That Bus Ride

As I leaned back on my seat, trees flew past and humans became a blur. The driver had a slow and late start. He sounded short-tempered and even the slightest sign of a hold-up triggered his irritation. He even snapped at the cashiers in every toll booth.

We were running behind schedule and he had the obligation to make up for lost time with speed. He stomped on the accelerator like he’d done so many times before and the bus shot forward, covering miles in minutes.

Next to me sat a young woman with distress in her eyes. She hit the redial button on her phone for what felt like the fourth time in five minutes. Every time the call went through, the person on the other line disconnected the call. My inherent sleuth recognised a strained relationship. My intuition, however, warned me to shut up.

Feeling a sudden jolt, I returned my eyes to the whizzing greenery. We cruised by, a marred Volvo along a tarred road. I heard the driver’s annoyance again as his swearing at the other vehicles carried through to the end of the bus.

My hearing impaired for a couple of minutes because the horn had gone on for a couple of seconds. Through the window, I watched: in one quick motion, we swerved away from the road as another bus rushed toward us. Before I could draw a shuddering breath, we had swerved back on track having avoided the collision. We sailed again, and I smiled to myself. Lucky for me, almost all drivers are experts in navigating the troubling Indian roads, living to laugh about it.

A mile behind us, another driver swerved. He was no expert.

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