The silent cry of buses

Have you ever heard of the word “bandh“?  Bandh is originally a Hindi word meaning ‘closed’. In India, even school going first-standard kids know the word ‘bandh‘ and it is synonymous to a holiday for them. When people want to organize a public protest in India for any reason, we call it ‘bandh‘ and make sure all businesses, schools and other offices are closed on that day except hospitals. But when doctors go on strike, even hospitals also seem to be closed.

But wait, more often than not, these protests are not peaceful as they are supposed to be. It is not simply a matter of closing few buildings and making sure nothing of productive value happens on that day. Vandalizing public property is an almost unavoidable and unfortunate thing and we – common people – have almost come to a situation where it seems to be a normal act unless we ourselves are the victims of the attack.

Coming to the core of the topic, every time a group calls for a bandh, there is a common victim – the innocent bus which can neither speak nor escape when the driver is off the board.

So, in this oddly written article, I am doing the talking for a bus in an imaginary situation on a day when ‘bandh‘ is called by some imaginary group which I do not want to give a name. I hope it will be funny, serious, thought provoking, may be boring… oh… wait… you can just read on I guess…

***

“Driver,” the Bus shouted, “there seems to be a mob coming towards us with a handful of stones and other stuff, please save me. There seems to be a bandh today.”

The helpless driver yelled back at the bus in a voice that is gripped with nothing but fear, “come on… what loss can it cause you…  if your windows are broken, you will get them replaced with new windows at the expense of the government and you should be happy in that way. But in the process of saving you, if I am hurt, no one cares for me. You do not have a family like me who depend on me for a daily living. Let them beat you, anyway you don’t feel any pain. I am going to stop here and get down now. That is the only way to save me and the people inside you.”

Driver was the only hope for the Bus from escaping the thrashing that was soon going destroy or who knows may be burn the bus to ashes.

“Please take the turn here,” the Bus requested the driver in a hope to save itself if the driver takes the turn. But the people in the bus shouted that they will be going late if the driver takes that turn. For a moment, the bus forgot about the mob and laughed at the foolishness of the people it was carrying who were still thinking that the mob is not going to attack.

“Driver…” the bus said in pain and with a deep desire to explain its past attacks, “this is not the first time I am experiencing such a helpless situation. Last month, when the opposition party protested against the ruling party’s policies which are slowing down the growth of India, I was attacked. When I was very new and fresh out of the factory, only after a few days on the road, I was attacked by a mob who was protesting for some issue I could not understand. When the mob was about to set me on  fire, fortunately a police jeep came near by with its siren and the mob left me alone even though they had beaten me to death.”

“Bus…” the driver shouted in a hurried voice, ” neither am I interested in listening your past nor am I a fool to talk to you when they are all set to attack you and me if I stay in my seat. I am going to jump and runaway.”

Driver looked through the broken net of his seat’s backrest and found that all the passengers have already left including the conductor. He also jumped out of the driver’s window and moved few hundred meters away from the bus.

Driver had heard the stories of his fellow workers who were attacked by the mobs when those drivers protested not to cause any damage to the bus. So, he never wanted to risk his life and went to a safe place and watched the scene with fear and hope that they will not cause any damage to him. Of course, nothing was wrong from his side, he has a whole family which solely depends on him for survival. And he knew neither he had the power nor the strength to fight the mob.

The bus was alone after all passengers and driver left and wondered if only it can start itself and runaway. Bus thought that man is more afraid not to give too much power to the machines, not in the real world at least, but only in movies where machines are more capable than man. God knows how people went crazy about such movies.

By then, the bus realized that the  mob came so close and were about to hit the glass windows. Somehow, the windows are more vulnerable and people like to destroy them first. May be its the sound of crackling them that tempts the attacker or may  be they find it easy to break the glass than any other parts of the bus.

The bus wanted to get into a conversation with the mob and requested them to listen to what it has to say for few minutes. The leader of the mob, who looked to be in his mid thirties with a flag in his hand, agreed and asked all his followers not to cause any damage till he commands.

“Sir…” the bus said the leader in a hope to save itself,  “I do not know your name nor do I know to which political party you belong. I do not know what for you are protesting. All I want to ask is, in what way is destroying me going to help you achieve what you want to with this protest? It is my sincere question as I am not as intelligent as you human beings who created me in the first place.”

“Listen,” the leader said to the bus. “it’s been happening from the time the buses were made by us. What rights have you got to ask such a stupid question. Anyway as you have asked, let me give you my answer quickly as we do not have enough time to waste. We destroy you to show the power we possess and to let the people know we are united for our cause, come what may”.

“Leader,” the bus said in a voice that is sure going to irritate the mob, “if power is what you want to show, don’t you find any intelligent way other than destroying me? If you want to show how united you are for your cause, I am sure you human beings are clever enough to show the unity in many more meaningful ways than through this unthoughtful act which in no way helps anyone.”

“I am helpless Bus, I am helpless. I have been ordered to destroy at least a specific number of buses today. I cannot do anything but listen to my seniors who called for this bandh in the first place. I do not understand why you are so worried as we are not going to set you ablaze this time. That way you are lucky. We are just going to break your windows, head-lights and few other stuff which the government will replace in due time as the elections are near by. It’s good for you actually. The windows are looking old anyway. Don’t you think we are actually helping you? I really pity you.” The leader said as if he had some concern for the poor and inanimate bus which stood helplessly in front of the mob who were very impatient to wait anymore.

“I am not worried about myself. I am worried because you are wasting the public money which they have paid as tax to the government and actually buying tickets to travel. That is what I am worried about. What right have you to destroy the public property?”  Bus asked slowly assuming a dominating voice.

“I never knew buses know about tax and other stuff.” The leader said rather sarcastically. “From where did you learn all this stuff?”

“That is very simple, I know one thing you human beings find it so difficult. I know how to listen to others without talking much. Everyday, I learn a lot of stuff from the people who sit in my seats and talk about everything under the Sun. The new FM radio that is installed inside me is helping a lot. These days people seldom talk to each other in the bus as they are always busy on their mobile phones.”  Bus said in a voice that seems to dominate the leader. And regretted letting the mob know about the FM radio fearing they would destroy that too.

What the bus did not realize was, it is difficult to convince a group of fools with no brains.

By now, the leader got irritated to a point where he could not tolerate the dominance of the Bus and ordered the mob to thrash it. With in few seconds, there were sounds of crackling and smashing.

The bus silently witnessed itself being destroyed, so did the driver from a safer distance.

After the mob had left the place, the driver came near the bus.

“I am sorry. Next time… I am going to save you no matter what it takes,” the driver said apologetically and started the bus and left for the depot.

***

We have become so habituated to witnessing such scenes of violence on bandhs. Nobody ever questions, at least in public. The country which had fought silently for the freedom without much violence, now seems off the track. Public protests with violent actions have become anything but common.

But, there is hope, that people will realize someday and act more meaningfully.

I hope you liked the article. Would be happy if you share your thoughts using the comments section.

This entry was posted in: IndiaBookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. Vidya Sagar
    Posted August 8, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Very intersting article…really no one knows when these kind of people realize that we are destroying our own property.

Share your thoughts

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*