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BLOG - ER Ramachandran

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Moving Poignancy

The BTS City Buses made their appearance in Bangalore only in the Mid Fifties. Till that time, the only mode of transport for common man was walking, called -Nataraja Service and Jataka Gaadi, a cart driven by horse power. Most of State Govt. employees would walk it out to Taluk office and Atahara Katcheri with Mysore Peta on their heads and wearing their marriage coat over Kachhe Panche! Few people rode cycles and fewer who wore Kachhes, because of the fear of unfolding risk! Auto Rickshaw, the word as well as the contraption was yet to make its appearance.

My mother and I used to take a Jataka to get our dog Raju treated at the Government veterinary Hospital in Mysore Road. Since Raju had bruised his leg, the wound had to be dressed on alternate days till it healed. We would start our journey at 10 in the morning in Aslam’s Jataka from Uttaradhi Mutt Road, Shankarapuram and his horse Mehboob would gallop to the hospital in about 15 minutes. We would sit on a gunny cloth spread over Mehboob’s lunch- tender grass spread along the cart’s area. Aslam would ask us to sit further up all the time as he hurrahed Mehboob with his whip to run faster meanwhile shouting at the pedestrians and cyclists to make way for his Chariot!

This became a routine every alternate day for a week. After coming back from the Hospital, I would feed some fresh grass to Mehboob as some kind of thanksgiving. Gradually, Raju’s leg started healing.

In one of the visits, as we were approaching Mysore Road, a BTS bus stopped in front of the cart right on the middle of the road. As the driver leapt out of the bus, Mehboob groaned. The tearful driver embraced Mehboob, who started licking his hands. Wiping his tears away, the driver took out some fresh grass and fed it to Mehboob and jumped back in to the driver’s seat and drove off.

We were as stunned as must have been the passengers in the bus and the bystanders.

As we resumed our journey, Aslam explained; In order to raise whatever he could get for treatment of his polio-stricken child, the bus driver had to sell off his Jataka business. From then on, whenever he met Mehboob in the traffic, he would jump off the bus to hug his Beta , invariably with tears, as he did now.
…………… 20 November’07