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Bus Ride

The Doomed Bus Ride

    

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A Doomed Bus Ride


This true story happened sometime in 1986. The Prime Minister of the country was assassinated about two years ago and the state was slowly returning back to normalcy. But, stray incidents of attacks on common people were still happening. Other than becoming a headline in the newspapers, it did not make any impact. This is a true story of one such newspaper headline that made an impact on me.

I was doing a job that required extensive travelling to various towns, cities and even to some remote villages where all these attacks were happening. I would get ready in the morning and start going on my way without giving a second thought about these newpaper headlines. I found the best way was to read the news paper after I return back in the evening after my journey.

That day I had gone to a town about 60 km from my home. I had gone there with a colleague. There was a bus only once in a couple of hours. There was no railway track to that place either. So we decided to take the 3:30 pm bus back home as it was an hour and half long journey. The next bus is at 6:00 pm which means we reach back home only in the night.

To cut the story short, I finished my work and came to the board the bust at about 3:20 pm. But, my friend was yet to reach there. So, I boarded the 3:30 pm bus and sat in it. I took tickets for both of us and waited. The bus driver started the engine and the bus was about to move. But, my friend had not reached. As the bus started moving, I quickly got up from my seat and alighted from the bus.

I felt very angry at my friend who could not keep his word. Now, we have to wait till 6:00 pm for the next bus. A few minutes later my friend came in a tricycle with a seat for its rider and two cushioned seats behind for passengers. He came running to me and started appologising profusely for getting late and blamed the tricycle driver for all the delays.

The tricycle driver came and asked for his money. But, my friend refused to pay him and shouted at him for getting him late and missing the bus. I looked at the tricycle driver. He was a very old man with most of his skeletons bulging out of his skin. I asked him how much my friend owes him and paid the old man. He thanked and left. And now my friend started abusing me for paying the tricycle driver.

After a while, my friend calmed down. We talked about how the day went for both of us, sitting in a tea shop. Every 15 minutes the tea shop owner would come around asking us to vacate the seats to make room for his other customers.  We had nowhere to go. So, every time he came told us to vacate the seat, one of us would order one more tea. Despite alternately having tea, each of us ended up drinking four tea in two hours.

Our 6:30 pm bus arrived and we got into it. The bus started moving. After a few minutes, I noticed that the bus took a diversion from the highway. The two of us started assuming things. But then came the bus conductor to collect ticket money.

I asked the bus conductor, "Brother, why are we not taking the highway?"

The bus conductor said, "The highway is blocked by police since 4:00 pm and there is a traffic jam there. So, we are taking this unpaved road to circumvent that part of highway."

I was satisfied because police blocking roads for random check is a common event those days due to the civil unrest. After a while, we were back on the high way and the rest of the journey was eventless. I reached home at about 9:00 pm.

Next morning I got ready to go to a different town. As I opened the front door of my house, the Newspaper lay on the floor. I picked it up and placed it on the table neatly for my father who spends a few minutes reading newspaper before going to his office. But, suddenly the news headline on the front page caught my attention. I picked up the newspaper casually and read the article.

It read, "All Onboard The Bus Shot to Death." But, when I read through the first two paragraphs, a chill went through my spine. The incident happened at  3:45 pm. It was the same 3:30 pm bus which I had boarded and got down. I and my friend didn't miss just that 3:30 pm bus ride, but we missed death too.


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