Yesterday night after I got over with my dinner I found I was feeling a bit chilly. While going through the warm clothes suddenly my eyes fell upon a shawl. I took it in my hands and then recalled……..
It was then late February and I was leaving for my school. “Put on your sweater Chhote! The weather is still little cold. Listen to me” – Maasa shouted from behind, almost running as I hurried outside with a heavy school bag on my shoulders.
“Maasa, I don’t need it. Summers have approached and it’s so hot. Please” – I waved my hand while running off towards the main road to catch my bus.
I was then studying in 8th class. My school was about 16kms away from my village. I used to take a Government Roadways bus daily for my to and fro journey to the school which would take about an hour to reach.
Winters were receding but not gone yet, hence Maasa was always asking me to don a sweater and a muffler. But me, I felt wearing a full sleeves shirt in that weather was more than enough!!!
The bus started to drag and I caught it just in time. I looked anxiously at the vacant seats and grabbed a window one. The glass of window was broken but it didn’t make a difference to me. I settled down and looked around. There were very few passengers and almost all of them were daily travelers. It was 6:30AM and a layer of fog could be seen far away. I opened a book and tried to read but found it difficult in the moving bus, as always. The bus was now running at full speed and I felt a stream of cold air on my face. I extended my hand to close the window but drew it back quickly realizing that the glass of window was broken. Now I could sense the cold and cuddled myself. After a while, the air turned chilly, piercing into my bones and the broken window was not helping!! I decided to change my seat but found all now occupied. Shivering started while I tried hard to minimize the chattering of my teeth.
And then I heard a loud voice!!! An old man was pointing towards me and saying “Why are you not wearing any sweater? You new generation boys are hopeless. You don’t listen to your parents, you don’t listen to teachers. You feel that wrapping a muffler around your face is old-fashioned and stupid. Every sane thing from your elders looks a lecture to you. Movies and cricket – that is all you people care about. No discipline, no proper food and sleep timings, nothing”. I just looked at him dumbly!!!
“Take this” – the old man came closer to me and handed over a woolen shawl. Infact, he unwrapped the shawl, covered me with it and sat back on his seat. I could not understand how to react and slowly I too slipped on to my seat. I closed my eyes and felt the warmth of the shawl.
Suddenly I woke up hearing shouts from the bus conductor asking me to get up as school was near. I rubbed my eyes, holding the shawl tightly to my body. Then I turned back and found that the old man was not there. I looked around but he was nowhere in the bus. The conductor told me that the old man got out at the previous bus-stop while I was asleep.
And today with the same shawl wrapped around me, I am now feeling warm, even inside my heart!!!!!