Once upon a time, there was a king, who was fierce as a dragon, whose fighting skills were the talk of the realms beyond his kingdom, who was just and loved his people, who had the ability to create the most devious and cunning battle plans and who loved music and dance, for his court was always filled with artists from kingdoms far away.

His subjects were prosperous under his rule. His recklessness in battlefield never reached his level-headed decision-making in court. His enemies feared him and were terrorized by the prospect of facing him in war.

One day, while hunting a deer in the nearby jungle, the king did a mistake for which he paid dearly. He was aiming an arrow at the running deer as his horse chased it. He was oblivious of where his horse was going as he trusted him blindly while hunting. Their team had never failed but that day was different. The horse gave a sudden start as a sage came in front of him. The arrow left the bow and hit a tree behind the deer. The king controlled the horse and maneuvered him so that it curved away from the sage, but could not avoid the sand which stained the sparking white clothes of the learned. The king got down from the horse and asked for forgiveness with folded hands.

“You could have trampled me!” the sage said frothing at the mouth.

The king bowed his head to the ground.

“No! This will not do. You have to know the consequences of trusting a mere horse. You will drive a horse in your next seven births and you will see where it goes. Your seventh birth will be your actual test. You will have temptations. If you fail, the cycle will continue.”

The king was aghast. He pleaded for the curse to be removed but the sage was adamant. He kicked the king and walked away.

After he died in a battle a few years later, the king ended up being a horse cart driver for his next six lives. He was a good driver and never did a mistake, never crushed even a mouse under his cart. As time passed, sages went out of fashion and so did kings – replaced by people below poverty line and above it. The king was born in Delhi in his seventh life. There were no horse carts left, not even in Chandni Chowk. He contemplated moving to Agra where the profession was still in its bloom, but gave up as there was too much competition. But the curse of the sage had to be fulfilled. And hence, instead of a horse, destiny leads him to drive something which had horsepower – A bus.

I have had the privilege of travelling in the bus driven by the valiant king of past. I am sad that he gave in to temptations, but why should I blame him as he does not remember anything from his previous lives? Why should I blame him when bravery is in his blood?

He drives fearlessly. There are no speed limits for him. There never were. He was air. His horse was air. And now, the bus is air. He loves to bump his subjects to the ceiling of the bus by over-speeding over speed-breakers. His majestic aura stops us from complaining.

He slams the bus in wrong lanes as if trying to break a multi-tier defensive formation (ChakraVyuh) when a traffic signal stops working. Mostly, he is able to get out of it by performing a futuristic art equivalent to sword fights – Honking.

To add more feathers to his majesty’s crown, let me add that he swears a lot too. If not on diesel, the bus might run on the splurge of swear words dripping from his mouth. But can I blame his highness? Where else can a war cry be uttered if not in a war zone?

The king still carries his love for music in his heart. He has the largest collection of music cassettes you could ever imagine a bus driver could manage to keep in his overhead compartment. From “Achko machko Kaa karu raam” to “Sarkailo khatiya” to regional pop songs with jhankaar beats, he has it all. Sometimes, on really terrifying days, you can feel the bus dancing to the music.

The King always held the high ground in battle fields. Now imagine our king sitting on a proud stallion and running amok amidst the poor foot soldiers of the enemy forces. The pleasure he derived from flattening enemies under the foot of his beast was unmatched. In his seventh birth, the king has his hands tied. He cannot swat people but this never stops him from making them run. Oh yes! You have to see the sparkle in his eyes when he makes poor pedestrians run in front of his bus to save their lives. Add a few war cries to it, and you could almost believe that the mighty king remembers everything from the glorious battles he had fought in his past life.

He has sadly given in to temptations this time. He is human after all and he has controlled himself in the previous six births. The cycle of seven rebirths has to be repeated but it makes me anxious to think of the consequences. What if he becomes a pilot in his next birth? I have to decide whether to continue the cycle or not? Should I expose mankind to this disaster? He is not a king anymore but the blood runs strong in him.

I have to think. You must be wondering how I know the details of the mighty conquerer. Ponder and you will find the answer to the riddle. Who else could I be but the sage who cursed the king?

I am living the life of a common man now, thankfully above the poverty line.

p.s. The King is my actual bus driver and all the descriptions of his driving histrionics are true to my knowledge.

About the Author:

Amit Sharma is the Author of fiction novel False Ceilings published by Lifi Publications in January 2016.
Amit always keeps a book and a portable reading light in his bag (much to the amusement of his fellow travellers). His other hobbies include watching world cinema, travelling, staring at hills, digging into various cuisines, cooking, listening to music, painting, blogging, making his daughter laugh and helping his wife with her unnecessary and prolonged shopping.
He is currently working on his Second novel which is a thriller.

16 Comments

  1. Punam J R June 27, 2012 at 3:19 am - Reply

    he he he… that was really funny.. best part was when you revealed the sage’s identity… 😛 😛 and the PS was a punch. 🙂
    Great good writing.

    • Amit June 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      Thank you Punam. 🙂
      Well, the kind of dead expressions I give at times, people do think that I am a sage. 😛

  2. R's Mom June 27, 2012 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    hahahahhah! you have a way with words eh?

    But seriously, the bus drivers are getting scarier in Delhi na 🙁

    I always tell the spouse that I admire the BEST drivers of Bombay…they seem to weave their ways through impossible traffic..but again, there are accidents due to negligence 🙁

    • Amit June 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      Hehe. 🙂 I hope so.
      Well, ever since I have opened my eyes, I have been subjected to rash driving. Remember the killer Blue line buses killed so many in Delhi before they were pulled off the roads? I have travelled in them, sometimes hanging off the door, and survived to tell the tale.
      Haryana roadways bus drivers are a rare species. They really need to introduce seatbelts in those buses because you keep bouncing all the time.
      I have never been to Bombay but the fact that the auto and taxi drivers there go by meter brings tears to my eyes.

  3. Ashwathy June 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    ROFL!!! What a build -up to the actual context!! 😀 😀

    Pilot in the next birth eh?? What makes u think he is not born yet?? 😛
    Could be the pilot of that disaster struck Mangalore plane which skidded off the runway…

    • Amit June 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm - Reply

      Thanks Ash!
      Well, he is not born yet because he is still driving my office bus. 🙂

  4. Visha June 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    😆

    Your imagination and story telling..hats off 🙂

    The volvo ac buses in Bangalore definitely need seat-belts.. 🙁

    hope sense prevails on the king soon so as to not start the cycle again 😉

    • Amit June 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm - Reply

      Thanks Visha. 🙂
      Yes, I hope so too!

  5. Su June 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    We, the readers are the Deer. Thank you from saving us from the heroics of the King-Driver, and yet, enlightening us of his wrath and thirst for war!

    • Amit June 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      You are not saved. Not yet. He still drives THE BUS. 😉

  6. Maddie June 27, 2012 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    Hahahaha…I laughed so hard! I don’t know about Delhi but it is the same in Mumbai as well. You would think the drivers on our office buses would be better but they are worse than the truck drivers.

    I always wonder if these drivers think that they are driving armoured tanks crushing and murdering everything that comes in their way.

    • Amit June 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      Yes, they are. I think all bus drivers must be knights and warriors in their previous births.
      I am sure they are killing people in their minds while driving.

  7. debajyoti June 29, 2012 at 7:00 am - Reply

    that was a hilarious take on rash driving. enjoyed reading this one. don’t enjoy the driving though especially when i am one of those pedestrians 😀

    • Amit June 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks Debajyoti. Yeah, I hate to walk on the road too. Makes me feel like a cockroack about to be squished.

  8. metherebel June 30, 2012 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    LOL… You are sure you cursed just the king and not his entire clan!!! I find a few members of his clan down south!

    • Amit July 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm - Reply

      I know for a fact that my brothers definitely cursed a whole bunch of kings. They were such a menace and we loved to curse to boost our loser ego. 😉

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