A week ago I found myself in a bit of a pickle – I had boarded a bus late in the night in Bengaluru despite the fact that I had no money on me. It was foolish and irresponsible on my part. And the entire ordeal might have been embarrassing, and potentially even dangerous, had it not been for the kindness shown towards me by the bus conductor.
I know I should have double-checked my bag before boarding the bus but I genuinely thought I was carrying the money required to pay for my ticket home. Well past 10pm, I was exhausted and it never crossed my mind that I would be penniless (or rather, rupeeless).
There is nothing more embarrassing than the moment when you realise you can’t afford something you have already helped yourself to, and it is even more so when it happens in public.
As I frantically searched every corner of my bag, I was hit with the realisation that I didn’t have a paisa on me.
At this point, I decided to just to come clean to the conductor and get off the bus immediately. But I was also nervous – the locality that we were passing by at that moment is not known to be very safe at night, especially for women. I was mentally trying to come up with a solution when the conductor came and stood right next to me.
“You don’t have the money on you, do you?” he asked.
I shook my head, apologised and told him I would leave as soon as possible. He looked at me for a few seconds and then quietly tore off a ticket and thrust it into my hands.
I was stunned. This wasn’t the first time I had experienced kindness in the hands of strangers, but no one before this had helped me out financially, so to speak (even Rs 14 feels like a lot when you don’t have anything). I sputtered and stammered at the conductor and told him that I would figure something out, but he really didn’t have to give me anything for free.
He just smiled and insisted that I should get off the bus only when I reached home. And then he walked to another section of the bus.
While leaving, I asked him if I could take his picture, he declined. I asked him if I could at least get his name. He declined that as well. He told me all of that was not important. He said that I shouldn’t make a big deal out of what he had done for me and that it was something anyone in his position might have done. I am not so sure that is the case.
It’s been a week since the incident and I have thought a lot about that moment when the conductor could have (rightly) thrown me out of the bus but chose not to. I am in deep debt to this gentleman who showed me the generosity of the human spirit. Often times we get caught up in the proverbial rat race and forget to stop and appreciate humanity that surrounds us.
So, I want to thank that nameless bus conductor for teaching me that there is no fixed time or place to be kind to someone.
Oh and I also learnt to make sure that I was definitely carrying change the next time I left my house!
Author – Aishwariya Subramanian