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Photo taken at Plitvice National Park, Croatia by Vibhor Dhote Oh! What are these days I have found myself in! The bagpacks I carry n...

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Fare Affair

“Madam, your fare?” the bus-conductor asked the lady sitting beside me
in the bus I took from Jalukbari to Panbazar yesterday. The woman
handed out a ten-rupee note and got back a couple of coins.  I had a
fifty-rupee note clutched between my fingers to give to the conductor.
Although, the fare is only seven rupees, I did not have any other
notes of less value with me that day.
To my surprise, the conductor
moved on to the next seat to ask for fare without taking mine.
Perhaps, he confounded that I had given my fare already.
I was delighted by the fact that I had my seven bucks saved and I
could spend it on a candy bar.
But, deep within me, there was guilt
that I was doing something unjust.On one hand I was euphoric that I
had deft enough not to let anyone know that the reason of the smile on
my face was that I was travelling without a ticket. On the other hand
it made me feel debauched as I was entirely aware that the conductor
forgot to ask me.
Considering my conscience, it was not the right
thing to do. I decided to pay the fare and turned back to call the
conductor.  Alas, he was at the furthermost corner of the bus. Even if
I would have shouted to call him, he would not have heard. After all I
was sitting on the very first seat of the bus. So I considered this as
an indication that I should keep the money with me. With this context
I made my decision of not paying the fare. After all it was just a
matter of seven bucks only. It would not do him any harm if I did not
pay the mere sum.  But likewise, it would not do me any harm too if I
paid the fare like an ideal citizen. At the thought of this, the
conductor again crossed my seat and I called him. He did not hear me
as he was attending to other passengers standing inside the bus. Again
I decided that I must stop pondering over such a small matter. Is not
every second person in this world corrupt? So why should I act so
idyllically? I would rather not pay him. But then it reflected upon me
that people like the conductors and drivers are the needy. It would be morally
correct if I paid the fare. Preposterous! My state of mind was too
capricious to make the decision whether to pay the fare or keep it
with me.
At that very moment my stop arrived and I had made my mind.
While getting down at Panbazar I handed the conductor, who was
standing near the door, the fifty-rupee note I had and said that I had
forgotten to give in the bus. The conductor smiled and gestured the
bus driver to drive. I extended my hand and asked, “My change?” He
winked at me and the bus left…