By Anujit Mitter
Chickens cackling in a barn, Just like this one! Remember this one line sang by phonetics professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) in the 1964 Hollywood musical comedy My Fair Lady?
Or recall the exchange between Kashibai (enacted by Lalita Pawar) and bus conductor Khanna (Mehmood), when she boards the long-distance bus with a hidden chicken in the Bollywood classic comedy Bombay to Goa (1972)?
For our member Mrs Roshan Ara Gani, a graceful pearls-and-chiffon lady with a distinct coiffure, a nightmarish bus ride a few years ago was a cruel reminder of both the movie situations.
To start with, Mrs Gani’s acquaintance, somehow, convinced her to hitch a ‘joyride’ on a public bus with him from Baruipur on Kolkata’s southern fringes to the innards of New Town on the eastern fringes. They somehow managed to board an overcrowded bus bound for their destination on the fateful day.
Somehow pushing their way inside, Mrs Gani and her male acquaintance, to their horror, found that the bus was teeming with rustic co-passengers carrying big cane baskets cackling with country chickens. Worse, bleating goats were tied around the seats and the support iron rods, giving the resemblance of an actual barn! To compound things, all the birds and animals gave off a nauseating stench.
Before Mrs Gani could recover from the shock, her relative had quietly slipped away and taken refuge in a faraway corner of the bus, afraid to face the wrath of Mrs Gani.
The best that Mrs Gani could do for the rest of the journey was to cast angry glances at him from a distance and pray to the Almighty for the 'torture' to end fast.
Years later, Mrs Gani laughs at the mirth of the situation but the bitter taste lingers in her memories.
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