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Desi Sad Drama

The isolated bus stop at the outskirts of the city was waiting since past one year for the three regular commuters who always took the first bus and were also the last passengers to return. Two young men and a woman , all in their early thirties , with their backpacks ,always took their designated seats, never spoke to each other except for a thin crescent smile which disappeared even before it reached their eyes to acknowledge each other’s presence.

Today of course, the bus stop appeared happy with the lone almond tree with new leaves and few birds chirping as if to welcome the three commuters who were back to the bus stop waiting for the first bus. Nothing changed much but this time the smile was as bright and beautiful like a full moon clearly indicating how much they missed each other, the bus stop and even the old bus which took them to their work and back. It’s exactly one year since when life abruptly changed for all of them. 

Deepak, athletic body, with thick black hair with crazy streaks of blue and green here and there, with a cupid tattoo just below the nape of his neck always seemed to lip-sing some tune which he heard on his earphones. He worked as a hairdresser in a reputed hair saloon. Earned a decent salary but not good enough to afford the rentals to live near his work place. So always he had to travel one hour to reach his work and home back and forth. 

Karl Sebastian, was a tall young man, with long hair tied in a ponytail, always drumming his fingers on any flat surface with his head dancing to the tunes produced by his fingers. There was always a big bulge in his backpack which seemed bit heavier. He worked with an Event organisation firm. His job was to blow balloons and decorate them as per the client’s wish in birthday parties, anniversaries or office get together . The bulge in his backpack was small machine to blow air in the balloons. Of course the salary was just enough to survive decently but not enough to afford the luxury city life.

Razia , a petite woman, in thirties, worked as a beautician in the city. She enjoyed her work. She was deft with her fingers.Her client, mostly rich women gave her handsome tip. Life was good . She got good money to take care of her parents and younger brother. Her parents preferred to stay in the suburbs and She didn’t mind  commuting everyday for one hour in the bus and see familiar fresh faces in the morning and tired but happy faces in the evening travelling back like birds flying back to their little nests.

The trio had many things in common . One- was to save ten percent of their earnings. Two -their job was only an year old. Each had a plan to get married during the leap year. It was second week of March by end of Summer , they would have sufficient savings to fulfil their dreams.

It was Monday morning, the three youngsters came on time and waited for their bus. No bus came. More than an hour passed. All the three looked far ahead for the bus to come. Next the three picked up their mobile phones and may be called their respective offices.

“ What is Lockdown? What Virus? Isn’t in China ? How can it come all the way to our city? You mean we can’t go to work? What do you mean ? For how many days? What about our pay cheque?... What ! I am asking too many questions? .... uff the phone got disconnected,”Deepak was shouting at the top of his voice. The other two passengers were showing similar reactions on their phone. After an hour all the three walked back to their homes bit excited like kids when  sudden holiday is declared on a rainy day.

Seven months passed. Streets were deserted. Faces covered with masks , people could be seen moving with utmost caution. Everywhere from temples to schools, hospitals to shops one could see round circles painted in white symbolised to remain within the circle and follow social distancing. It appeared as if the world for everyone had shrunk to a circle. 

Computers , smart phones took over. Every thing from marketing , school lessons, work in offices suddenly changed online. Work from home became an in thing. But what about skilled and unskilled work force. The three bus acquaintance were left helpless.

Deepak spent his time taking care of his tools. Slowly he wondered if he could ever again would be the most sought after hairstylist. All his savings dwindled. His girlfriend left him. News papers only flashed about number of deaths across the globe. The virus, an invisible enemy whose icy hand would choke the life to die a stray dog’s death. The body would be wrapped in polythene like a suitcase in the airport and cremated with no one to shed a tear for you.

People stopped celebrating all occasions be it wedding, birthday or engagement. There was no work for Karl. He would blow the balloons , and tie them with a string and let them fly from his little window. No child was seen playing in the street. He kept the choicest balloons of red, blue, pink and green with a hope if the lockdown ever lifted, he needn’t waste time procuring them. 

Razia had nowhere to go. All her savings were gone. Her father fell ill. He was declared positive and moved to the hospital. Immediately the family was treated as an outcaste. No one visited the family. They were deprived of basic amenities. In bold letters a poster was pasted on the door front declaring their house as red zone. Friends and relatives all stopped visiting them. After ten days , the poor family got the news of father’s death. The superficiality of relations, values shattered like a glass window pane. Razia’s engagement broke. Her fiancé stopped communicating with her even on phone has if the virus would effect him online.

Coming back today, the lockdown was lifted and the three bus passengers came back to gather their life through their bus to carry them to the city. The driver and the conductor were new people , and in their one hour journey very few familiar faces joined and rest were lost to the pandemic. All of them seemed to have lost the art of smiling. Faces covered with masks, bottles of hand sanitisers hanging from bags and uncertainty reflected in their eyes. No hand shakes, no warm hugs or happiness to see those alive and no regret for those dead.  

They got back their jobs at half pay. Karl still had no hope. All three came back in the evening. The bus stopped. Karl handed one balloon to each of his companion. All the three removed their mask smiled at each other. Razia said, “ Hey buddies see you tomorrow” and all the three waved at each other and walked to their respective homes...

March 12, 2021 15:21

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2 comments

Gm Sreenivas
03:13 Mar 29, 2021

Truth of losing savings and resuming with 50% paycuts it is tough and you did a descent work to bring this.

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Devinder Kumar
02:04 Mar 25, 2021

Such a touching and relevant story. Shows struggles of lower middle class in such a way where everyone can correlate. Either they faced it or they watched it. Shattered dreams but light is visible at the end of the tunnel.

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