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     The bus rolled on now cutting across a bare landscape, now rushing through a tiny hamlet or past an odd wayside shop. Sometimes the bus seemed on the point of gobbling up another vehicle that was coming towards them or a pedestrian crossing the road. But lo! somehow it passed on smoothly, leaving all obstacles safely behind. Trees came running towards them but then stopped as the bus reached them and simply stood there helpless for a moment by the side of the road before rushing away in the other direction.
 
     Suddenly Valli clapped her hands with glee. A young cow, tail high in the air, was running very fast, right in the middle of the road, right in front of the bus. The bus slowed to a crawl, and the driver sounded his horn loudly again and again. But the more he honked, the more frightened the animal became and the faster it galloped — always right in front of the bus.
 
     Somehow this was very funny to Valli. She laughed and laughed until there were tears in her eyes.
 
     “Hey, lady, haven’t you laughed enough?” called, the conductor. “Better save some for tomorrow.”
Explanation:
 
Valli recalls the struggles and journey of finally taking the bus ride outside the village. She cherishes every moment of the ride as she curiously looks at the scenic beauty outside. As the bus had to move out of the village, there were very few buildings and shops. It was mostly bare land that the bus rolled on. It was initially slow, but as it slowly got off the boundaries, it slowly picked up speed. It slowly entered a smaller village, a hamlet. She also sees some old wayside shops. In the villages, there are very few shops, mostly located on the sides of the road for easy accessibility.
 
Valli, having never experienced the bus ride, finds everything new. As it is, she finds it unique that she is able to move from one place to another. There were other vehicles on the road, and the bus was speeding up in such a way that it felt as if it was going to gobble the other vehicles that were racing towards it. It even felt like it would gobble up the simple pedestrians walking or crossing the road. But to her surprise, the bus just casually crossed all the vehicles and people. It passed smoothly and left all the things behind. As children, most of us think that the things on the road, especially the trees, are rushing towards the bus as it keeps moving forward. As one moves forward, it also feels like the trees are thrown behind. It looked as though they were rushing towards her, and as soon as the bus reached them, they stood there like a helpless person and, in a minute, rushed away in the other direction.
 
Valli sees not only the trees and people but also a cow that is trying to cross the road. She clapped her hands in glee. This is not because she has never seen a cow but because she found it exciting to see it in front of the bus. It had its tail right up in the air as it was running fast to the middle of the road. The driver who had picked up speed had to stop as he did not want to hurt it. The bus slowed down to a crawl, and the driver honked at the cow as he was irritated by the sudden interruption. But animals do not like to be overwhelmed, so the more he honked, the more frightened the cow was. It galloped more right in front of the bus. Valli was amused by this, as it was a new experience for her. She clapped her hands like any other child expressing happiness. The conductor teased her about saving some laughter for the next day as she was rolling with laughter.
 
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Cow in front of a bus
 
Words with difficult meanings:
 
S No
Words
Meaning
1
Bare Empty with nothing
2
Hamlet A very small village
3
Gobble To eat hurriedly
4
Pedestrians People who walk on roads
5
Obstacle Something that makes it difficult for you to achieve
6
Glee Extreme happiness
7
Honk To sound the horn
8
Gallop To go at a faster speed
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.