She must have been around 50. Or maybe the hard life she had made her seem older. I’m not sure where she got on, but she ended up occupying the seat next to me on the bus. Obviously I gave her no regard and continued to stare out of the window, listening to my iPod.
She asked me what time it was, in broken Malayalam, confirming my suspicion of her being a laborer from Tamil Nadu. Shortly she nudged me again, to know where we were at. I answered and, surprising myself, decided to strike up a conversation. In all probability, my inner self just wanted to flaunt my knowledge of the Tamil tongue. She worked someplace up north and was on the way home to see her children after months. We were on the same route, which relieved her no end as we needed to change buses halfway and she couldn’t read the signs. The talk gradually weaned and I went back to my thoughts.
Just as our bus pulled into the station, I noticed the connection bus making its way out. Grabbing my backpack, I tried frantically to get out, but she was in the way. Lugging two heavy carry bags, she slowly made the descent one step at a time, not heeding the curses showered on her by the conductor. I frowned and grimaced impatiently and sprang out right after her, and ran after the bus that’d take both of us to our destination. Hopping in, I secured a seat by the window after the slightest nod to her that, yes, it goes in your direction too.
The feat with the bags repeated. I gave a cursory glance as I plugged on the headset, at her heaving the luggage up, one step at a time followed by the bulky frame, with the driver shouting at her to get on with it quickly. In a while she slumped down next to me with a heavy sigh, smiling apologetically.
And I wondered all too late; how difficult would it have been for my young lithe body to heave those bags up for her??