On a rainy day, which would have been passed and disappeared from the pages of my life’s diary like the others if I hadn’t witnessed the heroics of that man.
I, along with others, had taken shelter under the shed built at the bus stop while the rain drops were hitting hard at the roof of the shed producing a familiar sound which I couldn’t figure out even after a lot of brainstorming.
I didn’t have to wait for long as within next five minutes, a DTC bus halted at the bus stand, crowded with people of different makes and moods who would be waiting for their vehicle of choice to take them to their desired destinations.
Taking the rain head-on, I hurried towards the entrance of the bus with some other anxious folks who ran towards the bus as the soldiers swinging their swords attack the opposition in our mythological serials. Finally, being able to win the war, I mean board the bus, I found myself in the middle of the bus where I was surrounded and suppressed by some strangers who, like me, were struggling to secure some space to land their feet firm on floor. My clothes were completely drenched and so did the others’. A drop of water oozed from my hair and fell on the nose. A peculiar smell, formed probably with the blend of sweat and water filled my nostrils.
‘Oh God! When would my destination come’? I murmured.
Oh…I forgot to tell you about the man…the hero of my story!
During my fit of finding a fit in the bus, I’d noticed a head, hanging out of the window of the bus. With signs of age oozing out of his time-warped wrinkled face, he was shouting at the people standing at the bus stand.
“Sit down…Sit down…Can’t you hear…you morons”, he sounded like a madman in first meeting.
Automatic doors closed with a loud sound. Wheels rolled and the bus was set to motion as the driver relieved the breaks.
“Driver sahib, stop the bus at bus stand only. There is a fine of Rs. 500. You know no?” the madman spoke again as a lady requested the driver to stop the bus at the traffic signal, burning red.
His latest words of wisdom made me take a notice of him. He was around 5 feet wearing an old dirty worn-out uniform of a home guard.
Let me help you if you don’t know about a home guard. A home guard is a volunteer from civil society such as professionals, college students and industrial workers etc who work in their spare time for the well being of the community though there are full time home guards also who take home a daily remuneration of around Rs. 328.
Coming back on our madman, he donned a round khaki cap that sported ‘Triservices Crest’ and was wearing a worn-out ID card that had his passport size photo, probably of younger age as evident from the lack of wrinkles. Stapled at his chest pocket of the shirt was an ID card that reflected a name, Budhiya Bis…(the remaining part of his surname had vanished probably because of the action of time.)
“There are traffic jams in Delhi at every 100 steps and when it rains situation gets worst” he broke the trail of my thoughts.
“See, how bad this traffic jam is and still nobody is here to clear it. Where the hell are the traffic personnel? Accha, the rats would be escaping from rain. Kya hoga is desh ka? Driver sahib jara darwaja khol denge. I try to clear it. It’s my responsibility. I’ve pledged to work for the community.”
Abe pagle buddhe baith ja. Kahan barish men marne ja rha hai! (Sit down old madman. Where the hell are you going?) Somebody from the crowd mocked and rest followed with a laughter which he seemed to ignore.
He was soon in the middle of the downpour that have turned heavy now, and the mess created by cars, buses and bikes that in an attempt to slip through had choked every possible way to get the traffic going.
Was it because of his uniform or the ‘Triservices Crest’ badge on his cap or the prowess he was handing the vehicles with, I don’t know? But traffic that was transfixed a couple of minutes before, had started to shift.
I saw him standing completed drenched in the middle of crossroad under the post built for the traffic police personnel. Undeterred by the heavy rain and thunder, his hands were moving like skilled white-uniformed personnel. He signaled the traffic from the front to hold on and instructed the vehicles on his left to pass.
The people who were involved in a mockery were now witnessing him with respect. He’d already won several hearts with his commitment towards the duty he’d left several years ago.
The traffic was soon under control. Two traffic policemen had also reached the spot, probably they’d got the information of the mess at traffic signal, albeit, our madman-turned-master had handled things with his deftness by then.
After finishing his job and handling it to whomsoever it should be concerned, he jumped off the post sporting a smile of pride and headed towards the bus he belonged to. Water was drooling over his face but his eyes were bright with the sense of accomplishment that he’d waited for throughout his life. His feet were brisk and bumpy, probably due to the excitement.
He crossed the road, climbed the road divider and almost floating in air, ran towards the bus which is about to leave its mark as there were just 10 seconds left for the red light to turn green.
He was approaching the bus. He could the see the driver sporting a smile which is different from the last one. He smiled back. Eyes beamed with pride. He was anxious to board bus where people would appreciate him for his adeptness…praise him for his prowess. His heart was flying with a sense of liberation.
OH SH*T… This couldn’t happen.
While he was on his joyride, he ignored an elevated stone on the divider. His off-balance legs landed him on the road on the other side…the one with traffic running on it where a speeding bus ran over him.
While his senses were eager to resign and his soul was packing up for another journey, he could see the people thanking him for his efforts. He could see the admiration in the eyes of people. People were applauding for him. He was never as happy as he was today.
His body was lying motionless in his own pool of blood. He was no more. But what still stayed was the SMILE on his face…the smile of accomplishment. By the time death occurred to him, he’d lived his life to the fullest.
The rain had stopped. The sun had come out of the clouds. It was all bright. It felt as if God has sent His angels to escort the divine soul to heaven.
Finally, he got the liberation…liberation from life…but what a grand liberation!