“Won’t your mother be looking for you?” the conductor asked when he gave the girl her ticket.
“No, no one will be looking for me,” she said.
The bus started, and again there were the same wonderful sights.
Valli wasn’t bored in the slightest and greeted everything with the same excitement she’d felt the first time. But suddenly she saw a young cow lying dead by the roadside, just where it had been struck by some fast-moving vehicle.
“Isn’t that the same cow that ran in front of the bus on our trip to town?” she asked the conductor.
The conductor nodded, and she was overcome with sadness. What had been a lovable, beautiful creature just a little while ago had now suddenly lost its charm and its life and looked so horrible, so frightening as it lay there, legs spread eagled, a fixed stare in its lifeless eyes, blood all over...
The bus moved on. The memory of the dead cow haunted her, dampening her enthusiasm. She no longer wanted to look out the window.
She sat thus, glued to her seat, until the bus reached her village at three forty. She stood up and stretched herself. Then she turned to the conductor and said, “Well, sir, I hope to see you again.”
“Okay, madam,” he answered her, smiling. “Whenever you feel like a bus ride, come and join us. And don’t forget to bring your fare.”
Valli was soo keen to explore that she hid her desire from her mother. She is aware that if she is caught, she will be in trouble. But certain things take a bit of courage, and she took a chance. But the conductor was worried about the eight-year-old girl travelling alone from the village to the city. As a conductor, he has to give her the ticket, and he does so with a curious mind. He has never seen a kid of her age travel alone in the bus with so much confidence and no purpose of roaming the city. He asks her if her mother would be searching for her because what kind of mother sends her child alone on the bus. But Valli does not give up her secret plan and curtly responds that she has no one searching for her. She was careful enough not to reveal all details to a stranger.
Valli was prepared to enjoy the return journey as much as possible. She was not bored of seeing the same sights again. She was looking forward to enjoying the ride back home. She greeted everything with the same excitement that she felt the first time. But her happiness does not last long. The cow she had witnessed on her journey to the city was there again. But this time, it was in a different scenario. The cow was lying dead on the roadside. It had escaped Valli's bus but unfortunately got hit by another bus and lost its life. Some fast-moving vehicle had taken its life away. Valli could not believe her eyes and confirmed with the conductor that it was the same cow running in front of them.
The cow's death made Valli sad
When Valli found that it was the same cow that had made her laugh once was dead now, she was overcome with sadness. Life is so fleeting and fragile that what we enjoy in one moment can come to an end. The cow was so enthusiastic and happily running around with so much life in it. And all of a sudden, its charm had been lost since it had no life in it. The carcass looked horrible and hard to describe as it lay there lifeless with its legs spread. Its eyes had a stare when life had drained out of its body. There was blood everywhere. The bus moved on, but Valli lost all her enthusiasm as the sight of the dead filled her with sorrow. She no longer wanted to look out of the window. She sat in her seat and did not move at all. But she reached her village by three forty as she had planned. She bid farewell to the conductor, who teased her, saying that madam could come in his bus whenever she felt like it if she brought her fare.
Words with difficult meanings:
|Nod||To shake one's head in approval|
|Haunt||To scare oneself|
|Carcass||The dead body of an animal|
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.