She had been running for about a minute when the conductor finally heard her screaming –
“Arre bhaiyya roko! Kahan bhaagey jaa rahe ho! Agli bus pata nahi kis janam mein ayegi!”
The bus came to a halt and she hopped in.
“Aise kaun bus ke peeche bhaagta hai madam?!
Main. Pehle yahan ki bus service sudhaaro, fir comment karna!”
She was out of breath. She badly wanted a seat but the buses on this route were never empty. She struggled to move past the people, but finally found a place to stand. She tried to hold on to her bag with one hand while the other one clutched the bus handle.
After some time, a passenger sitting nearby got up to leave.
She raced towards him and occupied the vacant seat. She plugged in her earphones and closed her eyes.
A few minutes later, she started feeling uncomfortable. Someone was pushing against her arm incessantly.
She opened her eyes. The man standing next to her seat was practically falling over her.
“Thoda hatt ke khade hojao.”
“Oh sorry ji. Wo bus me kitni bheed hai na.. Dhakka lagta hai, hum bhi kya karein..”
She saw him turn towards his friend and wink. He was grinning.
Not even a minute had passed before she felt him push her again.
He is doing this deliberately, she thought to herself.
She knew that shouting at him wasn’t going to solve the problem. She thought of another idea.
She opened her water bottle and waited for the right moment. As soon as the bus jerked, she splashed water all over his pants. And to give it a finishing touch, she hit him hard with the same bottle.
The man screamed. He looked at his wet pants.
“Oh, sorry. Wo bus mein bheed hai na.. Dhakke lagte hai, hum bhi kya karein..”
He could sense the sarcasm in her tone.
A kid sitting on his mother’s lap pointed towards the man and shouted, “Dekho mummy, uncle ne kya kar diya!”
Passengers turned towards the man on hearing the kid’s comment. Some giggled.
His face turned red.
She glanced at him. He was embarrassed.
He walked towards the door and got off the bus.