Wind (Haoa)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The bus was running in medium speed. It had no hurry to reach it's destination. It is a bus from the CSTC (Calcutta, now Kolkata State Transport Corporation). This is a medium aged bus. At the most four years old, and the seats inside are arranged for the CSTC long distance service buses. So, it was a converted city bus. Earlier may be it used to run to a destination of 200KM or more, whereas it runs for 10-15KM per trip through the city.

It is a summer morning. Though it is around 9AM in the morning, the environment of the city is pretty hot. The traffic is medium, though the bus is full, like all other buses in Kolkata. No seat was left while as many as 40 people are standing inside this 52 seats bus. People were suffocating inside as the wind is not passing through the windows and is there is no cool breeze, only hot gust coming through the opened door and windows of the bus.

The conductor of this bus is wearing a dust-colored full sleeve shirt on a khaki trousers. That is the uniform of the government bus workers in whole India. While just like the private ran buses, the conductor is carrying a bag of tickets and money, and repeatedly asking the passengers to purchase their tickets. Some of the passengers are listening to his appeal for buying the tickets and paying, while others are just ignoring him.

Madhumita was going towards the south of Kolkata to her aunt's place at Behala to meet them. She has purchased her tickets and was looking out of the window of the running bus. She likes to look at the hoardings for advertisements. Though it has pretty restricted in Kolkata to put hoarding, banner, etc. some hoardings are still there with different advertisements. There are several big hoardings of the political party candidates, who are going to compete in the forthcoming Parliamentary Election. There are three main political parties standing in this election from West Bengal, the state of which, Kolkata is the capital. The ruling party alliance, the main opposition with an alliance and a third party which doesn't have much influence in this state. The ruling party is ruling for nearly 32 years continuously, when the main opposition has done the successful alliance with the other oppositions for the first time in history.

"OK, OK, now stop here." The bus conductor shouted to the bus driver. The bus suddenly stopped.
"What happened man? Why have you stopped?" asked the man in check shirt, who was standing just beside Madhumita.

"Yes, yes, why, why?" queries started coming from other passengers sitting and standing in the bus.
"Well, there is some problem with the left front wheel of the bus. It is loosing air. We need to pore some air it it, and there will be no issue." The bus conductor answered coolly.

This is not a common phenomenon. Almost all the passengers targeted this morning bus to avoid the inevitable notorious traffic jam of Kolkata and most of them were traveling this 15KM distance from extreme north to south of the city in this unbearable hot morning, so, the murmur started automatically among the sociable passengers.

"These fellows are government servants. The VIPs."
"Now that the salary is increasing, they will be more VIP".
"What they do in the bus depot? They are supposed to check all the problems."
"Where is the time? Why should they care for me and you? Political Union of the ruling party is there."

Madhumita heard some discussions as well, while she is least bothered about these. She is around 22 years of age. Working for a call center at Sector V, Salt Lake City, Kolkata. She never wants to know about the political issues and from her past and present experiences she has known that gossiping this way is just wastage of time. People of West Bengal, specially people working for the government cannot be changed. The ruling party will rule and the unions will become more powerful day after day. You want to protest, they will not let you. Here, in West Bengal, everything is governed by political colors. You have a dispute with your neighbor, the political parties will come in to get some profit out of it. West Bengal, the Bengali, will never change. Nothing can change the unwritten rules. Only thing she has in her mind is to reach her destination quickly.

The bus started to move again after poring some air in the left wheel and the murmur stopped almost instantly. The bus have covered almost two thirds way to its destination. Passengers are continuously boarding and leaving the bus. Madhumita just finished talking to one her friends through her cell phone. Things seemed to be normal, when suddenly The bus conductor shouted again to the driver and the bus started running in a off rout.

"Hey, what are you doing?" asked the man in white shirt.
"It is not the proper rout. This is getting far away from my destination at Park Street." the guy wearing the greenish T-Shirt inquired.
"What's the matter. You are going away from the rout." again someone asked.
The bus conductor repeated his old answer. "We need to pour air in the left front wheel".
"What? You should have said earlier. I have important works."
"So, what could I do?" The bus conductor asked.
"Means? Three other passengers charged towards the conductor.
"You must have informed us earlier. We could have chosen some other option."

The bus almost stopped now and some of the passengers started getting off. But the rest of the passengers became furious.

"What the hell do you do at the depot?" somebody asked.
"Don't you have shame? You people being public servants wasting the time and money of people."
"Low class people. Only shouting for the ruling party leaders and getting the monthly salary from the government."
The cursing made The bus conductor angry.
"So, we are low class people, why are you yelling on us. Please shut up", he replied.

That reply added oil to the fire.
"How dare you talk to the public like this. Don't forget that you are a public servant."

The bus conductor realized that whatever these people are saying has truth in it. Even today, while they were having tea at the tea stall near the bus depot, neither the bus driver nor he felt the urge to check the Tyre of the wheels. Only thing they checked is the engine condition, brakes and fuel. But, again, it is a fact that he is an active member of the bus-union of the ruling party and may be elected as the secretary very soon. And these fellows do not understand how much power he may enjoy once he become the secretary.

Thinking all these in this situation and hot wind outside made him hot in anger. And he shouted back.
"Of course I am a public servant but not your servant. Don't talk to me like this, or else...."
"Have it been a private bus. We would have taught you how to talk to public." somebody said. In India touching a public servant on duty may bring a lot of trouble to a citizen. May be he recalled that, but some passengers do not care for the rules.

"Else what?" Three young guys surrounded The bus conductor. One of them pushed him.
"Let me show you", one of them tried to catch his collar.

Madhumita got nervous. She is thinking of getting late and start the bus right now. This is a sheer wastage of time and energy. The three passengers heading to the bus conductor must be members of the opposition party. That's why they want to show the muscle power. Also there is no point to dispute with a poor bus conductor. Only thing they all should do right now is cooperate.

Some other people may be thinking like her. So, one of them said, "Let it go. Let's do our best to start the bus and get it moving. We all are getting late.

"Here, we have an agent of the transport minister." shouted someone from the back side.
"Agent, agent. Tell him to come by the side of the conductor.
"He will report to the transport minister. As we all know, there are hooligans working for him, we will be all punished" someone yelled in mockery.
"32 years we are suffering from you, this will come to end."
"Let the election come, we will show them this time." said somebody.
"Only eating,sleeping, gossiping and shouting for the ruling party cannot save you all the time."

The three young fellows who stopped after pushing The bus conductor, realizing the dire consequences they may had to face. Hearing the verdict and support of the fellow passengers they gathered some fresh energy and tried to push The bus conductor again. The bus conductor realized that the situation is going out of his control and just jumped off the bus to save himself from the angry mob. The driver also vanished in no time.

Madhumita got up from her seat and pushed her way outside to get some other vehicle. She also thought once to protest for the bus conductor and let him pour the air to finish this journey. She understood that, though most of the people she mix with and almost everybody around her workplace do not care for the elections and even do not cast their votes, the surrounding has really become anti-ruling-party. From her elder ones she has always heard only about good deeds of the ruling party. She even casted her vote in favor the ruling party in the last election.But after a few major mistakes of the ruling party to acquire land from unwanted poor farmers for industrialization and being unnecessarily rude to the village people, even some encounter deaths of poor farmers have changed something internally.

People has become impatient and a wind of change may be blowing deep inside their minds. She once thought about the hooliganism the three young guys started. This kind of intervention will increase suddenly if the ruling party looses this time. People will take the rule in their hands and will do something drastic, just to show that, they are powerful too. The same way the cadres of the ruling party does these days. She suddenly realised that there is a high possiblity of a civil war some day in the villages,suberbs, towns and even in this metropolis Kolkata, once the rulling party falls.

She felt the scorching heat of the sun outside and the burning sensation from the hot wind blowing . She felt as if the wind is the wind of change for this state that will burn a lot of things in the coming days.


agnitrisha July 13, 2009 at 10:16 AM  

loved the post. its really very bright. :)

Subhasis August 21, 2009 at 3:15 PM  

Great observation.great story. this is reality. Not like the recent hindi movies which creates reality. most of guys and gals will enjoy this story.Hey Shankha, write more nd more.

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