I was in a hurry the other day. I had to catch the bus. It is irritable as daily, there are hundreds of people travelling through Kolkata in the local buses, which are mere corpses of what they had been in their younger days. Most of them bear resemblances to corrugated tin boxes on wheels, with the minimum wooden benches for support. 80% of the people stand while travelling. There is virtually no space as people huddle together. Unscrupulous elements try to take advantage of the 'pilchards in a tin can' factor by getting closer to women. Some unfortunate ones even get slapped in the process. The more fortunate ones have their way into their sleazy dreams of sweat and intimacy.
I am a mere journalist trying to make a mark in a famous Bengali daily. And when it should have been my objective to keep my mind fresh in these early hours, I was thinking about this and that. Shoo shoo... freshen up man! freshen up!
So, as I was waiting for the bus at the stand, I saw this old man come up to me. The man had wrinkled features and was quite lean and thin. He just came up and asked me, "Apnar kachhe ek takar coin hobe? amar kachhe change nei, please ektu dekhun na..." ("Do you have a one rupee coin with you? I do not have and need it urgently. Please..."). I took pity on the man and checked my wallet to find out exactly what he wanted and handed it over to him. Yes, there had been so many occasions when I had been deprived of these coins when I had needed them so much. In any case, it felt nice to have been able to help a needy man. I forgot the incident and went on with life.
After a few days...
One fine morning as I was going to catch the morning bus again, I saw the same old man. I tried to smile at him and thought he would recognize me, but he did not show any signs. I moved on. From a distance I tried to figure out what exactly he was up to. And again, he was there asking an elderly gentleman, "Sir, do you have a one rupee change? I am in dire need of it!" I decided that I would find out what he really did with these coins every day and decided to follow him secretly. As he started moving, I was at his heels. He finally stopped at a small pan shop and declared gallantly, "Hey, give me a cigar!" The shopkeeper obliged.
I thought, nice way to keep up with addictions (with others' money)!
LG says, "Life is beautiful". I said, "Life is strange" and moved away.