Travelling in public transport teaches you lessons which no school can teach, from reserving your seat with a kerchief, to accommodating a fourth total stranger next to us in a seat which can only seat three people, to small couplets that seem nonsense but yet make some weird sense. A public transport at times is an institution for those little yet essential things. We travel with people belonging to all classes of the society, we see them everyday and at times we wonder about the lives they lead, the problems they face, and secretly scoff at their eccentric mannerisms. But there are times when the calm looking middle-aged stranger sitting next to us can explode and unleash his fury, this is one such instance when it happened, and thankfully I was not at the receiving end.
I was on my way from work to meet my folks in Nungambakkam, I was at Tiruvanmiyur waiting outside the severely waterlogged bus depot, and with me there was a sea of humanity waiting restlessly for their bus. After a lot of cursing under my breath and getting some awkward stares from the bystanders my bus finally arrived. I launched myself into it along with the rest of the crowd, and grabbed a seat next to a man in his late forties, he wore a checked shirt and plain trousers and his shirt was tucked out and had worn a cap, he had the tired look on his face like rest of the other passengers who were returning from work. He did not look like a software engineer nor some bank clerk, he seemed to be a man who must have had a tired rough day, which probably must have involved taking a lot of crap from his bosses, yet doing his job diligently. All he was praying for must be a peaceful ride back home, God had planned something else for him.
The bus comprised of largely youngsters in their early 20s (the techies and yuppies) and the women folk (techies and yuppies and oldies), there was just a scattering of the middle-aged men. Near Adyar in the middle of the road, stood a drunk bum, he had the khaki uniform on, turned out that he was an off duty bus driver. He waved his hands and charged at the bus a la Don Quixote charging at the windmills mistaking them for dragons. The driver did not bother stopping the bus and sped away much to the ire of the drunk bum. The bum caught up with the bus when it stopped at the bus stop, and sat at the front seat opposite to the driver. The boozer was slowly getting into the groove, threatening the poor bus driver about the consequences he will face for making him (the boozer) run all the way. He was boasting about the people he knew and the ass kicking the driver is gonna get, the passengers could feel the tension that this may just get ugly, and ugly it did get….
All this while the man next to me was watching the drama unfold, probably gritting his teeth, when out of nowhere Don Quixote started throwing punches at the bus driver who was driving, this act unleashed the caged fury within my co-passenger. He jumped from his seat, and along with another valiant passenger pulled away the miscreant, the confrontation turned out to be so ugly that drunkard was forced out of the bus, all this while we yuppies could only sit and watch whereas the middle aged men took matters into their own hands. Theirs is the breed of the battle hardened warriors who have been fighting all their lives, earning bread for their family by putting up with the crap that’s thrown on them, they march on without any complaints, they remain a face in the crowd, pissed of at the injustice they have to deal with- the corruption, the overpriced groceries, the never ending calls from the banks. All they asked for was a trouble free ride back home, and they were not gonna let any drunk bastard take it away from them. Fuck Kandasamy he shall remain a Cock , these were the real heroes that day. While we, the self-obsessed youth are busy living a fast-food life chasing cushy jobs, a six-figure salary, and in the end not satisfied with what we attained, these men of the late 50s and early 60s march on with their lives. They have seen it all, and they have suffered a lot too, there is a volcano waiting to erupt, and when tempers soar they just might explode. The youth may be the face of the nation, but it’s men like these who are the nation’s heart.
P.S: This post is not meant to be preachy or act as any sort of eye-opener. This is a post dedicated to that passenger who had the cojones to right a wrong.