I’m at the bus stand at Brigade Road. I sit on the low wall by the pavement as I wait for the bus. Ola/Uber have become too expensive and it really pinches me to throw away money like that. Hence, I have started using city buses to commute wherever possible. Public commute isn’t great in Bangalore and city buses can be quite a pain but I am willing to take the pain instead of throwing money on Ola/Uber. I do not own a vehicle.
Back to the bus stand. I notice a pleasant looking lady sitting beside me. The salt-pepper curly haired bespectacled lady smiles at me warmly and I smile back. She asks which bus I was waiting for and we realise that we were waiting for the same bus. She goes on to say that she’s been waiting for a while and that particular bus should have been here by now. We went on talking about city buses, their regularity, etc. for a few minutes. I usually enjoy chatting up with random strangers and this lady seemed nice.
After a while the bus arrives, she boards first and I follow. The bus is near empty and I would have normally taken a window seat. Instead, I go sit right next to her. I don’t know why I do that, she looks surprised as well. Now, we chit chat some more and learn about things like where we were headed, what we were doing at Brigade Road, if we are originally from Bangalore, etc. We also formally introduce ourselves. When the question of what we do comes up, I get to know that she used to work for a renowned MNC but left her job 6-years back – “I realized I could not do this anymore, I wanted to do better.”
She then takes me through her journey of learning sign language and now being associated with a non-profit that works for underprivileged deaf and dumb children. She tells me stories about how she goes for home visits, builds trust with the parents and family members and how she convinces the importance of education to them. In that section of society, deaf and dumb is still taboo and parents do not want to disclose the condition of their wards. She tells me things that I had never thought about, like how expressive these children are and because they get no audience, they can go on and on for hours when they find someone to converse with.
An ordinary day and I meet an extraordinary woman. A random and unexpected rendezvous with a stranger who turns out to be so inspirational. I am overwhelmed and listen in rapt attention literally gaping, trying to gauge her in light of this new-found information. Her humility stands tall throughout the conversation.
Somewhere enroute two young girls get onto the bus with an elderly woman. They were barefoot, wore veils, and seemed to be from a disadvantaged section of society. The elderly woman takes a seat somewhere. The two girls, 11-12 year olds I guess, stand right next to our seat. We could only see their eyes. My lady tells me she thinks they are hearing and speech impaired. As I am about to ask how does she know, she has already started conversing with the two girls in sign language. The girls are delighted. They remove the veil on their face and talk away with her. I am astonished – how did she know!
In between, she tells me that they are sharing some stories of their life with her. My stop arrives and I alight. Totally flabbergasted!
God is present on earth in the form of these extraordinary human beings. There are many of them out there, we just don’t know them – the unsung heroes.