“Hey, can I leave? It takes about an hour to reach home and I’ll miss the bus if I don’t leave now….” I try explaining to a perfectly bemused lady in front of me.
It wasn’t an excuse to escape the lackluster woman I was supposed to be romancing with. Well, I had figured out hours ago that she became as uninterested as I and the whole thing turned out to be such a time-waste more than a flop. The excuse didn’t work well with the girl who has only traveled by luxury cars and has never tried a public bus in Chennai. It seemed obvious to both of us that we wanted to leave which we did, with an unintentional “see you later”. I smirk at her ignorance, prosperity and blush with embarrassment at my own mediocrity.
The bus stop was crowded as usual. A sick man had been lying there for week. I wonder if he was dead. Flies, mosquitoes and other insects , the names of which I don’t know, hovered over the body. I cover my nose with my hand and waited for the bus to Mylapore. I resist the urge to go and ask a group of girls standing in the stop if they had seen the 29C bus leave. One of the tube lights in the bus stop flickered and suddenly went off. An extremely crowded 41D came, stopped and left. Then came another 41D. Closely followed by another. I hope my 29C comes this often.
A group of girls giggle noisily and a nerdy guy is reading a book with the light of his mobile phone. I moved up to the guy and noticed “Income Tax” printed on the top of the book. “Must be a CA student”, I mutter under my breath. I shrug at his seriousness. People are too worried about their families, studies, careers, everything. “Survival of the Fittest” is most frequently discussed in the present day I suppose. Even Darwin himself must have not thought so much about it. The fittest gets the admission, gets the interview card, and gets the job and the gets the right partner. You’ve got to compete for everything these days.
Another group of college students hovered under the bus stop. I almost fell on the girl with the ID card. It’s frustrating when people push, pull and ram in motion when a bus comes. My heart rings an alarm when I see another group approaching the bus stop. I silently prayed they don’t want 29C.
An old, blind lady wanted to cross the street. She looked worn out. Maybe she’s a beggar. Anyhow I didn’t budge. What if my 29C came when I was at the other end of the road helping this oldie ? A strikingly pretty girl turned around to give me a disgusted look.
See how my image gets damaged? Now speak of survival of the fittest. How am I expected to run help an old lady and catch my bus, if it comes when I am at the other side of the road?
I can’t take this anymore. This population and the competition! I think the Earth is ruined with a new-fangled malady. A disease, rather. You know what disease I am talking about, yes; of course, it is the disease of too many mouths to feed. Now, let us think about the principal evils of our planet. The Earth has only one major problem: humans, and to be unambiguous, too many humans. Overpopulation is in my honest opinion, the most serious problem on earth. That, my friend, is reality! How many people are completely dispossessed – they live on earth, they are from Earth, but they possess not even one square millimeter of their home planet! This is a very mean catastrophe! How many don’t get to travel by their own bikes, cars or any other “own” vehicle? (Why are we talking about owning a vehicle, when owning a place of abode seems to be impossible? Do we need vehicles more than homes? Ironically, there are many people who own vehicles but not homes.)
Overpopulation leads to neck breaking competition, the depletion of essential non-renewable resources, destructive wars, pollution, acid rain, the depletion of the ozone layer, greenhouse effect, and the poisoning of Earth., erosion of soil, the annihilation of other living species and the destruction of important ecologies, the obliteration of the atmosphere, aberrant variations in weather patterns, the possible heating – or cooling – of the earth and the accompanying rise – or fall – in sea levels, nuclear waste, and so on. I can just go on forever.
This isn’t something I’ve started to worry about recently. When we were first taught about overpopulation, in fourth or fifth grade, I couldn’t get sleep that night, worrying if water would last till I die. Would there be water to drink or to shower? Would I have to die of thirst or stink? With over population will everyone get a job? Will there be jobs enough to employ me and my family and my friends and my neighbors and ……
Oh! There are just too many people. Okay, will there be a job at least for me? Will I be able to save money to buy myself a bike someday? Or would have all the oil resources and petrol been exhausted by the time I buy a bike?
The bus I am desperately waiting for comes and everyone at the bus stop dash for it. I run, but unable to hide my gentlemanliness I make way for all the ladies to get in. The conductor blows his whistle and I, having no other choice jump onboard. One foot is on the first step into the bus and the other foot is just hanging loose. There are another six people suspended to the bus like me. The bus is leaning to one side with all that weight. My hands clutch on to the bus window’s grill and the door. I realize those ladies for whom, I made way must be thinking what a “loser” I am. They are comfortably seated whilst I am hanging on like a Spiderman. Some girls think we are trying to impress them with our heroism. Please, do not confuse it with gentlemanliness! I still blame the overpopulation. Everyone is trying to impress their family, friends, bosses, colleagues and even strangers. Survival of the fittest, remember? So much so I can’t even live with good manners without being called as a “loser”.
Friends, face it. We now live in a world when a new baby is born, you worry about the resources it will need to grow up, survive and again, procreate. If it becomes unwell, it will perhaps require even more limited resources. Meanwhile it will worry about this overpopulation like me, who is standing (read as hanging) on a bus which has a capacity of thirty people but is now carrying more than fifty, while group of girls sit contentedly, perhaps even turn back (I hope), to look at this Spiderman who saved them from dangling for their lives on the footboard of 29C.
DISCLAIMER : Creativity allows writing from another’s perspective which goes beyond all existing traits, including gender, hence don’t worry till your hair turns Grey! I’m “Miss” Karthika!
Published in The Hindu Nx-G: Read online here