A Piece of Sky 

September 21, 2023by Kripa0

On September 15th, the last double decker diesel bus rolled out on route no 415 at 2300 hours. Mumbai will miss its iconic, noisy rolling landmark but the memories will remain. Illustrator and writer Kripa, a regular 63 number commuter pens words of farewell in words – and illustrations.

You won’t understand, because you are not an adolescent girl, consciously uncomfortable in her changing body and travelling in a madly crowded city. You won’t understand the flutter and fear of walking alone to the bus stop after school, clinging on to the backpack covering my chest and hunching my back. You won’t understand the unease of a 12 year old girl doing nothing, spotted at a public bus stop alone. You won’t understand the terror of alighting a crowded bus. You won’t understand the rage, hurt, pain and abominable shame of unwanted touch. You won’t understand the inexplicable anger of bearing diminished dignity even when the scum was the touching hands. You won’t understand the dread of the next day when alighting the bus.

You won’t understand how important it was that I waited for 63 number bus. You won’t understand the joy of scrambling to the upper deck of the bus for some breathable space. You won’t understand how ‘small in the city’ at once becomes ‘tall in the city’. You won’t understand how immediately and at once there is a wave of confidence and independence. You won’t understand how change in the perspective of the city matters so much to so many people who are made to feel diminished and let down every single day. You won’t understand feeling the sky on your face in a city dwarfed and congested with skyscrapers. You won’t understand the silver lining of spotting the blue sky between the monotonous greys. 

The double decker gave me my piece of sky, you won’t understand. 

Note: the diesel double decker buses have been replaced by new, electric, noiseless ones. Will they have the same meaning?


Kripa is an illustrator and writer based in Mumbai. The characters in her books are real people derived from her association with the grassroots. Her art is rooted in her engagement with her city Mumbai, it’s children, people and their problems. She has been an Art educator for over 19 years, and worked with institutions like Srishti school of Art design and technology and is currently working with Ecole Intuit Lab.