Jani & The Thin Guy – The Bus

It was past noon, the sun was up, broadcasting its light and heat but nobody had the courage to look up and locate it. It wasn’t necessary, for the sun was playing the role of a flame thrower that day, well that had generally been the everyday story. The thin guy walked towards the bus stop and walked right into the waiting shed without looking up only to realize there was no waiting shed there anymore. A big construction truck of some sort grunted as it appeared out of the corner of the street. Another old rusty truck that looked like a prehistoric predator, famished deliberately to the point where it had lost all calm, and was now on an instinctive destructive mode, suddenly squeaked that fishtailed into a roar that generated some seismic activity underneath the ground. The thin guy now put a hand on his nose as he had explored why there was a little more dust around than usual. The shed was gone and there were long deep pits in the side of the road dug out for some kind of supposed welfare project. He had ran after the last bus as he saw it gain momentum and disappear in front of him and he wasn’t just fast enough to hold on to the railing on the back. He knew he had to wait another half an hour for the next bus. With one of his hand on his nose and the other one held over his forehead he looked around for a shade and gave up immediately as all of the little shade islands were already occupied with students. His nicely polished not-so-expensive formal boots were now covered in dust, he stood over one of the bricks on the road. Half of the people on the so called bus stop were students awaiting their buses. A major university was ten kilometers away and paying for the local transport wasn’t just worth it. It was costly and it took ages due to so many stops in between. The thin guy stood there missing and catching his train of thought. Thoughts with no particular directions but completely interwoven. Scalar thoughts. He was used to it so he began to graze on them. He was starring into nothing in particular and everything was a blur. He got rid of the blur every now and then and it came back every time he caught another train. He took out a single cigarette from his pocket and lit it.

A commotion distracted him, a fairly fancy clad young girl was having some trouble breathing. She was escorted to a shade which was set in place by a middle aged man selling a variant of lemonade. She sat on his chair as some more people gathered around. The owner of the lemonade cart groped for something on the upper compartment of the cart and grabbed out a finer quality glass. Took a handful of crushed ice from a container and readied a chilled glass of lemonade and offered it to the girl. She took it and thanked the man, and only two or perhaps three short sips of the lemonade got her back to her feet. She was heard saying she was unable to breath in the dust plus the heat was troubling her and she thought she would pass out. The thin guy almost went back to his blur as the fancy clad girl swiftly walked away from his view, revealing ever more swiftly an old man of around seventy sitting on the floor. His mouth opened, his cheeks pointy like spears, he had millions of wrinkles on his face and his eye lids dropped down like shutters but only in a slow motion every now and then. The thin guy scanned the vicinity and concluded that the old man was truly invisible! The thin guy stood there for a few more minutes, perhaps solely contemplating buying the old man a glass of lemonade. It did not need to be in the fancier glasses, the regular one would do, he thought to himself. But then he looked around and realized there were many seventy year olds out there. How many glasses could he afford? A loud honk startled him as the bus arrived at the stop, everybody started running towards the bus to find a seat. It was always like that, even if the bus was empty, and the stop too, even if there were only three guys waiting at the stop. They still ran towards the bus. “Sometimes we just don’t bother thinking, we are so encumbered with  the demands that our life makes we just know that  our mechanical reactions are far less exhausting.” he thought to himself as he stepped onto the bus.

Jani had his seat reserved, he had his books sitting on the seat next to him and he was looking around extending his neck like a giraffe. The thin guy made it to the seat and sat down.

The populace of the bus was on the verge of mass suffocation as each member occupying the seat next to the window struggled to shut it and an air of heat and dust filled the wheeled container, literally. The populace inside the bus was obviously a subset of the populace of the city, so quite naturally they were all fairly used to the situation and very quickly overcame their grimaces and coughs.

“Yar did our city break some kind of a record today? Seriously tell me it did.” Jani exclaimed, being somewhere between rhetorical and not.

“I believe it did too” the thin guy mumbled while wiping the sweat with his sleeve, and added “You know Jani what’s even more interesting than our roasting city breaking records or possibly poor meteorological thermometers?” and continued after a briefest possible pause, “the fact that it is hotter for some people than it is for others”.

“Ground breaking! Where do you learn these astonishing facts?” Replied Jani as he pulled the sliding window open. The bus had receded the construction stricken area now and green fields of mango trees were visible on both sides of the road.

“You know man it’s simple, Natural Selection, Survival of the fittest. Species either learn to cope with their environment or die. Regarding your amazing query, or was it a revelation? Anyway yes regarding what you said about how some people experience the effects of the weather differently from others is due to their inability to adapt, and these, I might add shall be the individuals that shall cease to exist as they are only treading a tight rope over an abyss called “weakness”. Man, I could kill for a glass of Lassi right now you know” Jani sat back in his seat with a jerk.

“Yes, I’m glad you brought that up” Said the thin guy.

“What, Lassi?” inquired Jani.

“No, Weakness of a species. But yes, Lassi too.”

“Anyway, my question is, how come that sub-group of species which is apparently physically superior to another sub-group of species is finding it hard to survive with each passing day.” Added the thin guy.

Jani gave the thin guy an inquisitive look with the aid of raised eyebrows and a clueless face. The thin guy correctly interpreted the gesture and knew he had to explain more.

