[Issue 10 / August 2014]
When a bus rolls down the road, you shudder. And when a mass of curly hair and mutually interactive tits swing past, it’s time to pay attention.
Back to the bus, though. As this one pulled to a stop, horn blaring in announcement so as to scatter the roaches of daily existence back into the piles of dog shit they work so hard to avoid (in the process putting themselves in harm’s way viz., bus-path*) the doors stayed shut, keeping all the ethnic, religious and sexual diversity seething in collective sweat within, and the reek of bad breath remained a well-guarded secret.
“Excuse me, Mr. Driverman, could you open this door for an old woman, that she may step out of one country into another, and journey two steps west into four walls that protect her dignity and physical bearing from the dust and the spit and the shit and the wildlife that test her fortune along the long and arduous road from the bus-stop thereto, and dignify the name of this red glow in the name of charity, you with the power to get me home with a flick of a finger?”
“Fuck off. It’s against the rules.”
The bus took a fucking left from the goddamned traffic light, and ran over a bunch of people including your whore of a mother as it bashed sideways into the bus stop a kilometer ahead. Bones crunched and blood splashed onto the pavement from underneath its wheels. By this time, the door was open narrow enough for the old hag (our damsel in distress) to squeeze herself out and do two back-flips so she could safely land on her face; after which she hunched on all fours, acting as a make-shift platform for the fat, psychopathic women in queue to step on as their hired trumpeters played them a song of welcome.
She wiped the blood-mud emulsion off her face, after which she began the 0.621371 mile walk back home which, a minute ago, was merely a footfall away. Along the way, the following befell her.
- She tripped against a rock, cracking a toenail.
- As she tripped on the aforementioned rock, she bumped into a man in front, who turned around and spat on her face.
- She stepped into shit, which caked on her slipper and made walking all the more difficult.
- She was bitten by a dog for no reason whatsoever.
- She was raped.
She took thirty minutes to get home, by which time it was profoundly felt that life simply ebbs away.
Three months later, a cold August morning; three hours later, a blazing August high noon.
Amid the clean, sterile smell, what which burns away the hair in one’s nostrils if breathed in strongly enough, yet protects the spirit from breaking for the reek emanating from abdominal gashes so calculatedly inflicted upon the invalid, sit.
“If you can’t pay your bills, you’ll have to shift the man out.”
“Please.” (One of the two little words with which you open the door with ease, the other being thanks).
A nurse can make even the most basic chivalry seem old fashioned; this one was prefixed ‘sister.’ First adopted by a trashcan, then a convent wherein she underwent nose training**. They hire chicks like this to pull children into the world (or saw ‘em out), almost like a cruel irony; “Welcome to earth, this isn’t the last you’ll see of me; This sexually deprived one you’ll see on your way out as well, and several times in the interim, I shall be the benchmark by which the troughs in your life are gauged.”
“What do you mean please? This hospital doesn’t do charity.”
“The sign outside says ‘Hope Charity Hospital.’”
“Holy crap, you can read? I’d never have known from all that grease on those rags you wear. What the fuck do you do for a living anyway?”
She needs a man, he thinks. “Drive a bus.”
“Tell you what. Get a length of rope, and tie the decrepit old makeweight across the front of your truck. Should keep him warm until he cops it at least.”
“He’d probably need a couple of days here to get better. Can’t you accommodate a poor old man for the sake of his blue-collared son and family? I can pay the dues as soon as I have cash at hand.”
“I’m sorry. It’s against the rules.”
And the man carried home his dying father who spewed his guts out onto his son on the way, amid spluttered cries for mercy, and the boy, a grim haze cast on his face, had not learned his lesson. A half hour later, the old one choked on his own vomit and simply HAD to lay down on the floor and die.
The hole was dug and the body lowered, the rites were read and prayers said. As his daughters sang funeral dirges for the soul of the deceased, the bus-driver did not think, but stared, straight into the distance, the intolerant attitude of apathy and self-righteousness too deeply ingrained into the very fabric of his existence to glean any moral from his story, which is:
Some rules are meant to be broken.
*The trajectory of a large, four-wheeled vessel that bears passengers, measured from the point at which its wheels leave the surface of a speed-bump.
**A type of education imparted to members of certain convent institutions, which dictates that the tip of one’s nose be raised to the highest point permissible by the extent of the neck, thereby conveying a sense of superiority to anyone who bothers laying eyes upon a drab, covered-up, barren destitute. Said to build character.
Siddharth Shenvi, age 24, lives in Bangalore and works in IT consulting. He loves to read, write and review.