With his face still hidden behind the newspaper, he had a sip of the tea from his left hand and placed it back. I was curious, curious to know how he looked like and the expression on his face. By this time all the employees at that stop had boarded the bus and the bus was about to move. I was getting frustrated as I was not able to see his face. Before he could go out of my sight, he started folding the newspaper. His face was blocked when he did the first fold and when he placed the newspaper aside, I could see that the person had three white lines on his forehead which made me feel that he had just taken bath and was religious. I had literally popped my head out of the window, he was wearing spectacles, and eyebrows were raised looked like an expression of wonder. He had a simple moustache; he was wearing a white colored shirt and a lungi with leather sandals for his feet. He did bottoms up with the tea cup, got up from his chair and took the newspaper and walked towards a pole. The bus had started moving by now, I saw him remove his sandals and bow down folding his hands. I looked up to see what it was with the pole. The visual made me speechless; it was fluttering happily in the early morning breeze, the Karnataka Flag. I managed to ask the guy beside me, ‘Did you see that?’ even without looking at him. But I dint get a response.
I boarded the 7.30 AM office bus, I know the beginning sounds like a story that happened 20years back. But the fact remains that it happened today. The vacant window seat invited me towards giving me an opportunity to look at the outside world; I considered that the bus was my world for the next one and half hour. I also did pray to god but I do not know for what. Every time the bus stopped, people were boarding, rather employees of a big software giant were boarding. To some extent it looked like goats following a line and getting into the bus. The driver was particular about the display of ID cards by everyone who were boarding the bus.
In one stop, I saw a man who was reading a kannada newspaper, with a small tea cup placed on his side on another chair. He was sitting on a plastic chair. The chair did not have arm rests and it was brown in color. The tea or maybe coffee was placed in a small white cup beside him. He had crossed his legs and the newspaper was stretched out with both his hands. From this visual he looked like 55-60 year old man who had completed all his responsibilities of life and family and was enjoying a retired life.
I finally lost sight of the man but visuals lingered on in my mind. I was trying to place myself in his shoes, rather the leather sandals and think what would have made him to bow down to the flag. Is he one of those Kannada rakshana vedike fellows? Even before my mind started generating questions about him at the speed of Chacha chowdhary’s brain, I saw a stage setup for a program on a half built flyover. Speakers were placed on all the electric poles and the song being played was ‘Sirivanthanaadaru kannada naadalle mereve…’ The line actually means, ‘even if I become rich I will roam in the land of Kannada’. Does this mean rich people cannot live in land of kannada or the land of kannada is not made for such folks? It was already halfway to my office and I was unable to digest the first two encounters of Kannada.
Amidst these thoughts I had failed to notice who had occupied the seat next to me. I only noticed him when he took out a book from his bag and as he flipped through the pages, I notice text written in kannada again. It was now that I looked towards his face. I got a pleasant smile in return. All these incidents made wonder what was with kannada today. I closed my eyes for a while unable to put my mind to work more than what it was doing now. The screeching sound of the brakes woke me up. It was time to get down and move our asses to work. The guy beside was looking at me, he got up from his seat to get down, I followed him and before he could get down he said, “That was my dad” and disappeared in the crowd.
Things i got to know after writing this:
The song mentioned in the post was written by C.V.Shivashankar. This was not a part of any movie but still, he had released it for the public to increase / improve the kannada bonding of the kannadigas.