“Excuse me; does this bus go to BEL circle”?
“Yes”. The conductor said, trying really hard to stay calm as he passed by me in a fully packed blue city bus.
It was my second day at med school and I was on my way back home.
I had changed four buses that morning to get to the college and was horrified by the thought of spending a minimum of 4 hours a day in the commute, traveling back and forth between the college and home.
“Really, are you sure”? I asked repeatedly as I followed him squeezing my way through the tiny gaps in between the people in the bus.
“Yes, it does,I will let you know when we get there now stop bothering me". He said somewhat angrily and walked away.
The thought of having just one bus that could take me all the way home was enticing but hard to believe.
|Its gets better once you get used to it !|
The conductor was true to his word.
10 minutes later he announced that the next stop was BEL circle.
I knew this was impossible, there was no way we had covered all that distance in just 10 minutes.
The bus halted, the place we were at bore no resemblance to BEL circle, I protested, but that didn’t help, a few seconds later a found myself standing outside the bus in a place I had never seen or been before.
I looked around and the address on most sign boards read ‘BHEL circle’.
Bharat electronics (BEL) & Bharat heavy electricals (BHEL) are 2 different companies, they have large offices in Bangalore and parts of the city are named after them, the only problem was that the abbreviations of both names sounded more or less the same when pronounced.
For the first time in my life I felt lost, lost in a city I had lived in for 18 years.
There was a floating crowd in the bus station a large number of people came and went, except for me and another guy dressed in a red shirt, we both seemed to waiting for buses that did not come that way.
Every time a bus landed at the stop I would rush to the entrance and yell out – “Does this go to BEL circle”?
Most of the bus drivers and conductors would just shake their heads, a few of them would try convincing me that I was actually at BEL circle and when I would try to explain the difference between BEL and BHEL they would just drive away.
“You won’t get a bus from here to BEL circle sir”.
I turned around; it was the guy in the red shirt.
“I have been watching you for a while, you look lost”. He said.
I didn’t want to admit I was lost, so I said, “No, Just a little confused that’s all”.
“Well here is what you have to do, in a few minutes bus number 405 will come this way, get on it, get down 3 stops from here, cross the road, wait at the bus stop that you will see to your right, catch bus number 502D which ideally should arrive a few minutes after you get there, that will take you to BEL circle”.
“405, 3 stops, cross the road, 502D right”? I confirmed the planned route.
“Yeah ! That should get you home”. He said affirmatively.
I felt grateful.
“I’m Thomas, what is your name”? I asked him.
“Richard”. He replied.
“Where do you want to go, looks like you have been waiting here for a long time too”. I enquired.
“Well…… Richard began to say when I interrupted him.
“I’m no expert as you may have already concluded by now, but I may be able to help you”. I said.
“Thomas, looks like your bus is here”. He said pointing towards the road.
He was right; Bus no 405 was making its way into the station.
I wanted to get in, but a part of me wanted to get to know more about this person I had just met who helped me out from a very difficult situation.
“Thanks a lot Richard, I hope your bus comes by soon.” I said as I boarded the bus.
“That’s all right Thomas, I live just across the street”.
The bus doors closed and we began to move.
I looked through the glass windows and saw Richard carefully cross the road walk down the lane for a while and then, disappear into the crowd.
|He disappeared into the crowd|
To this day I have not been able to fully understand why he stood in the bus station for all that time when all he had to do was cross the street and go home.
In about a month’s time I became very familiar with the city’s public transport system, the conductor of bus number 227A who confused BEL and BHEL circle became a good friend of mine, every now and then I would purposefully get into his bus, get off at BHEL circle and reminisce my adventure on the second day at college.
Every time I did this I would hope to bump into the guy in the red shirt, I wanted to meet him, thank him once again for helping me out and ask him why he waited all that time when he lived so close to the station.
It’s been almost 9 years now since that day, I never met Richard again.
Sometimes in life we meet people even though we don’t plan for it in advance.
They walk into our lives often when we least expect it, and leave just as mysteriously as they appeared.
Before we can even get our head around it, they’ve come and gone.
Often, we play that role too in the lives of other people.
I have repeatedly tried to understand the meaning of all this, why do we meet people who touch our lives in a unique way and when we do meet them, why do they have to leave?
Back when I was in school, around 10 years old, I had a classmate named Srishti, she was a very quiet girl. I rarely ever heard her speak, she sat in front of me in class and every morning she would briefly turn around to look at me, smile and look back at her desk, this would happen even if she left her seat for a break or lunch, she would return to her place, smile at me and sit down.
I too would smile back. Our interactions were limited to this polite gesture for nearly a year.
One day our class teacher announced that Srishti was leaving the school and moving to another city, that evening, after all the classes had ended, she stood up looked at me a smiled again, for possibly the last time and started to walk away.
I hoped she would turn back and say something.
Again, I could never explain why she and I never spoke to each other, and yet how we took every opportunity we had to make each other smile.
I found my answer to these questions around a week ago when I went through the contact list on my phone.
I took a few seconds at each number I had saved on my phone, there were so many people in there I had come in contact with at some point of time or the other in my life.
Apart from close friends and family, there were people whom I had known for a very brief moment in time, people who just came and went, often leaving no trace behind except a number that doesn’t even connect nowadays.
Each of them had done something for me, some of those memories were pleasant, some weren’t but I didn’t want to delete them from my phone, I realized that those people were a part of my life I ways both small and great they had touched my life, and I could never take that away from them or myself.
I realize now that no matter how small our history is with a person, in some weird way we nudge them closer to their destiny.
Sometimes the role we play is that of a person who helps a heal broken heart, sometimes we help people get back on their feet and find their confidence again, a small crush maybe what it takes to get a person to start believing in love for a second time.
When our part in the lives of others has been played, no matter how bad it hurts we need to take a bow and politely move on.
Our job is done.
There is always hope that our paths may cross with those of the ones who made us feel special for a while, and where there is hope there is happiness.
When I think of Richard I am reminded of a man who helped me find my way back home on a day when I was lost, when I think of Srishti I think of a girl who loved to see me smile every day.
Our lives are not meaningless friends; there is reason behind everything that happens to us, everything we do and everyone we meet, these reasons however may remain obscure forever.
In many ways unknown to us, we are touching the lives of the people around us,only God, who brings people into our lives and takes us into the lives of the others, knows the reasons.
So whats left for you and me to do.
Let’s keep living cause like it or not, we are making a difference, no matter how small it may seem.
P.S : When you find the time, do try looking through the list of contacts in your phone, you'll fully understand what i mean :-)
Until Next Time.
Until Next Time.