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     The conductor was a jolly sort, fond of joking. “Oh, please don’t be angry with me, my fine madam,” he said. “Here, have a seat right up there in front. Everybody move aside please — make way for madam.”
 
     It was the slack time of day, and there were only six or seven passengers on the bus. They were all looking at Valli and laughing with the conductor. Valli was overcome with shyness. Avoiding everyone’s eyes, she walked quickly to an empty seat and sat down.
 
     “May we start now, madam?” the conductor asked, smiling. Then he blew his whistle twice, and the bus moved forward with a roar.
 
     It was a new bus, its outside painted a gleaming white with some green stripes along the sides. Inside, the overhead bars shone like silver. Directly in front of Valli, above the windshield, there was a beautiful clock. The seats were soft and luxurious.
 
     Valli devoured everything with her eyes. But when she started to look outside, she found her view cut off by a canvas blind that covered the lower part of her window. So she stood up on the seat and peered over the blind.
Explanation:
 
The conductor is a jovial person, and when he sees the eight-year-old throwing air, he takes it in a fun spirit and addresses her as Madam, and says that she should take up the front seat, and everyone should make way for her as she is acting important. It was midday, and usually, people only travel a little at that slack time. Hence there were only five or six passengers in total. They all laughed at Valli since it was new and cute to see a child behaving like an adult. Valli was shy and, therefore, did not look into their eyes. She knew that people were noticing her, and she walked slowly into the bus and sat on an empty seat.
 
Since everyone had settled down in the bus, and Valli had made such a fuss about getting into the bus, the conductor still maintained his sarcasm. He acts as if he is an attendee of a queen and seeks permission to start the bus. He blows the whistle to signal that the driver can start with the journey and the bus roars off into the town. The author gives a fine description of the Pallavan bus that used to go the rounds in Tamil Nadu during the earlier days. It is white in colour with green stripes along the sides. It was a new bus and therefore had nice cushion seats. There was a clock on top above the windshield for the driver to start the bus on time.
 
The overhead bars in the bus, which are used by standing passengers to maintain balance, were shiny like silver. Valli was quite excited to see all these new kinds of stuff around her. She wanted to look outside just like all the passengers she had seen, thereby enjoying the scenery on the way. But the canvas bind that was used to block sunlight or raindrops from entering the bus blocked her view as it covered the lower part of the window. She was a little girl, and therefore she could not take a peek from the top view as she was short. But Valli was not someone to budge. She stood up on the seat so that she could get a proper view of everything.
 
shutterstock_264935741.jpg
Valli was excited to see everything
 
Words with difficult meanings:
 
S.No
Words
Meaning
1
Fond Liking towards a thing
2
Jolly Fun minded
3
Slack time Inactive and lazy
4
Gleaming Clean, and reflecting light
5
Windshield A sheet that protects the glass of a vehicle
6
Overhead bars The bars that people hold onto in a vehicle
7
Luxurious Extremely comfortable and rich
8
Devoured Quickly and eagerly
9
Canvas blind The screen that covers the window of a bus
10
Pallavan Bus The name given to an older bus service in Tamil Nadu
Reference:
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. Madam Rides the Bus - Vallikannan (pp. 116-128). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.