[I wrote this story almost four years ago! I am posting the story as it was, four years ago. Please forgive me for any errors that might have crept in. Hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.]
Mr. Gupta was recollecting everything he had done since today morning. Everything was normal, well his car did not start and he was coerced into taking a bus, but it was not as abnormal as to what happened to him moments ago. These public buses disgusted him from the very core- the superfluous combination of the stench and jerking intimidated him. Nevertheless, today was one of those days when his car gave in and he had to board the bus. Suddenly the world around him subdued away and all he saw was two small children going to school with their parents- they had such innocent smiles, which would satiate anybody’s hearts; but still, something was wrong. Mr. Gupta’s co-passenger was snoring devilishly from the moment he got a seat. His heart palpitated and his forehead covered with beads of sweat; indeed, he was in grave trouble. The bus had stopped to pick up passengers and had regained its momentum when, unable to act or think, suddenly as if a fit had caught him, he convulsed with fear as he went about pushing people and almost jumping out of the moving bus.
Every morning Mr. Gupta kissed his wife goodbye before departing for his posh office in Jadavpur. But today, the day was different from the start; not that Gupta-ji felt travesty about anything but still. Morning witnessed him getting into a row with her wife, there was no kiss, the car had been problematic for the past few days and one day it was bound to end up like today. The damn thing would not take start, no matter how hard he tried or with how much force he kicked the accelerator. Reaching the bus stand was another ten minutes of physical abuse, his nice round beer belly complained but Gupta had no choice. Moments seemed like an eternity and during this time, Ashwin Gupta’s head was free-flowing, tangled up with inconspicuous thoughts; jumping from one to the next. Albeit the majority of this time he profoundly thought about making up to his wife- while he was weighing on the option of flowers and a pendant or a vacation to Digha, the bus arrived.
The bus was crowded and he like any other car dweller, first thought against going in the crowded bus because he knew he would melt like in hell, but again considering his biggest nemesis, time (which he ran short on), he had to take evasive action. Pushing around people was a habit that had left him seven years ago, but today he had to deliberately evoke the experience once again thanks to his defective Hyundai. It always amazed Ashwin how various types of people boarded the bus with different contrasts in characters when Mr. Gupta was in college, he would spend almost all of his bus journeys observing people. However, today, fate was not so kind to him and he had to stand straight for about twenty-five minutes until he finally got a seat, and that too not without fighting and two-three forceful pushes here and there. Near about twenty-five minutes of standing inside the ever jerking compartment had done their fair share of test on Ashwin’s calf muscles and he needed a seat, but the empty seat was the result of a handicapped getting down at his stop. The strain on Ashwin’s calf got the better of his conscience and he decided to sit on the handicap’s chair; if somebody comes, Ashwin always had the option of getting up.
Immediately afterwards, he felt a prick on his butt. As if something sharp had pierced him. Ignoring the pain, he tried to sitting comfortably stroking his butt vigorously on the tattered seat, pricked again. Cursing and swearing anybody, he could think of at that moment, Ashwin carefully slid his hands in the hope of finding the cause of his utter disturbance. Unexpectedly a needle landed on his hand and attached to it, visible, is a strip of paper with the words engraved on it, in red, “Welcome to our world, welcome to the world of HIV Aids” and beside it is the popular ribbon folded to form the Aids symbol.
Image courtesy- https://www.ranker.com/list/pin-prick-attacks-1990s/stefanie-hammond