It is a few mins past 9pm. Yesterday. I have had a rough day, and so I quickly catch the bus and position myself in one of the front seats, a position I rarely take.
The journey starts. It is smooth. I get out my phone so that I can continue devouring this amazing book that I am currently reading. Then I hear it. A child is crying. The cry is sharp and incessant. At the seat in front of me. I somehow ignore it. After all, he shall calm down soon.
He doesn’t. I take my eyes off my phone and turn to my neighbor who is trying to tell me something. People are saying something too. To each other. About the child. The child is still crying. And it is that cry which when he cries, you are the one that feels the pain.
My neighbor is very concerned about the child. The woman who is holding him seems to have given up on managing to calm him down. She is just looking at him. And hoping that he shall be still, or fall asleep. But he doesn’t.
My neighbor asks for the child so that she can try to cool him down. She sings songs for him. Points him to the vehicles out. I show him some things on my phone as I touch his cheeks (oh boy!) as my feeble attempt to contribute to this problem solving. The child is hearing none of it. He is crying even harder. For a minute I sit there and wonder whether I should ask that he be handed over to me so that I can do the magic. Then on second thought I opt out.
The lady behind us asks for him. She takes him up and down. She talks to him and sings songs. The baby is still crying his heart out, and now the whole bus is hurting. All of us are trying to see how we can crack this code. The child exchanges hands again, in reverse order, and back to its original handler. We gather that she is not even the mother. The mother has been left at the hospital. Now we are all bleeding.
May be the baby is hungry. When the bus stops to refuel, my neighbor rushes out to go get some practical help. She buys a baby bottle, rushes to some hotel and gets some milk warmed and adds some sugar to it. By this time, the refueling is over and the driver has parked the vehicle at the side. And we are not in a hurry to go. No one is rushing us or the driver. We all patiently wait for her.
She comes and the milk is given to the (let’s call her) Auntie. Bad news: the child has never used a baby bottle and is not willing to start today. In short, the cry continues. The lady sitting next to the driver feels it is now time. She has been looking back throughout the journey and silently sympathized with the child. She asks for the baby, and the milk.
The baby is handed over and after a few minutes, for the first time, he keeps quiet. All of us are excited. And I guess he also tries his mouth on the bottle. We are comforted. And the bus goes on. But one thing we know, she shall alight soon too, and the baby shall be handed back to the Auntie, who may never sleep this whole night.
As I reflect on this important journey, as I see how we all tried to be of help, however simple and unfruitful (like my phone pictures), however noble like the lady getting the milk, and the driver who parks the bus aside, this was quite a moment. There is still hope for humanity. All is not lost. We all really have quite some good in us. A resident desire to positively contribute.
Sometimes the worries and troubles of this life make that part of us translucent. But a shape of it still remains there. Let us try to make this good manifest even more frequently.