Two Minutes of Paradise
The bus did a one chug and a two chug, struggled for a third chug before finally coming to a complete halt, halfway up a hill. Pessimists would see it as down a hill backwards. The unscheduled stoppage in a quiet, secluded area compelled most of the passengers to uncoil in their seats from slumber position to seating upright. There was a brief moment of quietness until about the time Gaitlin does the 100m sprint, when it seemed that everyone wanted to have a say, especially because by then panic had begun to brew water, electricity, gas, oil, foodstuff and now this bus? The obvious subject matter was on how to get the bus going.
As it turned out there was a fool minister on board and because of the tenor of his voice he took the bus first (read floor).
'I think we should form a committee to look into this problem of a very serious nature. Under the able leadership of my able leader when the country is able to move at a cable speed, such conking out of a mere bus is totally unacceptable, aaaaaand I smell a conspiracy to kill me', he said while repeatedly moving his right arm like the piston of a steam engine.
There was a buzz in the bus and most of the passengers raised a fuss in unison, 'We are all members of this or that committee and we cannot give time for another committee, buss!'
Seeing the situation was turning embarrassing, a Secretary on board took it upon himself to save the blushes. He started talking, rubbing his hand as if he was using soap and water, 'Sir Mohodoy is right, a committee is the only solution, but I believe it can be formed after another hour or so; in fact, even after the bus starts because there is time shortage, …'
An SSC candidate squeaked from one of the rear seats, 'Should it not be shortage of time?'
'Keep quiet', hushes a lady's voice, 'that's your dad'.
Just then a rush of professionals from among the passengers made their respective cases. An electrical engineer sought permission to check the vehicle's electronics, an architect suggested that the driver's seat had the wrong ergonomics, a civil engineer knocked a few times on the body of the bus when a sleeping child got up only to add to the cacophony, and a chemical engineer opined 'perhaps the petrol has been emulsified...' They were all silenced by the farmer who simply said, 'This bus runs on cng'.
'No wonder the ac was giving us trouble', said a mechanical engineer who had been cuddled under a blanket till then. 'And depending on the gauge of the container we may be blown apart…'
'I smell conspiracy,' a tenor voice said.
This was the cue for the director of the film 'Shawr-o-jantro' to put forward his idea. The mechanical engineer perked up when he heard jantro but went back to sleep. Looking sideways to offer his best profile, index finger on his nose, the thumb on his right cheek, the rest on his left, the director said, 'Let us hire a helicopter and lift the damn thing up. I would use six cameras…'
A finger-happy university student interrupted him, 'No mobile phone is working here. How will you call King Kong?'
'What a chweet movie?' a girl who had dyed her hair blonde sighed.
A rippling snigger along the length of the bus was cut short by a big howl. Someone began to cry aloud. It was a mobile company guy. He was almost hysteric as he kept on sobbing 'why, why, why'. People got concerned and asked, 'Why what?' Wiping his nose with the back of his palm, he blubbered, 'Oh! Why is this area not in the network? We could have earned so much!'
Another man joined him and was crying even louder, 'Oh why, why the whole of Bangladesh is not declared the hill tracts, the roads are that much undulating?'
'Why is that? Why is that?' (Chorus) The director was waving a wand.
'Then we would not have to receive so much junk sms, make so many faltoo calls.'
Seeing that the situation was becoming hopeless, a hefty man with large hairy arms took the floor, 'Actually I am a ship-breaker…'
A housewife cooling herself with the waft of her hand was quick to respond, 'Please don't even think about it. My child is still sleeping'.
A grocery (moody) shopkeeper was murmuring, 'If this continues, if communication breaks up like this, added to oil price, dollar rate, vat fat, I have to increase the price of essentials even further…' It was difficult to make out whether he was frustrated or optimistic.
An elderly person queried of the man, 'Are not essentials transported by trucks?'
Moody shopkeeper: 'Murubbi je kee kawn? Is it enough for only the essentials to reach the market? If we can't reach our shops the essentials are as good as two pies peanuts'.
Elderly: 'How else will the price rise?'
A 10-year old corrected him, 'Peanuts are now ten paisa per piece, haali ponchash paisa'.
Money talk awoke a real estate businessman and he made a concrete suggestion, 'Let's sell this bus and buy another cheaper working one, invest the extra money in land, launch a limited company, float shares…'
The peanut child punched the air and shouted, 'Yippee! Driver uncle has come back'.
All eyes were on the driver who was nonchalant about all the hue and cry. He just showed his little finger and declared, 'For you guys a man can't even have two minutes of his private paradise in this country'.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006