Saturday, July 7, 2007


You are the man who offered me his seat the first day I got onto the bus.

I don't know whether it is a strange sympathy for a schoolgirl taking the public bus - I see the mute, fatherly pity in your eyes, and I wonder how to tell you that I do it out of a strange adolescent desire to assert my independence, not out of compulsion. I wonder how to tell you that my school bag is not the biggest trial in my life. I don't quite know how, so I mumble a word of thanks and sink gratefully into my seat.

Unwittingly, you have given me a moment. A moment that allows me to forget the boredom of the forty minutes I spend in that bus, fighting a wave of perspiration and clutched briefcases. You have given me a compulsive belief that someday I will chance upon you again when I am older, and offer you my seat to return that favour on that first uncertain day.

I do not forget faces.

I invent a game. I observe all the people climbing into this metal contraption, and I study their faces. I look for the nuances of features and bone structure, note the interweaving of brows and lashes and nostrils and teeth. I give them names. I weave stories about them and recount their histories - fabricate tragedies and romances, workplace problems and marital spats. And sometimes, I forget to get off at my stop.

Now you are in a sari, defensive and gruff, elbowing your way through the mass of travellers hanging onto the railing. Now you are in a worn kurta, fanning yourself with a newspaper. Now, you flick your bunch of tickets at me, indicating that I should respond with my jingle-jangle bits of change. Now, you are every other person looking towards the door, waiting to get off.

And the journey seems over so soon, but it is different everyday. The only constancy being that I still have not run into you.

9 kindred spirits have swallowed my rambling:

Full stop. said...

Jodhpur Park-BBD Bag zindabad.

new age scheherazade said...

so chivalry lives.
and hopefully, some other schoolgirl on some other bus will get up for him some other day.

Bryan Miller said...

Man, you really are good, I dunno how something that lame can be inspiring, yet in some way it is....

raghu said...

hahah..i guess one of those dumb ppl who just do nothin in a bus teally.. just keep staring at random objects..n smellin ppl armpits(sometimes intentionally) and then i also peek into a everyones bags :P
waise we believe in winnin over women by giving them seats to sit..isnt it a sacrifice u shud be happy with?
aww ur leo.. hahaha

Priyanka Kumar said...

@ full stop - you understand. bless you

@newage - no matter how liberated we may be, i guess we'll always like chivalry. or kid ourselves into believing something as simple as that could be chivalry.

@bryan (!): change your darn display name, i'm laughing too hard

@raghu: yes, i'm leo, which means i do appreciate some things about men. they are a wonderful species if you take away about a million faults. but if you smell people's armpits on purpose, you need help =]

speedpost said...

Ahhh... where have the good men gone???
Ans: Serbia or better still Mexico.. can u imagine a hot man on a bus in Serbia(Djokovic Djokovic.... )

Rajarshi said...

am i the only one who thinks this person's a little creepy??? but well-written anyway!!!

Priyanka Kumar said...

@ annesha: curb your enthusiasm. i'm dying too.

@ rajarshi: well, yes, most men on buses are creepy. very creepy. especially the middle-aged types. but this guy was a normal call-centre type with glasses. of course, he may be a terrorist or a necrophile or a pink-wearer, but he didn't bother me (relieved look) - so why not write about him? school's sapping my creativity now anyway.

Priyanka Kumar said...

unless of course, by "this person" you meant me.