Saturday, November 22, 2008

O-HO !!

Recently I was asked to go on an offical tour to some nearby regions of Amritsar and Tarantaran of Punjab. As it was the first time I was visiting small towns of Punjab I was very anxious.I reached Amritsar by bus at around 11. Already late and no time to get to the hotel I placed my luggage in the cloak room and went to the local bus station to catch the bus to a small town Othian some 15-20 km away. The bus was already standing but it was almost empty. I was waiting for the bus to start so that I could climb on it.

It was then when I saw an old sikh man. He must be in his 70's. I immediately understood that he was a villager. He was wearing a white turban which was not neatly done and I thought that he must have hurriedly tied it. A second thought came that a neat one would have been out of place on his overall dress. He was wearing a wrinkled white kurta and pyjamas. He had a nice flowing white beard. Seeing me, he came to me and asked "Othian layi kedi bus jayegi ?"(Which bus will go to Othian?) "Ay ho bus jayegi menu v uthe hi jaana hai, aao" (This bus will go. I also have to go there, come.) I replied and climbed on the bus and he followed. He took the window seat and I got seated next to him. I could easily smell the odour one gets from village folk.

The bus started and I hoped to reach my destination soon. The driver put the cd of punjabi songs and the music started blaring. I gave up the idea of listening to music on my mobile which feels great when one is watching the green countryside. Cool wind was blowing outside I could see the flowing white beard of my companion from the corner of my eye. Why do we shy away from getting into physical contact with people who are not of our class or position or who are so different from us in many respects. I thought.

I positioned my elbow in such a way so that I could remain in contact with his body for a while. Inspite of having a small conversation earlier I had not seen his face completely. I turned my head and saw outside from the window so that I could see his face too. He had sparkling eyes which were a little moist. The moistness we often see when one is happy or sympathetic. The wrinkles were clearly visible and the curve below his eyes said that he smiled too often. I imagined him playing with little children and having a hearty laugh.

The ticket collector came and thinking that the ticket might not be costing more than a few bucks I asked him for two tickets to Othian. A hand grabbed my wrist. "Is tarah ni kareda bachhe"(One doesn't do like this my child) and he passed the money to the collector and took his own ticket. I saw him taking out the money from his pocket. He had one hundred note, a few ten rupee and few coins. He kept the ticket in his pocket looked at me, smiled, thought something and moved his head away and started looking outside. The destination was not far off.

The lady on the next seat ws inquiring about the daughter in law of the other lady whom she had met for the first time. How easily we forget the interactions we have with other people. What can we do to really turn an interaction into a pleasant experience? I will go my way and he will go his. I thought.

The bus now was bustling with village people and the music shifted itself into the background and was hardly audible. Seeing the name Othian on the shops outside I got up and told my neighbour that the destination has come. Both of us together with some other passengers got down.

He got perplexed after getting down as if something nasty had happened. He immediately went to a nearby shop and inquired if that place was Hothian. I was stunned and speechless. I on my part asked a person nearby if there was a place by the name Hothian. He told me that it was very far from there. "Tuanu hothian jana si ? "(You wanted to go to Hothian ?) I asked the old man in my crooked punjabi accent. "Haan"(Yes) he said. "O-HO !" I exclaimed.

"Ohi te! tu O suneya te mein Ho kahea !" (Yeah! you heard 'O' instead of 'Ho' !) . I saw a big smile with a grin on his face with twinkling eyes. But I felt ashamed and unforgivable. It was due to me that he was there at that stage. Later I gathered that I did heard Hothian when he inquired about it at the bus station but at that time I thought he didn't knew the exact name. But I was wrong. I was already late and didn't knew how to help him. May be the only solution for him was to catch the bus going the other way and spend some more money and time. I had no courage to give him money for the ticket. Nor I felt like saying him goodbye.

"Hune idronh hi vaapsi di bus aayegi tusi o le laina" (A bus will come back through same route take that one) is all that I said to him not thinking that he already knew it. I remembered him all day long and till my stay in Amritsar I was reminded of him whenever I went past the bus station. He might be somewhere now and probably I will forget him soon.

10 comments:

Mampi said...

...and he has probably forgiven you already.
A very empathetic pen portrait-the first from you. Write more often.

Balvinder Singh said...

Parry Bhaaji, tussi tey mainu jidaan Punjaab de pindaan vichon dee langdee bus vich hee bithaa dita. Aina realistic description keeta hai apnee journey da tey us bandey da kee us di tasveer akhaan agey aa gayee. Well done and keep it up.

How do we know said...

such a warm post!! beautiful!

PARRY said...

Mampi : Yes infact it seems he wasn't even angry at me. But yes he was cool.

Balvinder : Well being my first visit to punjab towns it was an eye opener. Thanks.

HDWK : Thanks for visiting again.

Reflections said...

That was interesting....u described it very well:-)). Infact u described it so well that if I ever met the old Sikh man anywhere, I'll recognise him:-D.

PARRY said...

Reflections : But I don't know what my reaction will be if I ever meet him. I am not prepared.

~nm said...

I was spellbound after I was done reading. That old man was a "swabhimani" (Couldn't get the right word in English) and I can truly feel what guilt you felt when you realised because of you he has to go through so much trouble.

PARRY said...

nm : yes guilty as i am but i worry that the meomories of that incident are disappearing day by day. :(

Renu said...

very vivid description, i could visualise everythingso clearly.

Jasdeep said...

beatiful post.. ihave read it thrice.. :)

I am a villager, have enjoyed living there.. being with such people.. When i showed some pictures of village folks to an urban friend she said :
"Dekh kinna noor e saariaan de chehriaan te"

But i would not have been able observe as you observed the things.

nice portrait..