Madhuri quickly packed up. It was getting late and she had to reach the other end of the city. Madhuri hated travelling for work, and monsoons made it even worse. Her plans of leaving early had fallen flat with a last minute meeting in office. As she was wrapping up for the day, she peeped through the blinds to check the weather. It was pretty cloudy and looked like heavy rains were about to lash the city. She fastened her pace to catch the office transport, but by the time she reached the stop, the last office bus had left.
Cursing her luck, Madhuri made her way to the city transport bus stop. “Now I just hope I get a bus before it starts pouring down.” She said to herself. She paced up and down the deserted bus stop while waiting for her bus. Her cell rang and she saw it was Rishabh, her husband on the line. “Are you on your way back? It has started drizzling here and it looks like, it’s going to be a long rainy night,” Rishabh said with concern. “Yes, I totally agree. I just hope the bus comes in the next 15 minutes. Things should be fine then.”
“Just let me know, once you board the bus.” He said. She agreed and put the phone back in her purse. She had been pre-occupied and did not notice the old man sitting at the far end of the bus stop. Now as peered out to see if there was any sign of the bus, she noticed the man. His clothes looked dirty, but he seemed to come from a good family. She was surprised to see him at the bus stop, as this was an IT Park and there were hardly any people at the stop except for office goers or allied staff. The closest residential area was around 5km away.
She walked up to him to try and ask about the next bus, but his eyes looked lost. He had a faraway look on his face. Madhuri wasn’t sure, but nevertheless she tried making a conversation with him. “It looks like it will be raining heavily today, where are you going in this weather.” He turned at her, but his tired eyes were listless. He did not answer. Madhuri tried again, “Do you like close by? You might want an umbrella if you are planning to go far.” He looked at her again, this time his wrinkled face gave a sad smile and said “I don’t remember where I live.” Madhuri was taken aback with this revelation. She went back to her seat. She didn’t know how to react and what to do. From the corner of her eye she saw the old man again. He had gone back to staring out aimlessly. He didn’t seem to remember anything.
“Should I believe him? she wondered. In the world of what’s app and mass message sharing systems, it wasn’t rare to receive messages about some duping gang and robbers who used similar pretexts to rob people on lonely stretches. Now, Madhuri was really scared and all she prayed was for that wretched bus to arrive. She looked around nervously, to see if there were any partners in crime lurking around but everything was calm around her. Just then she saw the bus arrive. Her joy knew no bounds. As she picked her purse she saw the old man. He looked scared and genuinely lost. In the spur of a moment, Madhuri made her decision. She boarded the bus holding his hand. She took the tickets for both of them and sat down. The seat beside her was empty and she gestured the old man to sit there. He quietly obeyed and sat down.
Madhuri asked him calmly, “Do you remember anything that might be helpful to locate your address? Any landmark, family members name, phone number, office name, anything that might help?” As the old man replied in negative, Madhuri’s heart sank. “All I know is that I have been walking the whole day. I even went to a police station, but they didn’t know what to do. They gave me something to eat, water to drink and clicked a few pictures for records. I sat there for a long time and then left.”
By now, the bus conductor and the few passengers that were there in the bus got curious. As Madhuri explained what she knew, the conductor suggested that there was an old age home close to Madhuri’s stop and leaving the old man there would be helpful. Everybody including Madhuri and the old man thought of this as a good idea.
Someone on the bus gave the old man some fruits to eat. Madhuri decided to try another way, she clicked a few pictures of his and shared the details that she had along with the pics on all her social media sites and what’s app groups. All the people on the bus agreed to do the same. She just hoped that the message could somehow reach the old man’s family.
By now it was pouring outside and she felt happy that she didn’t leave the old man alone at the deserted bus stop. As she filled in the forms at the old age home she realized the old man looked peaceful and for the first time she saw him smile.
Two days later, as she was getting ready for office, she got a call from the old age home. A young woman was on the other end of the line. She was choking as she spoke. “I can’t thank you enough for what you have done. I am the daughter of the old man you rescued. We had been running from pillar to post looking for him when one of our family members saw your post. You were a god send to us. My father is a retired Army Major and suffers from Alzheimer’s. He is never unattended and he usually has an introduction letter with him. Sadly, he misplaced his letter that day. Your quick thinking helped me find my father.”
After listening to her, Madhuri had tears in her eyes. She thought, “Was I really god send? Had it turned out this way, if I had left the office early, or left by office transport? Is this what you call coincidence? But all she could say out loud was “You are welcome.”