I wake up as usually with the cock’s crowing. I get off the bed and stretch my muscles. I look at the three most important people lying beside my empty space. They are my daughters, Trisha and Tridha. My beautiful wife, Sudha, is adorably occupying the place next to them. I smile at their beautiful faces and go out to complete my daily chores. I come out of the bathroom, wearing my clothes and can see Sudha preparing the breakfast.
“Had sleep last night?” I ask her. She only smiles and nods her head in approval. I sit down on the floor and am eating my breakfast.
Now, I am going out for the work. It’s already thirty minutes past five. Hence I am in a hurry. Sudha says,” Listen ji! Please try to come sooner today. I have some surprise for you.”
“Surprise! Wow! Great! I will surely come or try to come at least.” I say and plant a kiss on her head.
Her eyes widen. She smacks me playfully in the stomach and says,” What are you doing? The kids will wake up. You are becoming naughtier day by day.” She laughs covering her mouth with the end of her sari. I laugh and wink at her,” You look cuter when you are angry.”
She starts laughing,” Okay. Very funny! Now go…and come soon.” We bid goodbyes and I start walking on the road. I reach the garage where my little yellow school bus is resting. So, you guessed it right. I am a school bus-driver. I have taken this job mostly because I love kids. I can’t wait to listen to their usual cheers and laughs that will adore the bus soon.
My helper, Rajesh tells me,” Vishnu! Are you ready?”
I jump on the driver’s seat and say, “Yes bro.” and I ignite the engine.
I carefully take the bus out of the garage and start rolling it on the road. The morning sun is brightly shining on the road. After a few minutes, the first stop arrives. I halt the bus. Four young kids board the bus. They greet me,” Good morning uncle!” I greet back,” Good morning kids!” All the kids who board this bus love me very much, as much as I love them. However, look, my next stop has come. I halt the bus again. This time a few boys jump in and occupy the seats in the driver’s cabin. They start chatting with me. I love chatting with them. I start driving the bus while occasional random chats with them.
Almost thirty minutes over, my bus is now full of kids and right now I am about to reach the school, our destination. I feel so full and happy at these times. I wish I could cuddle these kids forever. My daughters must look such adorable too. I am never present when they go to school. I smile as I remember their cute sisterly fights and silly complaints. My wife always gawks and reveres me how much love I have for children. I just smile. I never know how it got instilled in my heart. But I love this feeling.
Suddenly, I can see a few school uniform wrapped kids are crossing the road in front of me. Oh God! Now what? I widen my eyes and honk loudly. But I am too close to them. They are also transfixed on their place with fear. The children inside the bus have started screaming with fear. Even I am freaking out. No Vishnu! You can’t lose your calm and put so many children’s life at stake.’ Then what should I do?’ I ask my mind. Instantly an idea flashed upon me. I can’t afford to lose any of these kids at any cost. Let this cost be my life then. I swirl the steering wheel and directly bang into the pillar of the flyover under which we were going. I crash the driver’s cabin, especially my seat with the pillar. Aah! I scream in pain. I can feel my head bursting, my hands and legs have lost coordination and my brain has probably stopped working. Soon the screams fade out and my vision too fades and a black curtain is drawn in front of me. I lose my senses.
I open my eyes, my head is throbbing. Slowly, I get up from wherever I am lying. Probably this is a hospital. I rub my hands all over the body. The hands must have broken as they are twisting in weird angles. I can feel chunks of matted blood, vessels and brain lumped at the right side of my head. My hands, legs, right side of the stomach— all are heavily matted with crimson blood. But why can’t I feel any pain? I can see some kids from the bus crying unstoppably. “Hey kids!” I say. But I think my voice is too feeble to be listened by them. I look at their faces. They are those kids who were sitting beside me in my cabin. Their faces are bruised. I curse myself,” Stupid! What the hell you did? Such a bad driver you are! You could not take them out this ordeal unscathed. You failed. And you clam you love children!” my eyes tear up as I see them. Yes, I really failed as a good driver. I look at the doctor who was busy doing something near a crowded bed. Can’t he treat these kids first leaving that bed? Okay. Must be some serious patient is lying there, between life and death.
I can hear some familiar wails from outside. Sudha, Trisha and Tridha have come. They are loudly wailing as if I died. Can’t they see me? I wave my hand,” Hey! I am here. Can you see me?” Sudha’s tear-smudged face stares at me. A smile creeps up my face and I extend my hands to embrace them. But she only cries louder and runs directly through me to reach the bed. The crowd moves away and I see myself lying on the bed, lifeless!