|The Little Traveler|
The bus that drops me and my colleagues at our office, every morning, is a “Chinese Bus” (as people prefer to call it). It has a few seats and a huge empty space to accommodate several standing passengers. We hardly get to sit. I tell my friends jokingly that if we are to get the seats in the Chinese Bus, we have to have accumulated merit for hundreds of lives.
Unlike every morning, yesterday’s was unusually packed with all Motithang and Jigme Namgyal School students buzzing in. I was dangling helplessly from one of the hangers above my head with my lunch box squeezed under my arm pit. The passengers getting in pushed me to the front while the ones at the front stood immovable like a boulder. I was sandwiched. I feared my curry container would open and splash chilies across the eyes of fellow passengers. I had to catch hold of it firmly. While I held my curry pot with my left hand, I did not let my right hand out of the bus’ hanger. I had to balance my body on one hand with all the strengths I had reserved.
There was not a space to breathe. Tall and fat people surrounded me and I had to pull my head out for air like a giraffe for the leaves on tall trees. I could not bend down. And there was no way do it with all compactly packed.
Travelling for some time, I felt something moving by my leg. Feeling down the body, I sensed something hanging from my left leg. For one time, I thought some people must be sitting. But there was no possibility of people sitting. There was no space to insert one’s legs too. I took my hand down slowly to feel what is hanging from me. I touched “hair”. What an awkward! I immediately pulled my hand up. The bus reached a U-turn and there was a grip on my leg. ‘Someone was surely pulling my stockings down,’ I thought. I could not withstand. I pushed the man beside me a little afar, projected my buttock back and bent down to see the hairy daylight beast. What a shock. It was a small girl standing suffocated, supporting on my leg.
I did not know where she was heading and what job she had. She was carrying a bag at her back and a lunch box (perhaps) in her right hand. In her left hand was Nu.10, probably to contribute for the bus conductor’s welfare. I asked her if she was accompanied by her parents. She said “No”. I thought her parents must be so brave. I would not dare to let children of such tender age travel alone. She was too young to catch a bus and travel for herself.
I pushed away the fellow passenger harder and created way for her to the window side. I asked the Jigme Namgyel school student who was comfortably sitting on the chair with his legs widespread to donate some of his comfort to the little girl. She got to stand in the space between the two chairs, a much safer place in the Chinese Bus.