I am Aditi Pandey a PG student of Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan. I got an opportunity to be a participant of India International Science Festival (IISF) 2018 in Lucknow from 7th – 8th of October 2018.
On my way back to Jaipur, Rajasthan, I had to choose the unwanted journey by bus at 7:30 pm named Multi-Axle Scania Seater AC bus on 8th of October from Alambagh. It just had one co-passenger with me. The bus had four staff who had a mutual understanding of when they had to ride the bus or be at the back seat. They all were men and calculating the whole scenario, I knew I was taking a huge risk with me but I had to take that bus at any cost. By the time I was hoping for few women to appear so that I could feel the sense security but opposite happened and two men entered the bus. The staff showed their first sweet gesture and asked me what should be done as even after half an hour of wait the bus wasn’t even half filled. So, then the bus departed at 8 pm approx due to less passenger issue we were in total 8 people, me and 7 men including age groups of young, middle and old. After sometimes, few women had also taken the bus but left quickly at Kanpur Bus station. I still had full night journey left with terror inside me.
That time the conductor named Pradeep (I came to know while the staff was talking among themselves) advice us to be comfortable and use the single seat. I was sitting on the second seat of door side at that time. I was tired so I slept. It was 12:30 am at midnight when the bus stopped at a dhaba and we were asked to have our dinner. I had my dinner and was about to leave that dhaba bench when the staff of the bus called me and told me to use the seat just behind the driver’s seat. The kind gesture of them made me feel enough of being secured for more left hours of journey.
We came back to the bus and this time I was more comfortable and I went to sleep. It was 3:30 am in the early morning when the bus entered Agra. All the co-passengers had left the bus as their destination arrived. Now I was the only person as a passenger on that bus with 4 staff members. I had no clue of their destination otherwise, I would have had dropped the idea of travelling by that bus. I was terrified by every foot going straight to the door of the bus. I asked one of them “Am I the only one left in this huge bus?”. The answer was yes and I was just like NOW WHAT?.
The Punjabi driver Mr Rajender Gella (I just heard the name, I might be wrong with spelling) asked me if I wanted to use the loo of which I replied yes. For my security concern, he came along with me to the loo of bus stand and was standing outside until I was inside. The other member of the staff brought 5 cups of tea, four for themselves and one for me. They offered me the cup which I took and didn’t taste it initially out of fear it might contain wrong things. After everyone had their few sips the Sardar ji in a very polite manner told me ” Pilo beta pilo”. I was scared which was visible from my face so they waited there for half an hour instead of 10 mins so that I could find co-passengers for the journey that was left. The time we were waiting they were talking to me so that I can’t be afraid by the situation I was in. They were asking me about my hometown, my studies, my being at Lucknow etc. Honestly from that moment, I was completely comfortable with the situation I was in. Though we waited for half an hour no one came to take the bus and finally, they asked me “Ab Kya Kiya Jaye beta.” I know it was approx 4 am and so I told them to start the journey again. When the bus started they asked me to do a favour, if police in case ask me of just being a single passenger in this bus, I will say that there is an exam I got to take in Jaipur.
For the left 3-4 hours after Agra, I was very overwhelmed with whatever I was going through. My whole perception was changing. They were talking to me, being funny around me, telling me jokes etc just so that I would not feel even a bit of insecure with my earlier calculation of scenario.
I reached Jaipur safely and probably with one of my best memories. For their great behaviour, I asked a photo with them in front of the bus of which I was scared to death earlier.
Story By – Aditi Pandey
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