After spending a month in hospital battling typhoid fever, I am trapped in the nadir of despair. Although I have been discharged I feel so forlorn and alone. I cannot place why I feel this way but it is so palpable.
Even pleasantries irritate me. I just want to be by myself. Behind my house there runs a lonely twisting road. I had never asked where this road led, but it was to this mysterious road I was drawn. It matched my mood.
As I walked with my hands behind my back I mumbled to myself, as showers of sorrow fell down like arrows. It was as if I was carrying all the burdens of the world on my frail shoulders.
I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I almost bumped into the bus, it just appeared from … nowhere. Its engine was running and the parking lights were on as if it was waiting for someone, but there was nobody in sight.
I stopped at the driver’s window and asked politely, “Hope no problems sir, or are you waiting for someone?”
He must have been dozing, because he started in surprise.
He looked strangely familiar in the growing gloom but I was sure I had never met him.
“No problems at all young man. We are beyond all problems now. Hop in, it’s you we have been waiting for.”
“Me?” I gasped in surprise. “I am not going anywhere.”
“Yes, I know. Look at the words on the side of the bus.” He laughed, tapping the side of the bus.
I drew back and in the growing gloom I could barely make out the words: ‘The bus to nowhere’.
I looked at him in puzzlement and he nodded. Then he whispered, “If you really feel so down and depressed, and you would rather give up than face your problems then come with us! Anywhere, nowhere, it’s all the same. Get in, there is only one more seat.”
The way he said it, it was like a trip to an exotic tropical Island, and strangely I was sorely tempted to take this crazy chance, to just leave everything behind and go with them to nowhere, anywhere, wherever.
Something impelled me, something summoned me, and my whole existence flashed past my mind. I stood there wavering, and I finally managed to stammer, “But I have no fare, no luggage, nothing at all!”
“Yes, I know. You don’t need no ticket or luggage for the journey to nowhere, all you need is sorrow and disillusionment and you have got plenty of that. Just get on board, we have been waiting for you quite a while.”
I took a step closer to the door and looked into the bus, and I saw them, all people that had gone to the great gathering: Jay, my friend who died one beautiful Christmas morning; Edions, who disappeared ten years ago; Victor who drowned in the Mediterranean in his quest for better fortunes.
There was only one fellow on that bus who was alive the last time I saw him. He was the kid next to my bed in hospital. He had tetanus then. And really there was only one empty seat left.
I took another step towards the door then the boy turned and stared at me. He held my eyes for some seconds and then shook his head imperceptibly. I jumped back as if I had been bitten by a cobra, and turned just in time to catch the look of extreme disappointment on the driver’s face.
“Come on now,” he tempted. “We are running late.”
But the spell had been broken; I took a deep breath and screamed, “I will go nowhere with you, devil begone!”
Without another word, he engaged the gear and slowly drove away. As the bus disappeared into the misty night I saw another inscription written behind. It read,
HOPE IS LIFE. NEVER LOSE IT.
I awake on the hospital bed, surrounded by nurses, doctors and my mother; they are all chattering and jabbering excitedly, “Thank God, thank God.’’
“Young man,” says the doctor, “you gave us quite a scare! You have been in a coma for a week!”
“I had lost all hope,” cries my mother with tears of joy.
I struggle to speak. The images are blurred and my tongue heavy.
“Doctor,” I croak, “how is the boy with tetanus?”
“Oh, he is fine, I just examined–”
He is cut short by the piercing scream of the boy’s mother, “Doctor! Doctor!”
He rushes off and returns despondent, “The fellow just passed on…”
“Mother,” I say, “I had a dream. Never lose hope.”