When the minute hand of my watch seemed to leapfrog the markings depicting minutes, the torrent of realization hit me in the face with full force. The initial impact of it was so much that it caused my jaw to literally drop down, a reaction which was mirrored in the look of the grey lady that passed me by. Grey lady I christened her because the grey in her hair begrudgingly eclipsed her furrowed skin – that showed her old age – claiming itself as the dominant feature. Late as I already am, it would be better if I quicken up my pace, lest I miss my bus, I reasoned. In all of two months, it was only once that I had missed my bus. And unexceptionable that once should be, at least in my mind, as I had woken up 8 minutes prior to the departure of my shuttle – the epithet for office bus in the newly-acquired-by-me jargon – for no reason at all, as I wanted to do something like that for a lark. I believed the mundane schedule of my newly acquired professional life was acting like a leech, sucking away at the vestiges of childlike qualities in me, which were already wallowing in scarcity. But today was different, I thought. Today I had no excuse to present myself with. So I packed some power into my stride and hurried through the narrow road winding its way through the neighbourhood at strict right angles – at most places at least.
I could feel the i-pod against my leg, safely cocooned in my trouser pocket. The thought of switching it on, putting on the earphones and filling up my world with beautiful songs, swooshed away with the same celerity with which it had presented itself – I did not want to delay my journey on foot any more than it already had been and the time it would have taken to position the i-pod out of my pocket could prove decisively fatal. I saw two kids playing badminton on the left of the road. The elder one – seemingly 14 years of age – had a reproachful expression on his face as if saying how dare the younger one – of about 12 – smash the shuttle so well that it was physically impossible for the elder one to reach it in time with his limited talent. My heart leapt with joy at the ironical but justified nature in which situations asserted themselves in this world. But the instant I gave my mind the leeway to wander so, a loud honk made itself felt in my ears indicating that I had trespassed into the vehicular territory – that is, the middle of the road. Moving out of the way and concentrating back on moving swiftly, I looked ahead.
The crossing from where I would be able to spot the presence – or absence – of the shuttle in its supposed position was less than 100 metres now. I dwelt on the option of covering just these hundred metres on an auto rickshaw – as I had already done once – and indulging myself in the same impishness that I mentioned earlier, but dropped the idea after a little deliberation as it required a healthy mix of timing, good fortune and assertiveness, neither of which seemed to be my companion this instant. So I continued walking. In half a minute – how precious even a few seconds seemed now – I reached the T-junction and instantly peered into the welter of vehicles to my right, seemingly racing towards me. And I spotted it. Coming towards me, with B6-083 splotched thickly in red at the top right corner of the wind screen, was the shuttle. My head instructed my heart to relax a little in its race towards inexplicably high rates of beating. I was going to get into the bus on time. I should feel relaxed, I told myself. I waved a hand as the bus was just about 40 metres away now. But then something happened.
He sped away, ignoring my presence like an elephant would miss an ant and inadvertently result in a walkover (again, literally!) for the ant, that is me in this case, who was waving his hands frantically, even making loud calls, hoping that my entreaties would fall on some ears. But to no avail. It was all in vain, the hurried walk, the decision to not put on the i-pod. I had missed my bus. I looked down and noticed, to my chagrin, that I was not wearing my access card around my neck (something which gives your ego a vanity shot in the arm as you can claim yourself to be an employee of XYZ company). And this was the reason why the driver of the bus refused to notice the insane flutter of my arms. I reflected a little on the course of action I could take. Then I realized that it was a historical day now. Missing the bus somehow added to my list of tomfooleries, I convinced myself. I felt younger at heart, chuckled, turned left, and started walking.