There was an old man sitting in the front, right next to the driver. The person who arranged the bus (dealer) said he was sending this man to Dorji Dhen for free. I thought that was a pious act. But the price he paid for the free trip was huge.
I mentioned in the earlier article that the driver and the conductors played a hideous game and they just didn’t agree to start the journey. We were struck in Jaigon. The conductor and the drivers (There usually are three drivers since it is a long journey and they have to drive at night too) wanted two seats near the door emptied. And the man sitting there didn’t fight for his right. I guess he thought it was better to let them win so that we would all be on our way to Dorji Dhen. But this forced the old man sitting at the back to look for a seat. He was so comfortably sitting at the last seat, but when the man who apparently paid for the trip got the seat, he was forced to stand.
As he came to the front and stood behind the driver, I just couldn’t help wonder how he would make the long journey. I prayed something would come up and he would not face problem. I guess the seats at the back were already packed. The man who gave up his seat to the drivers and went to the back came in the front too and chose to stand. When we reached Birpara, he got out and bought a plastic chair. He placed it behind the driver and sat on it and thus made his journey. In a way I was glad that he made this sacrifice, but on the other hand, I didn’t like this weak decision. I know, we were all going on a pilgrimage and we were supposed to understand people better and be gentle but I guess, I wanted to be more righteous than weak.
As the winter’s early dark crept in and people’s voices fell silent, the old man started to sit on the floor. The next morning I woke up, I looked at him and saw that he didn’t look tired. I was happy he was a tough man. It was difficult to get good food on the way. I usually don’t mind as long as I get rice but this time, it didn’t seem so good. My husband told me that the old man ate his lunch and didn’t pay the hotelier. I was glad he had that guts. The hotelier ought to have got the money because he had no wrong done to him, but I think this is how we all pay. The old man obviously didn’t like the hassle that came up in the bus and thus someone had to pay for it.
On the last day at Dorji Dhen, this dealer was there too. He wore the same black shirt tucked in his faded blue jeans. He was a short man of around 28 or 30 with a shabby look. As we circumambulated the chorten, my husband smiled at him and shook hands. But inwardly, I thought, ‘he tricked us.’ I didn’t have any kind of malice or grudge but I honestly didn’t like the way he chose to make good money out of innocent people.