“You see people living a simple lifestyle are generally the ones subjected to harsher circumstances. It is strange that ‘simple’ is the new ‘harsh’. Okay I acknowledge that it has always been tougher living in villages or say, in poverty, but these two had never been synonyms before just like ‘harsh’ and ‘simple’. I suspect the whole premise raises a contradiction. The underprivileged are forced to work harder, they suffer through harsher weather conditions, tougher psychological traumas, challenging terrain to reside into and so forth. All of this has rendered this class much more physically enduring, and yet they are the ones fighting a battle for survival every day. It doesn’t make sense to me. A rich, pampered, her-royal-highness type of a girl cannot endure the heat out in the open and yet her survival through life is considerably easier and peaceful.”

The thin guy continued, “Over large epochs of time this privileged race should have already started to show signs of decay. These should be the ones fighting a battle for survival. It is a shame that us humans, in our infinite cockiness, have tinkered with nature for so long now that we have started to believe we can mould it to our will. Perhaps we can, perhaps we have, but at the cost of disturbing global equilibrium. Nature can be tamed for an extended period of time only and only if justice is the guiding criteria.”

“So you are suggesting only physical survivability must be taken into consideration whilst determining who survives as a species and who doesn’t? What happens to cognitive abilities and intellectual evolution? Don’t these factors play a part in the survival quest?” asked Jani, this time rather seriously.

“They do indeed. That is precisely why the physically superior must be kept dumb. That is precisely why the feudal cannot let the peasants educate themselves. In general, that is precisely how a mahout goes about doing his business with such ease. The battle that I am referring to is not between different species, but it’s a battle of survival within the same. Let’s take into consideration the Group Selection theory that claims that the survival is not an individual struggle but it takes place at the group level. The Selfish Gene is not the unit of selection but there are group dynamics at work that share altruistic traits rather than selfish ones. The weaker individual within the group chooses to sacrifice for the survival of the group. What if even that has changed? What if superior intellect has contrived a subgroup that does not choose to sacrifice itself but is forced to do so? The fitness of one sub group depends upon the forced sacrifice of the other. It is difficult for the physically weak to compound strength that has been lacking for ages due to their gradual aversion to the natural hardships of life. In addition to that, it is the fear of being deprived of the carefully constructed artificial worlds that keeps them on the edge, which in turn intensifies the forced sacrificial ritual.”

“Wait wait, so if this oppressing sub-group cannot quicken their adapting process and therefore must continue shoving their knees in the faces of the downtrodden , how can the downtrodden , at once, give up their tendency to remain slaves?” Interrupted Jani.

“Because they can! That’s the beauty of the human mind. It can be impossibly difficult to regenerate youth, heal wounds quicker, turn grey hair back to black, re-vitalize attenuated muscles but it only takes a blink of an eye, a snap of the fingers to realize consciousness, to surmount the mount slavery, to see beyond the prevarications, to see beyond the lies. It only takes realization, a moment of realization. It is therefore, in my humble opinion, easier for the physically stronger to get mentally stronger than it is for the physically weaker to get physically stronger. The ones already going through hell cannot be intimidated by the chastisement awaiting them in hell. The desire to obtain a luxury is less intense than the fear of losing one.” The thin guy concluded while sitting back in his seat.

The bus decelerated as it approached the final stop before it reached the University. A couple of students plus an old couple with an eleven or twelve year old kid ascended the vehicle which was as packed as it could get. Both parents of the kid looked older than their ages, carrying large bags made out of sheets of cloth. The kid had a textbook in his hand and he was leaning against his mother reading through the pages, memorizing the lessons. The bus conductor told the father he could only travel as far as the school at the University gate and then he must get off because it is not a public transport. Jani and the thin guy stood up and asked the couple and the kid to sit in their seats. The couple first declined and said thank you but eventually sat down in the seats. The thin guy smiled and said, “Jani we can at least take them as far as the school right?”

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  1. borborygmi Reply

    Thin guy talks about class-differences prevalent in our society.A high-born faints and gets compassionate treatment from low-borns as if the high-born’s life is more valuable than a low-born.A beggerly man of seventy could drop dead without half as much attention.Man-made distinctions of class run deep.A Brahman and a shudder are born equal.But somewhere along the way each accepts,without any questions, the established doctrines : Brahman’s life is more value able than that of a shudder ; Brahman has right to respect and a shudder is suposed to make himself small,unheard,unseen.Education is a great leveler.It brings all humans at the same starting line and gives them an opportunity to work their way up to respect,better lifestyle and prove their worth to society.The thin guy feels for the under-privileged n suggests empowering the low class with education n awareness.

    Exposure to harshness of nature (blazing sun) makes humans more compassionate towards each other ( hawker offering drink to the girl ; jani n thin guy offering seats to a couple).

    I always find waiting at a bus stop an interesting experience.You get to watch people as if from a vantage point.A man in Honda City with an air of indifference n pride ; a man on a bike with stooping shoulders and grimace as if apologizing for taking up even a small part of the road.To a PK,these men look alike but there are gross differences in their worth simply based on the amount of money they have.*face palm*

    Education is great leveler.As long as you’re a student,you feel an equal to all class fellows depending on your academics.But after graduation,class differences kick in.A student with Richie rich parents will go abroad which further improves his status, a beautiful girl will earn a rich husband climbing up on the social ladder,the issue of an influencial family will have it easy in the job market owing to his references.It’s ignorant to deny class difference.It exists as surely as the earth beneath my feet…

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