The Old Man And The Bus

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When there is light rain, a rainbow can show up in the sky. On the streets, people walk faster, unless they have an umbrella. Wipers clear the views for some drivers while others allow a coat of raindrops to gather on their windscreens. Last Friday, it was raining while I was driving in Ang Mo Kio. At a traffic light junction, an old man running across the road reminded me of an incident which happened in April last year. It was Good Friday. I was driving my mother, our helper and dog home from Bishan park when it started to rain. An old man crossing the road caught our attention. He reminded me of my late father. He could be in his mid 70s. His hair was sparse and he was rather skinny. Slinging a bag from his shoulder, he was alert and appeared healthy. I began thinking of my father when suddenly this old man started to run. As he ran, he kept turning around to look behind him. I was afraid he would trip and fall in the rain.

The physical exertion created a sense of urgency on his wet face as he ran faster. Luckily, his bag was light enough. I was curious to know why he was running. Was someone chasing him? It took me a while to realise what was happening. He just saw his bus coming and the bus stop was a good fifty meters away. He was making a dash for it. But he appeared to be running against the speed of the bus he was after. Sure enough, the bus speedily reached the stop way ahead of him. I thought he would now stop running. But this old man was relentless. He did not give up. Instead of stopping, he ran even faster. Picking up speed seemed to put a further strain on his body. His face now carried a strained expression. His clothes were wet. The sight of him running in the rain was painful to watch. For a while, I felt anxious for him. I looked at the bus, then at him. I looked at the bus again, hoping it would not start moving.

The bus did not move. I did not know what was happening. After a while, it hit me. The bus was waiting for him! At this point, I felt involved. I felt I was a part of this scene. Almost like a director, shooting an old man and a bus in the rain. I slowed my car on the side of the road to see how this scene would unfold. The rain was getting heavier. I hope I was not mistaken. That the bus was really waiting for him. I counted the seconds while our runner reached the finish line. He was breathing heavily. When he finally reached the bus, he took another deep breath. His right hand reached for the door handle of the bus to pull himself up. Before I knew it, he was in the bus and it started to move along. This scene made my day. It had a happy ending. I felt I just saw a rainbow on the road. It was indeed a Good Friday. It felt like we were back in a time when people waited for one another. A less hurried and more gracious time.

When my parents started growing older, yet insisted on taking public transport, I would argue with them endlessly. It was quite futile because taking a taxi was just too extravagant for them. They would not entertain the thought. That was before the MRT became a vaible option. These days, I hold my breath when I see an old man or an old lady crossing the road. Especially when it is raining. However, maybe I should just relax a little. Maybe they know what they are doing. And maybe there are enough kind people on the road to offer a helping hand. Like this bus driver who waited for the old man. Thank you for waiting, Mr Bus Driver.

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‘As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.’ – Audrey Hepburn

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