“Try to move a bit, you may fall, if you won’t.” My voice broke as I said.
“I cannot. It’s too much pressure here.” She replied.
“I cannot live without you.”
“For how long would we live together?” She questioned.
“Listen, try to move back, at least for the safety of others.”
“You always think about others. How about you? How about us?” Defiance reflected in her words and I chose to keep quiet.
She is my better half for more a decade now. We began to move apart for the last one week. I never thought I would marry her when I was born and in fact, it was someone else who decided our fate.
Wait! Wait a minute. Were we married? I don’t remember. There wasn’t a function, there wasn’t a registration either. Was she my wife? I doubt.
Ours is different ecosystem. People won’t fight here, they won’t complain here. But they support each other, they help each other by bearing and sharing the pain. My name is Jack. That’s how she called me and she is Rose to me. We don’t have parents, relatives and enemies. Well, enmity evolves where differences exist. We don’t have multiple organizations, nor do we have a caste, religion and God. You misinterpret me as an atheist. I am not, we are not. We do pray, but for others.
I was born in a famous steel factory located in Ludhiana. After bearing so much pain in the making process, I was chosen as the bolt to hold the multi-leaf spring of a bus and it was then I met Rose. She was the locknut chosen to keep me in place. I don’t know where she was made, neither did I ask her. Together, we helped the shock absorbers to withstand the pressure it experienced every now and then. We never got a leave when we wanted, but often given breaks, that too when the engine was tired.
She and I aren’t close anymore. The gap increased every minute and no one had time to notice it. They cannot run the bus if I fall off the hanger and it may even end up in an accident.
“Rose.” I called her.
Her eyes were filled with tears. “Yes”
“Do you remember the day we were assembled?”
“I do. People were celebrating. They kept lemon in front of the tyres before the first run and it fell on our face when the journey began.”
“It was just a beginning.” I mumbled.
“Yes. We had gone through stones, blood and flesh then.”
“Isn’t it a dirty job God has given us? Toiling for someone with no objective.”
“Every life has an objective, Jack. Ours is to bear the pressure and we are built to do so.”
“It’s good that we are not human. At least we care for each other.”
“All are not the same Jack. We don’t know who travels in this bus and whose weight we bear daily. We could see only their sandals and how could you judge a person without knowing him?”
“But we have seen the driver, the mechanic.” I reminded her.
“Administrators are different. They care for the most important people. Tyres, engine, oil, fuel everything has been cared for.”
“Aren’t we important to them?”
“Am I not to you?” She asked.
“Of course you are. But the question…”
She intervened before I finished. “We cannot raise questions. We cannot talk to them.”
“They don’t want us to talk.”
“Because, they don’t like others coming out of their fixed zone.”
“There is no justice here. Even we machines love freedom, don’t we?”
She didn’t reply for a while and the bus hustled over a hump which almost kissed its shaft. I was fretful to see if she was fine.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“I am… I am…” She was struggling to keep herself attached to me.
“I don’t know for how long I can stick on to you.” She continued.
“Nothing will happen Rose. Someone will inspect us before the next ride.” I tried to console her.
“Next ride! I don’t think I will make it.” She was gasping while saying that.
“Hold on Rose. I cannot live without you.” I said and the bus rode over another hump without slowing a bit.
After annihilating the big strain she asked me. “Jack, which was the most satisfying Moment of your life.”
“I… I don’t remember anything now.”
“Try to recall the days we lived together. Please….”
I thought for a while and said. “The day we saved the life of a man, a 50 year old man.”
“I knew you would say this. It was truly a memorable day. He had an attack on the bus and the driver scurried through the road to save his life.”
“It was not the driver, it was we who helped each other to make the journey fast.”
“Jack, it was a combined effort. Let him take the credit, we are not humans.” She reminded me.
“Yeah, they do compete to etch their names on foundation stones, hoardings and banners.”
“Which was the most annoying day?” She asked again.
“Oh so many!! In fact, there were nights when we had to bear the pressure of human barbarity a number of times.”
“Yes… Those were extremely painful.”
We didn’t speak for a while and I broke the silence. “Yes, you were correct. All aren’t bad, but it’s difficult to pick the right ones.”
“We have seen many drivers. There were good and bad. We cannot change them, but the people who have the choice aren’t exercising it.”
“It’s very difficult and I thank God again that we are not humans.”
“What would happen, if I fall down before this journey ends?” She asked.
“You won’t. Rose, be strong. I won’t let you go.” I raised my voice.
She had a mild laugh and said. “Like the drivers, when someone step-down another one will take over the mantle.”
I kept quiet and the bus began to shake uncontrollably. It took an untarred road and ran without reducing its speed. I felt her moving further to my tail end.
“Rose.” I called her.
She replied something, but her voice faded away in the loud noise the engine and tyres were making.
“Do you really love me?” She asked.
I looked into her eyes and before I could reply, I was thrown out of the hanger where I spent all my life with her. I hit the engine many times and fell on the stones which were sharp and pointed. The bus got stopped after dragging for half a kilometer and the crowd gathered around it. No one noticed me, no one searched for me. After all, I was useless for them all those days and why should they bother. I looked around for Rose, but only stones were visible to my eyes!