The journey began with a lot of enthusiasm. Travellers revved up their memories and exercised their musical abilities. A few also decided to do a jig whenever possible. Slowly, the bus moved out of the city limits and the highway. The rickety vehicle started weaving its way through the winding mountain paths.
Mother Nature had decked herself up in breathtakingly beautiful shades of green and brown. Other colours speckled over her contours. I, for one, did not take my eyes off the picturesque scenery. Unfortunately, not all of them in the bus could enjoy the scenic beauty that enveloped us. Some of them were catching up on their sleep. Some others were reeling under motion sickness.
After a while, all of us got used to the sounds of fellow passengers throwing up into plastic bags. This would be invariably followed by a friend or a family member of the sick person spraying some deodorant to freshen up the bus. It was construed and accepted as their way of saying sorry.
While this was activity was taking pl-ace like clockwork, a ten-year-old threw up right on the aisle of the bus without warning. All of us clucked and twitched almost at the same time. The thought of another four hours in the bus reeking with the stench of vomit was too much to put up with. The adults who accompanied the child attended to her first. Only then, they thought it fit to throw some sheets of paper on the gooey mess and blissfully look the other way.
People who walked back and forth in the moving vehicle tried to carefully avoid the mess. Yet, most failed in this endeavour, because of the width of muddle. As a result, the aisle turned squalid. The commuters had a complaint on the lips and noses were up in the air.
Suddenly, Manoharji – our cook cum guide – bade the driver to stop the bus. He picked up two buckets, alighted from the bus and went to the public tap amid the mountains. He came back with the water and poured the water down the aisle, washing the muck away. People who lifted their feet to avoid getting drenched, heaved a sigh of relief. All of us were vocal and liberal in our praise for our hero of the day.
When I wondered what made him do hands-on what we travellers did not even think about, I realised that he was not merely working for a living. Working selflessly was his second nature. He seemed to be the essence of the motto, ‘work is worship.’