Friday, January 28, 2011

A Kochi bus driver meets his karma


By Shevlin Sebastian

(News item) Dubai: Kerala Transport Minister Jose Thettayil has appealed to Indian motorists to change their attitude to match those prevailing in the Gulf countries regarding traffic rules. He referred to the excessive use of horns, driving through red lights, and failing to comply with traffic regulations

When bus driver Suresh Nair of Kochi read this news item he vowed to change his errant ways. But his resolve was immediately put to the test when he drove out from the garage in the early morning. In the middle of the road was a brown Alsatian dog sitting on its paws and gazing peacefully at the world.

In normal circumstances, Suresh would have blasted the horn and even driven over the dog. But this time, he got down, and rubbed the dog’s back. Then he gently led the animal to the side.

When the day’s service began, immediately, a rival bus driver, with a smirk on his face, sped past him, horn blowing, and cut into Suresh’s path. Suresh had to brake suddenly. The conductor, Mani, said, “Race on. Overtake the idiot.” But in his new avatar, Suresh shook his head, and drove the bus at a jogging speed.

At a red light, Suresh waited patiently. When it turned yellow, he did not blow the horn. Instead, he only moved at the green light.

Mani shouted, “What’s happened to you? Are you constipated today?”

Suresh smiled beatifically at him.

A couple of hours went past. But Suresh could feel the effect of all this bottling up. His nose twitched, his lips started trembling and his hands and legs began shaking.

Still he continued to drive without blowing the horn or trying to mow down pedestrians. The shaking began to increase.

A passenger shouted, “Do you have Parkinson’s Disease?”

Suresh continued to smile, but soon the pressure got to him. He stopped the bus, opened the door, jumped out, and ran around the bus three times. The passengers shouted, “He has gone mad. Give back our money.”

Mani rushed Suresh to the hospital. The neurologist said it was a problem of nerves, but there was a mental cause. He was taken to the psychiatrist, Dr. Roy Thomas. Mani explained Suresh’s behaviour and the unusual way he drove the bus.

“Why did you drive the bus like that?” said Roy.

Suresh took out the news clipping from his purse and showed it. The psychiatrist read it and said, “Are you mad? You are a Kochi bus driver, not somebody from the Gulf. Follow your karma.”

Suresh nodded, and went back to the bus. As soon as he sat on the seat, he blew the horn. He drove zigzag at full speed through the streets. He cut into another bus, grazed a Santro car, and got onto a pavement. He braked hard, then sped away. At bus stops, he rushed off even before the passengers had got on. Finally, he raced through a red light.

One immediate result: Suresh’s body calmed down and a gleeful smile broke out on his face. “Once a Kochi driver, always a Kochi driver,” he shouted, as he tore up the newspaper clipping. “Bye Bye Jose!”

(The New Indian Express, Kerala)

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