I never thought that trains could get so crowded. Certainly not at this time of the night. Someday, when this ordeal is over (or so I hope) I fear that I would have got so used to it that I would actually miss it. Till then I try to make the most of it.
But yesterday was different. I got a seat in the train in the morning. What it means is that everybody else got a seat. Quite unwittingly, I have come to acquire a burden of a conscience that does not permit me to sit in the train if anybody else is standing. Of course, anybody covers a gamut of women starting from school kids in white shoes (poor kid, - if she stands somebody will surely step over her shoes) schoolgirls studying in the train (if she does not sit, how would she study?) girl going to college (she’ll get exhausted if she continues to stand), woman going on a holiday (such a huge traveling bag- she must sit) woman going to office (you ought to start the day with a seat in the morning train) old women- no excuses- they must sit- if necessary at the cost of unseating somebody else.
But yesterday, I say it again, was different. While was I coming back, I got a seat once but gave it away to an old lady hoping that I would get a seat soon. Strangely enough, I did not get another seat and a tragedy of this scale occurring at 8PM at night when trains are not very crowded, surely ranks as a catastrophe. Add to it, the fact that I was carrying home a bulky book and the thought of studying through the weekend was weighing down my shoulders as well as my morale. In a compartment where there was not enough place to stand, hawkers were moving about seamlessly, gliding through the multitude and savagely competing with one another to sell bananas and ear rings. At regular intervals, I took to shifting my weight from my left leg to my right. A few women were examining cushion covers and the girl standing next to me was reading a newspaper. I thought I spotted a friend, but before I could wave to her, the climax of our most extra-ordinary journey took place. A man got up in the ladies compartment, and amidst the entire din, started singing an awful song, and begged for alms in the meantime. If Satyajit Ray had been present, he would have surely used this shot as the opening scene of his next art film. I would be the protagonist looking calmly at the pandemonium, while thinking wistfully about the SQL query that I left behind in office and ways to improve it. I would be taking a stoic view of the situation and when my train reached my destination, aah! Cut the crap. Baba is here…………..