BY VAISHNAVI PATIL & RYAN D’SOUZA
“Swad Zindigi Ka”, she sighs as she licks away the last crumbs of chocolate layered wafers of her cornetto, lacing the tip of her weathered fingers.
“Did you just say swag?” a squeaky prepubescent voice exclaimed.
“What? No! SWAD, I said swad. What in the world is swag?”
“Oh!” the voce had a tint of distinct disappointment, “For a second I thought you were cool dude.”
“Hey! I am cool! It’s just that this genera—“
The sound of a bus screeching to a halt in front of them distracted her from launching in to her long arduous tirade which she had performed countless of times, every time someone had pointed out her age. She muttered under her breath, getting up from the park bench, bones creaking under her. The years of her life didn’t shy from making themselves seen her crinkling visage.
Grabbing her walking stick, she hobbled to the now open bus door. The insolent kid followed her inside. The bus was fairly empty considering it was 12am in the morning and this was its first stop on its long interstate journey. The lady chose the seat closest to the driver right at the front; she sat down, her bones giving away one last creak of relief. The kid from the bus stop inexplicably made a choice of sitting next to her.
“So old lady, where are you traveling to?”
This kid is really tiresome she thought.
“My family kicked me out; I’m going to an old age home.”
“Really? Wow, that’s too bad.”
“Aren’t you going to ask where I’m heading?”
“Where are you going?”
“Yo Yo Honey Singh Concert! There is an after party as well. It is the event of the millennium, you know like #Best thing ever.”
“Oh lady, you don’t even know #’s?
“It is the zing thing you know what I mean?”
“The Zing thing?”
“The best thing, like you know.”
The lady stopped herself from questioning him further. The kid was really aggravating her now. She begun tapping her walking stick against the buses’ floor, to contain her anger just as her doctor had suggested.
“Woah! Look at that chick’s assets!” the kid murmured slyly.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
“I mean nobody can compare to my hoe of course. She is the shizz. But this piece of meat is the bomb.”
The tapping got insistent.
“I would totally rip those assets, if it weren’t for the other four people here ya know. Hey lady! Did you have bonkers like these when you were young?”
“I bet they weren’t as saggy as the sack you have now.”
The tapping stopped. The boy stopped.
The lady turned to face him. She smiled. She fumbled in her bag.
“Showing me a picture of you when –“
The impact of the bullet hitting his forehead sent the reeling backwards. He was dead instantaneously.
The four people in the bus were too stunned to scream. The driver stopped the bus. The old lady stood up taking her time with the gun in her right hand and stick in the left.
Stepping into the pool of blood, she kicked away the corpse and walked towards the driver.
“Keep driving. Every time you stop, someone dies.”
The portly bus driver knew he was not prepared for this. Sure, he had seen the films where the hero saves everyone with a flick of his finger. And after all this was a tiny old lady. One punch would be enough for her. But the driver saw her eyes and some kind of madness he had never seen before. Intelligent, intense and very very sane.
The driver revved up the bus.
The old lady turned to face her meagre audience of four people. There was a young and very scared girl, the one the corpse of a boy was describing. There was there was a couple, the woman cowering in her husband’s arms. The one right at the back was a man in his 20’s.
“Alright”, the lady smiled, ”We have an hour and a half before we reach our destination. You don’t need to worry about your life. Nobody will die tonight as long as the driver does not stop.”
“All of you stand up quietly, empty your pockets. Yes, you too my dear girl, especially you.”
“You kids always seem to have something up your pockets.” She giggled at her little joke. “Alright now all of you just do as –“
“Tut-tut-tut. Oh dear. Tried to hurt me, did you?
The young lady had shot the arm of the young man sitting at the back.
The man’s girl clattered to the floor.
“How did you get a gun sweetheart?”
“I was returning home from the army.”
The man said; clutching his injured arm. “The better question would be how you an old descript lady, has a gun.”
She cackled with joy.
“I stole it. The guard at the mental institution isn’t one of the brightest out there.”
The young girl whimpered.
“Please let me go please”, she begged, “I was just heading towards my grandma’a house. She is a dear. She looks just like you—“
“SHUT UP” the old lady turns sharply to face her. “You dare… my children…my poor children”
The husband of the couple looked up at this sign of weakness. He started speaking carefully and politely.
“Please ma’am I have a child to go to home to. Think of him as you think of your children.”
The lady walked towards him, gun still firmly clasped in her hand.
“Do you even know what happened to the? She said in a murderously low voice.
“They annoyed me just like that annoying brat on the floor.”
“They had to die.”
The man’s wife looked up from his arm’s wide eyes plus terrified.
“You killed your children?” she whispered.
The old lady inched towards her as though letting her in on a secret.
“Is this bus slowing down…”
The bullet went straight through her neck, spewing blood all over the new widower. He screamed. They a;; screamed. The driver tried jumpstarting the vehicle again in utter panic, to no avail.
A sharp smell of urine hit the air.
“Please a car is stalled in front of us; I didn’t know what to do. Instincts kicked in and I had to stop, please don’t kill me.”
“Run the car over”, the lady commanded dismissively.
The driver took a deep breath and revved up the bus. He hoped that there was no one in the car he was about to crash into.
“Oh shut up!” the lady barked at the whimpering widower. Clean yourself up at least.”
The lady walked up to him and pulling out a crisp white handkerchief started wiping the blood off his face.
“There, that is better.”
“You know I can see your attempt at puking up the gun, don’t you?”
The lady turned away from the widower and smirked at the army.
“You are evil.”
“Me! Oh no dear I am just someone who appreciates good conversation. The one’s who can’t live up to it aren’t worthy of living.
“But you see, sweety you are a threat to me. You know I can’t let you live right?”
The lady edged towards the army man. She kicked away the gun fallen on the floor a few meters away from his outstretched arm.
She cocked her gun against his temple looking deep into his fear stricken eyes. “Now dear, it’ll all be over in minute.”
The surprise plastered on her face even in death. The young girl had grabbed the gun the lady kad kicked away and had shot her from behind.
The corpse of the old lady fell onto the shocked army ma. He pushed her body away looked uo at the girl holding the gun with both her hands. She saved his life.
“You killed her”, he said.
“I just saw the opportunity and grabbed it. Jee lalchaye, raha na jaaye, I guess.”