The Journey Bus

It is raining outside. Inside it is dark. Eyes are shut. Some ears are glued to earphones. Others are dead to the world. Legs are stretched out in the aisle. The bus is falling. Like a ball on a spiral staircase. Hill roads have that kind of effect on the mind.

A flash of lightning, briefly blinds those inside the bus. It also splits the bus into two. Two complete buses. With two identical sets of passengers.

It’s almost as if the lightning has made a photocopy of the bus.

The buses enter a tunnel. The other bus looks and feels the same except for its speed. I walk over to the driver’s cabin to ask him why the sudden hurry. I tap him on the shoulder. He turns around and I realise that the driver’s copy has rebelled.

I ask the driver who he is but he says nothing. He just smiles, a very sly and knowing smile. “Welcome to the journey,” he says.

He says ‘the Journey’ as if it is THE JOURNEY. I ask him how much longer for our stop and he says ‘very’ and starts to laugh. It’s a hollow and booming laughter. As if coming from the basement of an ancient tree trunk.

People in THE JOURNEY bus are ageing. The bus has had no stops. Some women now have children. The young have grown older. The kids have grown young.

There is an eerie bonhomie inside the bus. It’s like a family where everyone shares a secret but doesn’t know how secret it is.

The two buses are running parallel to each other. Like parallel lines that are supposed to meet at some vague infinity. In the original bus things haven’t changed.

It is still raining outside. Still dark inside. Eyes still are shut. Some ears are still glued to earphones. Others are still dead to the world. Legs are still stretched out in the aisle. But the bus is not falling. It’s steadied like a train on metallic tracks.

In the journey bus things have moved fast. Fast-forwarded in a way. The bus’s interior has become old and rundown. Reccine has started peeling off the seats. Curtains have become threadbare. Tinted glass panes have further darkened with caked slush. Everything, everyone has succumbed to time and velocity. Everyone, except the driver, who retains his tree-trunk hollowness.

The buses enter another tunnel. When they come out, they’re bathed in another flash of lightning. This time the flash solders the buses together. And me, a witness to THE JOURNEY, wakes up to find the bus as it was when the journey began.


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