Cycle of life

The young woman's place would possibly be taken up by the little girl.

In my early days I rarely travelled by bus, having got my own cycle in school and a 2-wheeler in college.

It was only when I started working that I began to use public transport owing to my workplace far from home. Using the bus was quite enjoyable as it broke the monotony of travelling with the same person everyday. You get to see different people and see hues and colours of life in the co-passengers who come from different walks of life and follow different lifestyles. I utilise this quiet time amidst a noisy crowd to do a bit of retrospecting and introspecting.

On a regular weekday, I happened to ride a bus and occupied a seat next to the window. After me an elderly lady climbed on to the bus and briskly took the empty seat in front of me. She looked genial and presentable with a lock of fresh jasmine flowers adorning her hair and lips that were ready to break into a smile if her gaze was reciprocated.

She had a bronze face that was witness to the long hours she had spent working in the sun and the gleam in her eyes came from wisdom she had gleaned from the hard lessons life had taught her. She engaged in some lively banter with the conductor about the weather and politicians whilst purchasing the ticket. As the chitchat with the conductor continued, her easy demeanor made it comfortable for people around her to join the conversation and give their expert opinions. 

Then she beckoned to a little girl with plaits tied up in red ribbon, who was clinging to the saree of her mother. Unable to balance herself the little girl was swaying to the heaves and bumps of the bus.The lady offered her a seat on the lap much to her mother’s relief.

 After a while a smart young lady with a bob dressed in western slacks and a smart silk blouse hopped on to the bus and took the empty seat next to the old lady. No sooner did she sit down than did she set up her mini office space on her lap. Her laptop on the lap, bluetooth rigged to the ears, she tapped away at the keyboard at the same time as attending a call on the phone. When the conductor came she flashed her bus pass and got back to what she was doing. She had no time to look up or engage in loose talk.

As I looked at these two people who were opposite in most ways, an amusing thought crossed my mind. In another 30 years, if I were riding the same bus with the same co-passengers, there would be a couple of changes. The old woman would have long passed on. In her place the young woman having grown old herself and retired from work, would have all the time in the world, busy chatting up the co-passengers and the conductor alike. And the young woman’s place would possibly be taken up by the the no- longer- little girl sans the red ribbon plaits. Would that be what they call the cycle of life?

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