It is a scorching day in the month of June when even the shade provides no mercy. I am on board a local bus that is headed to my village, Jahangirpur which is fifty miles from the nearest city. The bus is filled to the brim with passengers, some of whom are standing in the aisle, keeping their balance by holding onto either a metal bar or hanging straps lining the roof. With every lurch, passengers sway alongside the bus.
Some passengers have chosen to slide their glass windows to let in the searing wind while others have chosen to shield themselves from it. The low cost of the bus ticket doesn’t cover for air conditioning. An elderly man takes out a water bottle and leisurely sips from it. His rugged brown face has seen many summers and this one is no different. He will bear it once more. Two seats away a crying infant hardly seems to be appeased by his mother’s futile efforts to calm him. After struggling for a few minutes he eventually settles down to suckle on his bottle.
The view from my window drifts in the form of a lazy river. Lush green fields, swamps with buffaloes quietly bathing and mud houses appear and then gradually disappear in the distance. Every now and then our bus gets chased by a group of half dressed little boys. Often the bravest of them runs the longest. Other children are just content to wave at the bus from a distance as though it is a friend that appears every day at the same time. I wave back at them reminiscing forgotten memories.
Suddenly the bus stops in the middle of the route and a young man brazenly boards the bus. No one bothers to ask who he is for it is obvious that he is a friend of the bus driver’s who needed a lift. Their primary concern seems to be reaching their destination on time. By now most water bottles have been emptied and lips parched. After another ten minutes of frolicking the bus finally arrives at Jahangirpur. The familiar sights infuse energy into sweaty, tired passengers who wave frantically at their waiting relatives. I look around and smile to myself; I am home.