Story : A Microbus

~Bikrant Koirala~Bikrant Koirala

A dirty looking boy with a pair of greased jeans, soiled shirt and an old stained white and black handkerchief tied around his neck shouts aloud standing near a microbus. His right hand full of cheap rubber bracelets that run from his wrist nearly up to his elbow bangs the exterior of the microbus. Sometimes in the middle he stops shouting to spit on the floor and then he again continues his shouting and banging. He puts his finger deep inside his hair, scrubs his scalp and then stares at his blackened nails. With not even a centimeter gap between any of the adjacent passengers, he declares it to be full and signals the driver to roll off.

The passengers in that microbus, whatever their destinations are, are heading towards the same direction. For another five, ten, twenty or any other counts of minutes they will be together. They all have their own lives and different stories to tell. But they are unaware of the fact that the world is a small place to live in. They will never know that although they have been passing their life in Kathmandu since their birth, their childhood photograph is hanging on the wall of a house in an island called New-Caledonia simply because their grand father had been a good friend to that New-Caledonian person when he visited Kathmandu. Restricting the observation only up to this microbus, among these sixteen or eighteen persons some of them might be related to one another and the beauty of this lies in the thoughts of these related persons. The thing one might be musing over can possibly be the subject matter of the others thought.

The last seat on the right has been occupied by a lady. Her attire suggests that she belongs to the majority which spends a long time in front of the mirror and is utmost concerned about every fringe and mark on the face. She carries a brown leather bag which is of course on her lap now and has a light shiny pink colouring on her lips. No doubt she is a good looking lady and it wouldn’t justify her attractive curves without calling her sexy. She was twenty one when she first came to Kathmandu. Four years passed and she has been struggling to make herself up to the big screen. Though she got small role breaks in a few television series her passion doesn’t let her stick to that but to climb up the next step.

That night she couldn’t sleep and hated herself to the level that she never did before. But later she did assuage herself realizing it to be the part of her profession and this would turn her more bold and confident. She still remembers her screening test for her debutant tv-series. The director of the series instructed her to sit on his lap. The bulky man with short grown white beard that covered his cheek then felt her breasts claiming it to be the part of screening. That night she also felt sorry for Bhusanraj back in her town. She didn’t like him much but for Bhusan she was the girl of his dream. She slapped him hard in the middle of the college ground when he was trying to catch her hand to stop her to express himself. But anyways her desire of becoming an actress is going to turn into reality very soon. Next year the same director is producing and directing a movie and she has a good chance for taking up the lead role. And she knows well that, for this she has to show best of her skills in both the acting and the ‘intimacy’ to convince the director.

A simple mathematics: the more the number of seats in the microbus, the more the number of passengers it can accommodate and consequently the more the earning for its owner. So due to this mathematical fact there is a strip of seat installed between the first row of the passengers seat and behind the driver’s cabin. Awkwardly, the people on this seat have to face the opposite direction looking straight to other passenger faces. And among these people is a woman in her early fourties and carrying a big plastic bag full of vegetables. There is no doubt in telling that she forms a typical house wife. But she is worried, the end of the month is approaching near and with it there comes the rent of the house, the college tuition fee of her daughter, the electricity and the telephone bill and the shopkeeper’s monthly payment. And it is difficult for her to manage with her husband’s salary who happens to be a high school teacher.

Most of her days are spent in the house doing the daily household chores, watering the flowers, watching the Indian tv-series and sometimes visiting the neighbouring Radhika didi for a little bit of chit chat. It’s been three years that she couldn’t pay a visit to her elder brother. Sometimes it would be her daughter’s exam and other time her husband’s never ceasing work at school. Though it’s a ten hours journey to her brother’s this Dashain she is fully determined to go there along with her daughter and her daughter’s father.

Now moving ahead and entering the driver’s cabin where leaving the driver four other people are squeezed together so that they can be well fitted in the space meant only for two. There is a boy, a teenage boy in his college uniform. He puts his right leg on the driver’s side nearly touching the clutch pedal and his left leg on the other side. And in between his legs there stands a long rod, a gear-lever of course, which the driver uses every now and then to change the gear. He has a black side bag and on that are pinned two buttons, one of them depicting Che Guevara and other Bob Marley. He has three months left to finish up his school and join the university.

But he is troubled and desperate, not by the long chained organic compounds and their bizarre reactions or by the smell of the formalin dipped rat’s carcass. What else it could be? – The poor guy is in love. He doesn’t want to leave the city but his father wants him to go abroad and continue his studies. And it’s not only his father, he himself has a desire to go abroad and study. The dilemma is: he cannot have both the sweet ‘[Disallowed String for – bad word]os’ that are in either of his hands, he has to make a choice and all by himself. Two years of love and he doesn’t want to risk it. Once he has gone abroad anything can happen; she might get married or he might find someone else out there. There is nothing called ‘safe-landing’ for him and in this case he has to take his chances.

The microbus advances forward stopping at certain places and the dirty looking boy keeps himself busy collecting the fare, dropping off and taking in the passengers. He has no concerns about the lives of all these people. If he is concerned about anything then it would be getting in passengers and reaching the destination as quickly as possible so that he can make more number of trips till the end of the day. And it is for sure that he won’t be interested in knowing that Bhusanraj whom the lady in the last seat slapped is actually the son of the woman’s elder brother, the woman’s daughter has been the girl friend of the teenage boy for two years and the teenage boy himself is the director’s son. The microbus halts at the last stop and within seconds all the seats are left vacant. Giving a brisk count to the collected fare the dirty looking boy then stands near the microbus and starts his shouting and banging.

The End

(Source : Sajha Dot Com)

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