I'm so happy that I took that ride
I don't like to travel by bus. I prefer a train. In a city like Mumbai it's inevitable I suppose. But sometimes you get to see or meet something or somebody so special in Mumbai streets that it makes the whole experience worthwhile and it leaves a mark deep inside you.Going to my sons' school makes me sick. Not that they are bad in studies-both of them are doing really well. But they are doing equally well in all the mischief areas. So, invariably I land up listening to all the complaints the class teacher piles up to pour on me the moment she sees me on that special day i.e infront of all other parents. Sometimes I question their ability--and ask myself-' are they actually equipped to teach the next generation?'
It was a regular weekday-in a hot mumbai summer.I started at the Malad West bus stop as that's the only way I could go to my sons' school.
Was it near the fire station or was it the Malwani stop? I don't remember properly; but I remember one thing clearly--there were many of them. Wearing sky blue half shirts and nevy blue pants. Unlike my sons there were hardly any shoe or tie to go with their uniforms. Most of them were wearing hawai chappals or faded flotters.
'Tere paas kitna hai?'The whisper was loud enough for my ear.
'ek rupaiya. dekh to woh sahi me charh nehi paya kya?'
the two little boys-just about the same age as my sons-were nervous that their friend who had the moneyfor the bus fare couldn't board the bus. It's natural. I can't even imagine my sons travelling in a bus all alone like this.
'main madad kar sakti hu?' the mother inside me prompted to utter the words.
'nehin, nehin auntie. thik hai.'
' mere paas kafi change hai, de du?'I offered again.
' nenin.' came the firm reply. 'jyada se jyada hum dono ko ek stop paidal jana parega, bas.'
My instinct said that I shouldn't hurt their feelings. I didn't want to assult their pride.Their self respect. But just the thought of these two small boys walking about a mile under the hot summer sun made me wanted to cry.
I gulped down my tears. Seeing them getting down made me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because they are the next generation--with the right amount of pride and self respect. Sad because my sons are not like them.