It is about six o clock in the morning.The sky is still dark as it ought to be on a rainy day.My clothes are wet from walking in the drizzle.Yet that does not stop me from grabbing the window seat.MY next seat neighbour is gnarling owing my blatant refusal to down the window shutters.The chill wind searing at my face is the only thing that helps me keep awake on this journey through ennui in the mornings,as i get to college.
About five stations from my home,a very old man staggers into the train.He looks like a lost fragment from a very ancient past.HE struggles to balance his frame on his two legs and the umbrella-cum-walking stick.The gyrations of the train add to his discomfort.I get up and help him to my seat.I ask him where he is headed to,and wondering what such an old man is doing at this hour in a mumbai local train alone.He tells me he has to get down at kurla.I ask him if he is alone,for which i receive an answer in the affirmative.Me next passenger,who by now is awake,croons,"Chacha,you should not travel at this hour alone.The train is going to get very crowded in the next station.How do you think you are going to get down?" Though the question was very rude,it was poignant.I wondered what the old man was thinking when he got in.
The train is chugging at a steady pace theough locales which have begun to stir.A steady queue of people 'sitting on the tracks' is visible.The crowd inside has quadrupled in the last few stations.The ocassional squabbles have begun.The old man meanwhile is asleep.I look at him.He looks to be about eighty,at least on the better part of seventy.He is dressed in a white kurta as wrinkled as his face.His knee-length dhoti is dirty.He rests his hand on his long umbrella,the old kind.I wonder who he is.Maybe he has escaped the insults and travails of his house.Or he could be a destitute.Or maybe he isjust a newly arrived migrant.Suddenly he startles to consciousness.He looks around,and is slightly terrified of the airless vaccuum that he is caught in.He looks at me and asks if kurla is past.I negate him.After a few minutes of sitting on the fence he asks me where i am getting off.
I am caught in a fix.The old man just told me if it was possible for me to help him get down at kurla.I was already late for my class.Not that i had ever made it in time.BUt going out of my way to help an unknown septuagenerarian through the merciless mumbai crowd would be a herculean task.What if he gets injured while i try to push him through that crowd.I don't want to get into trouble.I decided it was best to slip away while the oldie was asleep.Look,I ain't very proud of this thing,but i have certin limitations.
So VDVHr arrives,and i push my way through the crowd.I land on the platform.In those few seconds,of my feet touching solid ground and the train settin into motion again;My heart went through turbulence.I was still conteplating on what i should do.THen in a flash,i decided.I got in.Pushed my way through the crowd.I don't know how i did it,but i reached the compartment.The seat was empty.Then i saw a glimpse of the dhoti standing out like a pigeon in the middle of a pack of wolves.I pushed and shoved my way through to it.
The old man is right there.He is supported on his legs by a young boy my age.I guess,he must have been in the compartment at that time.I might not have noticed him.He looks at me and smiles.The old man says,"Looks like you forgot me".I apologise sheepishly.The station comes and we help him get down.We ask him if he would find his way from here.He says yes.I trust him,I have no other choice.
Back in my lecture i think about my actions.I am not a very noble guy.In fact,if i could be classified as noble the world would be ruled by the devil.Yet I do know that what i did was despicable.Though i am a member of a NSS group,i did something that was thoroughly disgraceful.Abandon a helpless soul in his most distressed time.The boy who helped him,wasn't asked.He could've gone on without a feel of guilt in his heart.Yet he stepped up to do the job.Why?Because everyday we have a chance to do something .Make something happen.create a difference.I ran away from that chance.He didn't