Camera guy

At least the seat had an arm-rest he could lean on. “Stigmata Martyr” was playing on his headphones and he felt dizzy like the droning tune of the song, winding down the bumpy road on his latest assignment.

There was only one route bus to this little-known town and it left at 4:30 AM from Majestic. Naturally, following Bangalore standard time, the bus was canceled, then later reported as en route, then rerouted and finally, all the passengers were put on an express bus at 5:30 AM. Sorry, not sorry.

Hunger was calling out to him. First with little tugs to get his attention and then it began groaning out a raga in his stomach. He wished he had taken the packet of Kurkure lying on his workstation. Too late for that now. He checked his watch. 6:30. Hopefully, the driver gets hungry and they stop for breakfast.

He closed his eyes and took a nap.

There was someone yelling beside him. A hawker was shoving a packet through the window and onto his lap. He glanced at the packet of dried peas then realized the bus had stopped. He threw the peas back at the hawker and stomped out the bus. Then rushed back inside to grab his insanely expensive camera with the unbelievably delicate lens his boss had entrusted to him.

“Even if you don’t come back, ensure the lens does,” his boss had told him the previous night.

The bus stand was pretty seedy with just a few shacks that served small meals and hot tea. He followed the bus driver and conductor into one of the shacks and asked for a plate of dosa. The guy-in-charge told him they didn’t have it. They only had idlis and vadas so he got a plate of those and a cup of tea.

The tea filled his nerves with the slight burst of energy he needed to wake up. He looked around the eatery and spotted a young boy staring at him. When their eyes met, the boy ambled over. The boy pointed at the camera and asked “Photo?” It was clear he wanted his picture taken.

The camera was quite fancy and if it had a voice it would have definitely made a scene about how carelessly its owner had been using it. It already had a chip on its side and longed for its owner to get a soft cloth to rub it down. It was one of those high maintenance items.

The boy and the camera guy were near the bus now. He had taken some nice pictures of the boy in different filmy poses and the boy was beaming. The boy wanted his own copies and the camera guy sheepishly agreed. They shook hands and exchanged numbers. “I’ll WhatsApp them to you,” the camera guy said.

The bus continued on its journey and the camera guy swiped through the pictures on his camera. He annoyingly smiled at those he considered were really good and winced seeing the ones he didn’t find appealing. The bus was speeding over a dilapidated bridge, spanning a river with farmland on both sides. The camera guy spotted some cranes in the distance and adjusted his lens to get a good shot.

There was some commotion in front of the bus as the driver and conductor yelled out obscenities. The bus swerved as if to avoid something in the road and the passengers lurched like canned beans sliding into a pot. The camera slipped out its owners hands, and if it had a voice it would have been screaming. A perfect 10 as it slit through the surface and created a costly ripple. The bus followed.