A five rupees jasmine ride
I had just arrived at the locally famous tank area, around two hundred steps away from my tentative accommodation place at Kolakudipatti, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu. Suddenly, a brown colored giant, with an off-yellow broad horizontal strip, emitting a loud thundering sound, stopped in front of my eyes. It was a local public bus which was about to bring me to my destination, Musiri town - I confirmed this with the three people sitting on a cemented slab at the corner of the road under the shade of a flowered Mayilkonrai tree. Though they had replied in Tamil, I understood on their gestures and actions of hands. I jumped into the bus before it moved. As I stepped in, a refreshing floral fragrance welcomed me. Before my olfactory senses could figure out the name of the food, my eyes spotted the sources of this distinct scent - the beautiful flowers wore by almost all the women here. Around one-fourth of a meter long, these gajras were hung or twisted on the back of the head with the bun or braid. They were mainly made up of fresh jasmines and Kanakambaram. My senses were taken on a journey.I asked the bus conductor for a ticket to Musiri. He said, “Inthu”. After a few seconds of silence between us, he again said, “Five rupees”. As I passed a ten rupee note to him, he put a five rupees coin and a rectangular rough paper torn at one side on my hand before I could withdraw it from the previous action. He was quick as a wink. My ears could summarize this process into just four distinct sounds - one, the rustle of the crisp paper leaf when he carefully inserted it between his fingers; two, the metallic sound of his cross-shoulder leather box’s steel push button; three, the sound of plucking the ticket from the mini booklet; four, the dull sound of putting a 6.0 gm coin on a tiny piece of paper.As the bus moved, the warm wind rushed from the windows and filled every last corner of the bus with the scent of jasmine. More than sixty percent of the total travellers on this bus were women. All of them had properly oiled, combed, and tied hair, decorated with flowers. Being an angry but helpless member of a society, who would hear news of molestation, domestic violence, female foeticide, and several heinous crimes against a woman on almost a daily basis, it felt euphoric to sit in a bus packed with women heading for their respective work places.No doubt, empowered women are the jasmines of a society. Pristine, graceful, efficacious and aromatic... The notion of society is deficient without them.I was busy with my thoughts and suddenly the bus stopped and three teenaged school-going girls stepped in. They were dressed in a rusty brown school uniform and had similar jasmines in their hair. I smiled to myself and sensed the blessing of jasmine all around me.This euphoric journey continued for more twenty minutes and then the bus stopped at the old bus station, Musiri. At the stop, I could easily find a florist shop showcasing gajras and garlands. The shop was headed by two cheerful women. I was thankful to both of the jasmines as they allowed me to capture snapshots of their jasmines.