. By T.V. Antony Raj
The passengers not knowing his real name called the rude bus conductor “Groucho”. No one ever befriended him.
On that fateful Monday morning, exasperated by the surging crowd, the conductor blew the whistle. A girl standing on the footboard slipped off the crowded bus. The rear tire ran over her body. She died instantly.
The infuriated passengers beat the bus driver and the conductor and then dragged them to the nearest police station.
The police found fault with the bad conductor for blowing the whistle too soon. They let off the driver and produced the conductor before the magistrate. After six months, the court sentenced him to death.
On the day of the execution, Edison, the bad conductor, entered the electrocution chamber. He saw the electrocution chair in the center of the room and a banana placed on it. He loved bananas. The executioners waited till the grouch finished eating the banana. They strapped him firmly to the electric chair and switched on the high-voltage current. However, the grouch survived since the electric current failed to pass through his body to his brain and heart. The judge set Edison free.
The grouch reinstated to his former job as a bus conductor did not seem to have changed even a wee bit after the ordeal he had undergone. He went about his job bent on being ruder to his passengers than before.
Three months later, on a busy Monday morning the conductor blew the whistle when a middle-aged woman tried to board the bus. Unfortunately, the woman standing on the footboard lost her balance and slipped off the crowded bus. The rear tire ran over her body. She died on the spot.
The enraged travelers after thrashing the bad conductor and the bus driver dragged them to the nearby police station.
Again, the police found fault with the grouch for blowing the whistle too soon and let off the driver. They produced the conductor before the same magistrate. The hearing as expected ended early, and the court once again sentenced the bad conductor to death.
On the day of execution, on entering the death chamber, the grouch saw two bananas placed on the electrocution chair. He ate both bananas.
The executioners strapped the conductor firmly to the electric chair and switched on the high-voltage current. To the amazement of the assembled, the grouch survived. This time too, the electric current failed to pass through to his brain and heart. Again, the judge set the grouch free.
Once again, reinstated to his earlier job with a severe warning, the bus conductor went about his job assiduously as before but was kind to his passengers.
Three months later, on a busy Monday morning he saw an elderly gentleman trying to board the bus. Remembering his earlier experiences, Edison, now no more a grouch, blew the whistle after the elderly person got onto the footboard. However, to Edison’s misfortune the old man fell off the bus and succumbed to his injuries. As before, the passengers took the conductor to the police station.
After viewing Edison’s pas record, the judge decided to set an example. He sentenced the current good conductor to death by electrocution.
On the day of electrocution when the good conductor entered the same electrocution chamber, he did not find his favourite fruit, the banana, to appease him before his death. The executioners once again strapped the him to the chair and switched on the current. This time the conductor died instantly.
At the inquest, the coroner and the officials pondered why Edison did not die on the first two occasions, but died on the third occasion. Did the banana play any part in this?
To this day this story continues to be a mystery.
Recently, a science student after hearing this story came up with a plausible answer. He said: “On the first two occasions, Edison was a bad conductor, but transformed into a good conductor just before his death.”