It was her umpteenth shift in that
cramped bus on a Monday morning. She had hoped to avoid the digging arms and
elbows. But to no avail. Should she try again? The person sharing the seat was
already stealing stares at her. She still had one and a half hour of commute. He
would probably get off at the next stop or the one next to it. Or he could
move to another place, if he really could. Yeah, she would give it a try. Another
uneasy shift. Now, the weight, arms, elbows and eyes fell on her back. She
could survive it.
She risked one more movement, opening
the rusted window. The cold, crisp, early October, morning air greeted her, a pleasant
contrast to the stifling odors of the bus. She finally, settled cozily and tried
to lose herself in the contours of the hills falling and rising, the waters breaking forcefully at the sands and stones.
Sometimes, the banks were all
sand. There were many footprints dug into the soft damp sands. She imagined all
kinds of stories behind them. Sometimes, the banks were more stone - grayish
whitish, smoothened by the perpetual water tides. The terrain there looked rocky,
harsh and uneven.
It was on one such rocky bank,
she saw two pair of feet moving with caution – one hardened with age, the other
still young and soft. She saw the feet, and then she saw the hands, clasped in
a tight but careful grip. They wore dirty denims folded up to knees, and dirty
vests with holes. Both carried fishing nets in their free hand, their faces hidden from her view. They reached the knee deep water, parted hands, distanced
and positioned themselves and threw their nets in - the larger net going out first
and forcefully; then, taking its cue, the smaller one followed.
The view shifted. The hills and the river receded
to the background and the town came to the front.