This incident happened in my college days. In May 1972.
I was travelling on an overnight bus going on a long and inevitable journey. It was an ordinary bus full of people with all seats occupied and many people standing in the aisle. The hot and humid climate was an extra addition to the discomfort. I was having the student concession pass; therefore I was not entitled to seat reservation. Hence, I had no option but to stand uncomfortably in the crowded bus. Anyway, I had mentally prepared myself for this long, inevitable and treacherous journey.
The bus started its journey little late than scheduled. The people seated comfortably near the windows wore happy faces while looking at the outside world. The people seated near the aisle were cursing the standing persons who had no option but to occasionally lean on the seat corners. The air was hot and filled with strange unpleasant smells. Some people were trying to talk in loud voices in spite of the noise and din. The people who were standing had no option but to stare blankly at anything that is ahead of them.
Those were the days when gadgets like the mobile phones were not invented. However, some enthusiastic travellers in this bus had carried the small transistor radio with the futile hope that they would be able to hear some mundane music on the way.
After about two very long hours, I was already feeling exhausted and completely bored. I was trying to balance myself and shifting the body weight from one leg to other trying to bear the discomfort. I was also cursing these persons in the state transport bus office, who made the rule that the students who travel on the concession pass are not allowed to reserve the seat like other passengers.
Another long hour drenched in the noise and shaky rhythm of bus passed by.
I suddenly sensed a soft hand tapping my elbow asking for attention. I thought this person sitting in the aisle must be getting upset that my body is touching his shoulder. I turned around and looked at him with questioning glance. He was a middle-aged man with a kind smile on his face looking up at me. It looked like he was travelling alone and getting bored in spite of having a seat to sit on.
He stood up and whispered me that I can take his seat for few minutes. I was very pleasantly surprised and immediately sat down without wasting a second. My entire body relived a sigh.
Now, this person was happily standing in my place and looking around in amusement.
Another 20 minutes passed and I tapped on his elbow. I stood up and signalled him to take his seat. This time the magic happened. One other person who was seating near the window on the other side was watching us. He spontaneously stood up and offered his seat to another standing man.
The chain reaction had started. Suddenly this game of sharing spread around and almost all standing people got relief for few minutes by rotation. Some similarly minded persons formed a group and started talking to each other while exchanging the seats. It went on for the rest of the journey. By the end of this long journey, all the people were sharing jokes and some actually started to sing. More people joined in the chorus. Needless to say, the rest of the journey became quite enjoyable.
Finally, the bus stopped in the early morning at the destination. The group quickly dispersed in the crowded final bus stop.
Now, when I remember this experience which has stayed with me after so many years, I think it is very important to know that we all can share the burden and help the co-passengers in our journey of LIFE.
By Samarth member, Shri Jagdish Joshi