As always the train had been late. Heavy rains had hit the city by surprise. Full one week earlier than predicted by our sharp MET dept. As i stood there on the platform, looking around at people trying to find shelter from the heavy downpour, couldn’t help but feel so victorious about carrying my blue umbrella. Better safe than sorry, that’s what dad says.
Just then i felt a tug at my trousers. A kid, no more than 8 years, accompanied by another “blind” girl, of maybe 12 years, were asking for money. I rolled my eyes and ignoring them poured my entire attention into my smartphone.
I had always been skeptical about giving money to the beggars. My dad always said, they are professionals, who would rather beg than work for a living. He would say,if any beggar troubles you, just look at it sternly and tell it to come work at our home instead. This would drive them away everytime.
So i had developed, a cold heart towards beggars.
Over the years of my stay in the city i also realized that not only were these beggars growing in number but that they seemed a part of an organization. You could see the same beggar at the same place begging for hours without getting any alms and still be there the next day. They were everywhere now – traffic signals, train stations, beach, outside restaurants, on streets, etc.. they are like the people who work in shadows. Thus it lead me to even fear them as i grew older..
What if, this organization, they are a part of, in some way tilts the security scales of the city on daily basis.. trading information right from underworld to the police officials.. could be possible!
Such fears develop, when you live in a city with a major terror attack, on frequent occasions. Fear like virus keeps working from the back of your mind, always making you question the motives of everyone around you. In a way maybe killing a part of humanity.
As i was thinking all this, i saw the train had arrived. It was time to set everything in action. Catching a train in the rush hours, was like playing rugby, with everyone against you. Tempers flying high, people catching hold of bars, handles, sometimes people themselves.. anything and everything that will help them stick together till their destination. Very very dangerous. Every time you have to do a risk assessment of Time to reach office and Security of your life.. depending upon this you do, what has to be done.
Today I was really late. I had to board this train, which was already full up to its max point. Quickly i closed the umbrella and jammed myself into the crowd. I got space to place one feet and most of my body in balance. Lucky! More people tried to get in, seems like everyone was late today. I was just glad to have found space. Had held on to inside bar, placed one feet above the other..we tried pushing in.. but everyone on the inside,is a squeezed lemon,pushing outwards for air. So a state of equilibrium has to be adjusted before the train starts.
Just then the train started, a push from inside came outward towards us like a wave..I felt it before anyone else on the boarding rail of the train..i held on tight.. but the man on my left lost his balance and fell..frantically,he tried to hold on to something, and that something turned out to be my umbrella, on the side of my bag..He fell bad on his back just as the train started gaining speed..I saw all this from the corner of my right eye..saw my blue umbrella go with him, left behind.
But I got space to place my second feet now.
Rest of the day in the office went by swiftly. Customers coming in and going,arguments all around, work being stalled due to electricity cuts, puddle of water in and around the office, boss shouting orders, employees screaming at each other..I Hate rains!
I was already dripping wet as I reached, the platform to catch the train back home. The wonderful part was, again it was the rush hour time..the usual crowd going back home. But this time along with all anger and frustration of their day.. so it gets worse. A regular fight or two, of raised voices, can be expected in such times. People venting out their anger, before reaching home.
All you do is stand there like a corpse, waiting for your destination to arrive, and get dragged out with the entire crowd, getting down..That is routine!
And so after 45 min of train journey, I stood on the platform waiting for the heavy downpour to at least reduce a little.. my next task was to get to the rickshaw stand 100 meters away. I tried asking people around, with umbrellas, if I could get cover, till the stand..
No one seemed interested, ignored me and walked by hurriedly.
I was tired and hungry. Longed for a good bath and hot dinner, with nice sleep.. but it was one hurdle away..I Hate rains!
Just then, I felt a tug at my trousers. I looked back and saw it was, the same 8-year-old kid from morning. He held my blue umbrella in his little hands.
I stared blankly. I was confused. He smiled and offered it to me.. all i could do was, with some sense of guilt take the umbrella from the kids hand. He blinked twice as we had our last eye contact and I turned into the rain to cross the hurdle to reach my home..
But something in me didn’t feel right. I couldn’t take another step.. I stood there, few meters from the waiting rickshaw. Looked back to see the kid still there.. taking shelter under a small shade, with the blind girl by his side. I walked back. I had to.
I gave the kid my blue umbrella and a 50 rupee note. I still felt guilty, since all this felt not enough..
But the kid. He looked up and smiled with bright eyes..
.. That was all it took..I turned around and walked back, getting drenched in the rain.
But this time with a smile.
I realized, I do love rain..