journey they could get inside.

There is a seat available in the rear side, come on in,” he said to a man. The man entered the bus with a bag in his arm; he could not find a seat, and became annoyed.

Where is the seat!” the man said with the bag in his arm.

I also became furious at the act of the conductor; I scolded the conductor in a heart broken voice which was heard by everyone in the bus. My voice made everyone silent; this time the bus started to move on. I was angry and scolded the conductor for inviting so many passengers to get inside; the bus was crowded, there was no space left to keep the passengers’ feet properly; standing passengers could not grip hold the steel pipe that lay on the ceiling of the bus properly; the elbows of standing passengers’ hands touched the heads and hairs of the passengers taking their seat. This time the bus moved on, and all the passengers were relieved as the bus took its acceleration.

Slowly, on the way, in every bus stop, passengers alighted from the bus, and the stuffed bus became almost empty. I moved my eyes to the bus and saw only six passengers remained to alight from the bus; I learnt that the remaining passengers as well as my destination was the same.

This time I became so much thirsty that I wanted to get down from the bus to get a mineral water bottle to drink. I told the conductor that in the next stoppage he would have to purchase a mineral water bottle for me as I was very thirsty. In the next stoppage as the bus stopped, I saw a few shops selling vegetables and fruits and mineral water bottles; the halogen bulbs were glowing, and the houses near by were lighted, the sky became dark; and I could see the glow of the lights in the houses and shops and in the street. “The bus stopped in a good place where everything could be purchased,” I wondered looking through the window panes.

I gave a 50 rupees denomination to fetch me a water bottle to the conductor whom I rebuked in the bus stand. He took the money and sprinted to purchase one bottle and gave me the bottle as well as the money. If he had not helped me, I would have to suffer that evening in a bad way. I became very kind to him, and I felt like I got a new life after I got the water bottle. I immediately opened the sealed bottle and drank the complete bottle of water, and I felt like I got energy in my body.

After some time, out of happiness I gave him a small amount of rupees as a compliment, but he would not receive it. I again shook his elbow and asked him to keep the bank note, but he did not accept it. I felt since I reprimanded the conductor because he was asking the people to get inside the crowded bus, he was annoyed with me. I repented for it; later I learnt it was the duty of the conductors to pack the bus with passengers even if the bus was jam-packed. That day, he won my heart; I never learnt that a small act of kindness would make me remember the event forever. I lost my temper and rebuked him in the bus, but that day he helped me; he went out to fetch a water bottle. His wonderful act made me feel warmth that he accomplished my need quickly, and this enhanced my relationship with him. He made me rapturous without any compensation; his true act created a lasting friendship which cultivated onto me a feeling of vivacity and mirth.

Contact Chaitanyamoi
(Unless you type the author's name
in the subject line of the message
we won't know where to send it.)

Chaitanyamoi's story list and biography

Book Case

Home Page

The Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher