THROUGH THE ANCIENT WALLS

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While the bus was passing through a gate in the ancient walls, he started ranting about contemporary politics, and the upcoming elections and the corrupted politicians, and the system just doesn’t give a shit about you! (He was talking to himself, waving his arms about.) He would’ve gone viral (viral, for the future generations reading this – because he was talking to the future, he pointed out – means that had anybody taped his rant and posted it online, millions would’ve shared it.) Now, where were we? Momentum lost. He couldn’t believe we still hadn’t realized politicians don’t give a shit about you. THEY DON’T CARE! Then he requested his stop and got off, arbitrarily, he the anti-system, at an insignificant stop for day-time tourists because near a park and for a different kind of night ‘explorers’ because near the park. But he wasn’t either, and it was dusk, like in between prescribed times, like saying with contempt: define me if you can.

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AN ENDANGERED SPECIES

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The world was much more diverse millennia ago. It can still be so, at times, in the dark tunnels of public transport. His face is hidden by greyish hair (a bit of dandruff, that too a typical feature) back curved, right hand plying with care from end to end of the page he’s studying. His worn little book is the feat of leg muscles in tension that keep it on his lap in a perfectly horizontal position; a pencil, a blue highlighter for one crucial sentence in the paragraph, a reference to a footnote – even smaller print – marked by a circle in pencil and the hesitation whether to simply underline or definitely highlight the extra piece of information. A thought! Another little book comes out and there too the myriad signs and brief comments, with question-marks to be carefully pondered. He drops his pencil, and he smiles from another age at the “guy” who picks it up. He also has the time to be kind!

THE LIVES OF STRANGERS II

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She was at the stop, waiting for a bus. (Long time no see.) She used to be seen on the mostly silent ride at 7:55 in the morning, down the hill into one of the hearts of town. She’s the one who, slightly worried, once inquired of the driver if there was a strike on. She didn’t seem to mind it when a loud voice occasionally got on and rattled on about some intricate case on the phone – lawyers on their way to court – and one time she was chatting at the stop with what looked like one of them, snippets of the “values of modern society” which brushed by slumbered ears on the bus, proving her point probably. Her brownish hair had started to thin out and she wore lipstick of same color. On winter days, a funny-looking puffy coat. On warmer days, boots gave way to open-toe sandals.

THE LAST RUSH

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The engine is on, running quietly at idle, the driver checking some mysterious timetable. The back door is open. The tram on the other side of the big square releases the first gush of passengers who disperse in frantic runs to the five or six busses available at this big junction. No one knows when the unoiled squeaky doors will shut and the roaring engine disappear behind those few bare trees, the snake-like tram, that building, the curving road. Another load and they all make it, their faces beaming in the rosy twilight. Then another, which to those on the bus seems like they won’t make it – it’s been almost half an hour. But they do and get on!, right before the next stream of folks who see the tram approaching and they’re on it, its doors opening and the bus’ closing, driving off, mechanically indifferent to the last rush.