Sitting in a public transit bus, drowned in my reading, I hadn’t noticed their conversation. A pack of veterans from rural Karnataka were discussing some matters, and I hadn’t bothered eavesdropping into their conversation, which seemed animated with vividly expressed emotions, depicted as regular modulation of their tones and bursts of laughter.
The bus conductor, after a while sat with the group and broke into their conversation. Apprehending a commotion (which gets nasty in buses), I interrupted my reading and gave heed to what was being spoken.
The conductor started off with a gentle intrusion (to my grave disappointment, in this case) and politely said that he would be putting forth some points, which might offend the ‘well learned’ veterans ( I saw the mock, they didn’t).
It seemed that the veterans before interruption by the conductor, were vehemently discussing casteist, sectarian politics, bragging about their caste and the pertaining vote bank, which drive the political machinery in many states of India, and Karnataka is still plagued by it.
The conductor calmly and passionately (which is in simultaneity difficult for me) started admonishing them for propagating divisive ideas and flaunting narrow mindedness. “There are only two kinds of people – good and bad. What are you people talking of caste, language or religion, or for that matter any other pseudo stratifications? In the end, don’t we all become one with nature with no difference?”, he said and I was glad that I was listening to him.
Doing good according to him was the only religion, or the way of life. If you do good to people, people are good to you – simple rule of nature to live in the community. Further, don’t you realise that the politicians are only using you people by dividing you on these lines,while they mint exorbitant amounts of money?
I was silently observing this discourse, amused at the understanding this sensible man had manifested. A parallel comparison of the other ‘learned urbanites’, who would invent many more excuses to disintegrate society were running in my head. Yet again, my understanding like many other rationals, that academic qualification never can be a metric of a person’s education was demonstrated and that made me happy.
The veterans seem to save their skin by nodding like a herd to the contradicting preaching that the conductor was giving them.
Talking of the bigger picture, if only everyone were as sensible as the conductor, or at least as patient as these veterans to give heed to what was being said, the world would of course be a better place, which unfortunately is a distant illusion.