The Ride That Freaked Me Out

I remember last year in winter, one morning I was sitting in a bus on my way to the office when something really freaked me out. It was a jam packed bus as it is quite an off route place and only few buses run along that road. Being winter, people were all inflated with layers of clothes, coats and phirans. It was a tight call, with literally no space to move. Thankfully I was sitting on the first seat of the two seated line of the bus right at the door. A middle aged man sat beside me. He was probably going to office too in his gray tweed coat and black formal pants. He was silent as was the rest of the bus. All absorbed in their own world. It always intrigues me every time I get on a bus, how everyone comes from a different world. How everyone is living their own life, are happy or sad, achieving or struggling,  how you can never know what exactly the person right in front of you, or sitting beside you is going through! Honestly it amazes me. When they share your world for a little time of commute, they become a part of your world and then disappear probably never to be seen again. Occasionally when your eyes meet with a fellow passenger’s, you simply nod or slightly smile as a polite acknowledgement of each other’s existence.

Anyways, as I was looking outside the window, feeling the chilly breeze on my face; I really like the feeling of wind against my face till I get a brain freeze in cold winter days. The bus halted at a stop and two women got in. Though there was absolutely no space even to stand, the conductor urged the standing passengers to compress a little and create some space for the two. The bus moved on a snail’s pace it usually takes on, when overload. This lady who was also in her middle age wore a black coat over a kameez salwar, white and green floral print and a matching green stole wrapped across her head. She was cold standing just next to the open door.

Standing right in front of me, I could see how really uncomfortable she was. The man sitting next to me asked a standing passenger in a very polite tone to move a step back and make more room for the other lady who had just boarded the bus with her. As he spoke, I presumed him to be someone who had only daughters as his children. It is strange and maybe a totally insane thought but I somehow believe that a father who has only daughters in comparison to the one who only sons or has both, is more sensitive and well behaved, more soft in his tone and nature. I really don’t know why I have that notion, but I do and that is exactly the thought that came to me at that instance.

The bus stated gaining speed and the passengers were losing control and tripping back and forth a step or two every now and then. This lady standing too close to the door was also unable to balance her. I felt sympathetic towards her. She seemed to be freezing cold as well. In my head I thought why someone can’t give her their seat. A lot of young men were sitting and could easily offer her their seat. But then the culture is changing and so are mannerisms and such simple curtseys were no more a given anymore. Just then she tipped on my foot and I came back from my thoughts. I gave her an understanding nod that meant no problem. In my head, I said to the man beside me. Uncle, please leave your seat for her. She would be better sitting down than falling off the bus from the open door. He was a total stranger to me and I could not ask him directly to give up his seat for another stranger. So I kept my thoughts to me, seated in my head. But I couldn’t believe what happened next. What he said the very next moment is what freaked me out and I still remember the feeling I got back then.

He actually got up and offered her his seat. Good! I thought and smiled at him as appreciation of his gesture.  When the woman thanked him, he told her it was no big deal. “I am just keeping the heart of this young lady here, who is like a daughter to me. She asked me to give up my seat for you. I just obliged!” Without a word, he somehow had heard my thoughts. I sat dumbstruck at my seat unable to utter a word. It freaked me out. I looked at him in total bewilderment. He just amusingly stared at me. He got off at the next stop and while stepping out, he looked at me and smiled, as if in acknowledgement of our telepathic conversation.

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