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A day's reprieve from the monsoon, the dust not yet pervading the air, the skies showing a bit of the almost forgotten blue color, sun pleasantly warm. In a group of other commuters I stand waiting for a bus, which will take me to my quiet home, nestled among green trees and flowering gardens. As I wait a long time, I notice a pattern on the pavement:
etched in cement—
new four lane road
Climbing steps of the bus, pushing inside with men, women, children—all ages and sizes, some squeezed in threes on a bench meant for two, others standing in the aisle and jostling one another. A thump against my back from the huge backpack that Indian children haul every day to school makes me stagger.
five rupees fare—
stumbling foreign woman
given a seat
From pothole to pothole the bus rattles, standing passengers mercilessly tumbled around. I sit contented next to a mother feeding a baby that she holds close to her breast. In the little face, enormous brown eyes, picture pretty, watch my pen intently, the pink mouth fast emptying the bottle.
purple and earth brown—
spilled white milk
Now a slim woman gets on, clutching large plastic shopping bags. She gives a sigh of relief at getting a seat, fusses arranging packages on her knees and by her sandaled feet. An overfilled bag comes open and two gaily-painted boxes roll towards me. I retrieve them for her, putting aside my note-taking. She smiles her thanks.
I notice new heavy clouds darkening the sky, and the familiar landscape outside the bus windows announces my stop approaching. Thoughts of journeys, cursory encounters, diversified destinations, of leaving and returning. First drops of rain.
on an scrunched envelope—