Madam Rides the Bus – Summary

This is a sensitive story of an eight year old girl, Valli’s first bus journey into the world outside her village. At a very tender age, she tries to understand the mystery of life and death in her own terms.


Valliammai, Valli for short, was an eight year old girl who wanted to know a number of things. She had no one to play with. A bus ran between her village and the nearest town and Valli longed to travel by that bus.

Listening to people who had travelled by the bus, she gathered little details about the trip. She decided to gather enough money to travel by it. When she had the required money, she went on the bus.

The conductor was surprised to see a young girl, travelling by herself but jokingly called her ‘Madam’ and offered her the front seat. Valli observed everything very carefully e.g. the trees that seemed to be running towards them, a cow that suddenly moved in front of the bus and so on.

When they reached the town, Valli gaped at everything in amazement—the big shops and so on. The conductor asked her to get down and have a look at the sights, but Valli refused. She said that she had come only for the bus ride. The conductor offered to buy a cold drink for her but she refused.

On the journey back, Valli saw a young cow dead by the roadside. The conductor told Valli that it was the same cow they had seen earlier. Valli felt sad. The memory of the cow haunted her. When they reached the village, the conductor told her to come again, but to remember to bring the fare. When Valli reached home, she found an aunty with her mother. Her mother asked her where she had been. Valli did not reply but only smiled secretively.

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