Fine dust was breezing in through widows of the bus. At times the bus bumped. There was a heavy crowd in the bus and then there was the unending chatter among people. Ganesh used to feel giddy and nauseated when the bus went through the ghat. But today Ganesh did not feel any discomfort.
This was because of the touch of her hand.
Who knows where this will lead to?
It is obvious that she is encouraging me.
Means, it is not just me who is taken up by her but …
She too has feelings for me.
The fire is lit at both the sides.
“Khat … Khat ..” Ganesh felt something making a sound. But he ignored it. He did not wish to come out of his day-dream. Again the sound, “Khat..Khat”. This time someone shook him. He came to senses and looked. It was the bus conductor.
“Yes..yes..” becoming confused he put his hand in his pocket.
Taking out a five-rupee note and placing it in the conductor’s hand he said, “One ticket to Ujni”
“Sir, this bus has just started from Ujni,” the Conductor said with a smile.
“I mean.. give me a ticket for the taluqa,” Ganesh said trying to hide his embarrassment.
Most of the time the same Conductor served this bus. Ganesh had learnt from someone that his village was somewhere on this road that is why he always chose to get his duty marked on this route. He would always stop the bus at his village and collect the morning or the evening meals box. The bus took a longer halt at his village. While collecting the meals box he also used to make small talk. Making a “Khat..khat”sound he tore a ticket and placed it in Ganesh’s hand. He then moved ahead making the same “Khat..Khat” sound. Ganesh kept the ticket in the top pocket of his shirt and, looking out of the window, again got immersed in his day dream.
“Sir ..wake up.. Are you asleep?” Ganesh was startled by a loud voice. Someone had shook him by his shoulders. Confused, Ganesh looked around. All persons, except him, had got down from the bus. The bus had entered the Bus stand and he was the only one to be still sitting inside. He was woken by the bus conductor. The conductor was looking down at him. Ganesh was thoroughly embarrassed. He took down his bag and began to get down from the bus. Since the time he felt Madhurani’s enchanting touch …Surely, she must have touched him purposely.
Otherwise, why would she have given a sweet smile?
From that time Ganesh was floating in the air. He never knew when he traced heavy steps from her shop to the bus stand… when the bus arrived.. when he got in it. and when the bus reached the bus stand of his taluka..
Her enchanting smile, the excitement of her touch and her ardent look was still not leaving his mind’s eye.
Ganesh got down from the bus. The conductor too, got down. The bus driver had already stepped out and was waiting at the rear entrance for the conductor to join him. After the conductor got down he allowed Ganesh to go a little further and, pointing at him, he said in an irritated voice – “Idiot… the entire bus got empty.. and this cartoon was still in his seat looking out of the window.
The driver looked at Ganesh and gave a bitter smile.
Ganesh was able to listen to all this. But ignoring it he took the bag and left the place..
(to be contd..)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote