The bus sped through taking advantage of sudden emptiness of the road. Cool breeze rushed in through the open window, a seat I was lucky to secure. I breathed in deep at the sudden rush of sweet cool air at that acceleration. My face turned to watch the flash past of street views. I, let my mind soak in those hazy quick, darting images of life.
The bus screeched to a halt. Must have hit a traffic signal. I gazed at the life that now was unfolding at speed of absorption by mind. Morning signalled a new day to almost all on the street below. The men women and children hurrying to beat the clock to arrive in time at their destination.
I looked up to see the school sign indicating that there was a school close by. A warning to drivers on the Main Street to drive cautiously. I lovingly looked at the kids in uniforms. Ah! Education way to progress. Some holding hands of parents, some elder kids crossing the zebra independently, some younger kids fussing, some waiting in the car along with their parent to be dropped off as the signal changed. Groups of elder students as they crossed were noisy, chattering, serious, somber, discussing, adjusting their heavy satchels that seemed to weigh on their shoulders. The smaller kids too with their larger satchels and scowling, uncertain, disinterested hurried across the zebra by their parents before the signal turned green. I smiled. They will remember school days fondly only once they pass out, I thought indulgently.
I settled back as the signal turned green and the bus took off. I curbed an urge to wave these kids a bye. Smiled to myself and hoped that I will face less traffic. Nothing as dreadful as getting stuck in it.
But, there we were.. a little down the road, the bus slowed, and the engine ran idle soon enough as the driver waited. I knew this spot. It was a local market that thrived in the morning hours. Vendors and buyers equally thronged the area. I watched the scene. Negotiations, arguments, quick deals. And children, urchins playing. The scene a vast contrast to what I witnessed at a signal just moments ago.
I watched them. A part of me feeling sad at normal life that’s school life denied to them. There they were, jumping around, running around, laughing at mundane things, trying to run each other out in their dirty, soiled, matted unwashed hair and body. Running noses wiped by their sleeves with carelessness..their eyes gleaming, their mouths wide in smile as they pulled up their trousers with one hand as it slipped from their waists. The vibe was upbeat. They exuded a fulfilment that we crave, seek. The contrast shook me.
The bus, finally managed to inch it’s way out of the local market. I glanced out of my window to look at the kids shouting, falling over each other as their hands frantically waved a goodbye to the passengers of the bus. I couldn’t help but, raise my hand to wave a bye.
For the first time my heart went out to kids.