Taken For A Ride

 

Part 3

 

Life is never at stand-still. More so (should it be ‘less so’?) on a bus with a bustle. While I was stressed with the efforts of assessing the threat on-hand and plotting counter-strategies, the bus had dutifully taken in and discharged passengers over a few stops.  The standees had progressed forward and the bus-conductor towards the rear (a stellar example of how progress in life is all relative). Presently the inevitable had happened – the conductor and the man had met in the middle. I was less than accurate in my narration – it was actually a tri-partite meeting with the conductor, the man and the lady in red sari putting their heads together. I was speculating on what could be the topic of conversation among such an odd lot. A flurry of activities ensued. The man’s wallet was out as was the lady’s purse, carrying bags were rummaged, and the inquisitive children were rudely pushed out – all signs of a frenetic search. Amidst the melee I thought I saw some hands pointing at me and didn’t think much of it. And quickly the commotion ceased indicating perhaps they had found what they were looking for. The purpose of the search remained unclear to me since I didn’t see anything changing hands. Their meeting concluded, both the parties now resumed their progress. Both the parties? Wasn’t the meeting tri-partite? Ah, that was the nub of the matter – the interactions between the man and the lady showed a degree of familiarity above casual. Now throw in a couple of children and what did one get? It was plain as the nose – they were man and wife and the children theirs. Decidedly a bi-partite meeting it was between the couple and the conductor. 

 

It struck me as particularly strange. Professionals were known to operate in cahoots with mates; but in the company of wife and children? The odds were known to be higher than aliens smooth-landing at the Eden Gardens. So it had all been paranoia. I was awash with relief. It was like being spared by one of those Bay-Of-Bengal brewed storms changing its mind and course. Defenses could now be dismantled, the troops could be returned to their barracks, etc. etc.

 

Before long, I was overtaken by a feeling of shame and guilt mixed in equal proportion. I had wronged the man – an apology was in order. But he wouldn’t understand where I was coming from. I had to figure that one out.  

 

With normalcy restored, I turned my back on the length of the bus and faced the front for a change of scene. My mind was back to the matter of the invitation cards and the list. I pulled out from the cloth bag a printed card and compared it with the specimen card put together initially by the printer for costing my order. Right off the bat I could see the printed card shorter by half-an-inch on all sides. The glitter stripes and patches on the face-cover were smaller. The wax-paper did not stretch all the way to the full size of the card. The printer had cut corners and much more. The deal for extra cards was no deal at all, so it appeared now. I was harsh on myself for having been remiss in checking it out at the printer’s while taking delivery of the cards. At that very moment, I swore to myself that with this the printer had kissed away his chances of obtaining a good reference from me. Further, I was contemplating on a proposal to declare him as persona-non-grata for business with the residents of the entire Eleventh Road, Chembur.

   

The matter of the printer and the cards was thus disposed off satisfactorily. Before I could turn my mind to other pressing issues in regard to my daughter’s wedding, I felt a tap on my shoulders and heard someone calling me ‘Uncle’. I turned around to see who this hitherto-unknown nephew was.

 

(To be contd.)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: