It was a ridiculously crowded evening in the metro. Reading a book was becoming a tough act to get through.
Squeezed and continuously being jostled from side to side, I felt like a turntable or rotation dial of a locker- three turns to the left, four turns to the right, ‘Excuse me, may I pass through’, two turns to the left. I ended up in rather weird positions, like in a praying stance hunched over my book in reverence, or extending my book above a child’s head, as if in a Shakespearean play.
But this journey was not to end. At least with so little civility. Upon disembarking at my stop, I hopped into a three-wheeler, an e-rickshaw, similar to the tuk-tuks of Bangkok. Now these are quite rickety even if they have an aluminium frame. The road to be traversed is quite shady and ground conditions are like the surface of the moon. The ride at its best was like riding on the back of a camel, at its worst, dune bashing.
The three-wheeler normally seats four, but five is managed, with one person next to the driver. Today, there were eight. The driver was ensconced between two friends, while the third hung from the back of the vehicle like a chimp. With very turn, he swung back and forth, whacking against the vehicle.
Almost halfway through the journey, It was just me and the three friends. And that’s when Friend 3 started talking.
‘You guys are such good friends. Neither of you could offer a seat.’
‘No brother. We are always concerned about you. Such a hardworking fella, we knew if you skipped any opportunity to work, you’d forget the sheer taste of hard labour.
About this time we ran into some revellers who spilled onto the streets, and Baul singers who were clearly in their own mystical world. Swaying to the rhythm of the drums, they danced their way through the passage.
‘Ah, people have already started the celebrations. I’ll head home, have a quick bath and join you guys. And I’ll get a couple of bottles too. Without it, it won’t be fun,’ said Friend 3 who now sat opposite me. ‘Ah, who cares if I have a bath. I’ll just wash up quickly.’
‘Brother, when was the last time you had a bath?’
‘Two days ago. I was meant to have one today, but I got up so late. Five phones in the house, and not one can tell the correct time.’
‘You have FIVE phones!’
‘Yeah. They’re the ones I managed to get by steal in the metro.’
‘Ah, brother. You’ve said the truth at last.’
While I passively listened to their conversation with a poker face, my heart started thumping a little harder. No sooner did we reach my stop, I grabbed my bag, paid the driver, and made a beeline for home. Somedays, the journey home becomes quite adventurous.