The conductor was near the entrance giving tickets, so even before I'd got in fully -- I had one foot on the last step -- I reached for my back pocket to take the wallet. Just as pulled it out, it slipped from my hand and fell down; hitting the edge of the lowest step, it fell out on to the road.
The bus wasn't moving fast, and for a split second, I saw it lying on the road. But the bus wasn't moving slow either, so I couldn't jump out. For a moment I panicked, but I quickly told the conductor to stop the bus: "My purse fell out..." I told him. He blew the whistle, the bus slowed down and I hopped out. Quickly I turned back and ran with all my life. It must have been just about 100 meters from the bus stop.
I could see a boy picking up something and giving it to an elderly man. I ran faster. Panting, I looked at what the man had in his hand. It was something black, and I immediately recognised it was my wallet.
"It's yours? What is your identity? I was planning to give it to the police..."
As I reeled out in quick succession my name, where I work, my designation etc etc, he opened the purse....
"O, you have so many credit cards...."
"No sir, I've only one credit card, one is my office identity card...."
Though I was upset about how people quickly jump into conclusions without ascertaining the truth; I was more bothered about getting that purse back from him. In fact, one was a credit card, one an ATM card, one a discount card from a bookstore; and one my office identity card. And, I had Rs 100 plus a few smaller notes.
"Okay.... " fully convinced he handed it back to me with a smile. "I'ven't taken anything, you can check..." he added for good measure.
With a smile I thanked him and God; and walked back to the bus-stop.
Once again (what a coincidence) just as I reached the bus stop, a bus came. This one, however, had very few passengers. I got into it, sat comfortably and heaved a sigh of relief.
Then I pondered over what had happened during the previous few minutes.
- What if the conductor hadn't whistled the bus to stop immediately?
- What if someone had already picked the purse and walked in the opposite direction?
- What if that the old gentleman, instead of being good, had just put it in his pocket and asked me a counterquestion: "What purse?"
These are times when I feel I must count my small blessings.
I also pondered over this:
- What if I had, as usual, put the ticket fare in my pocket, so I wouldn't have had to take the wallet in the bus? All this probably could have been avoided then...