It was a humid winter evening. The stars defeated by the clouds of pollution meekly peeped out of their hiding places. The dust settled all over my body. Travelling in a Mumbai local's second class compartment almost gives a feeling of being huddled to some concentration camp!! I wouldn't go deeper into the description of the local's because its a whole world in its own and I have limited time resources!! An old, very old lady found her way next to me in the train. She must be around 75 years of age, a hunched body, a pink saree wrapped without much accuracy, silver shining hair without the slightest speck of black in it and an excited, nervous smile of a 10 year old standing in the queue of an amusement park. To sum it up, she was very cute!!
She looks at me with with a nervous expression and asks "Utarneko milega?". Will I be able to get off? I cannot say whether her voice shivered due to the nervousness or the old age. "Haan haan". Yes. I said it with all the conviction to make her feel better. She immediately clinged onto my hand for support. It's strange how babies and old people demand support and security without any hesitation. It's yet more strange that you cannot not support them no matter how weak you are yourself!! I put my other arm around her shoulder to ensure she doesn't lose her balance. As Andheri station arrived closer my heart started beating fast!! "Shit, what if she falls? What if she misses the station! What if she lands up somewhere else and is lost", I thought to myself. Inwardly I shivered a little.
Thankfully I wasn't the only one kind in the train. The women (surprisingly) were patient enough to wait till she gets off. I wrestled my way out. As soon as I got off she managed to cling onto me again. I'll have to confess that though I'd love to help her I didn't intend to go ahead and ask her if she needed help. That, however, didn't matter as she had already assumed I would help!! "Mujhe rickshaw tak le kar ja, bhavan's college jana hai". Get me a rickshaw I have to go to Bhavan's college. She was more enthusiastic than I expect a 75 year old to be. Her enthusiasm made me a little sick. She almost ran behind rickshaws and I ran behind her to make sure she doesn't fall!! I couldn't take the thrill of it any longer. I asked her to wait till I get her a rickshaw. When she finally got into one she blessed me with a flying kiss!!
I walked to my bus stop with the thoughts of the day on my head. The bus was, as usual, crowded. I stood in the bus holding onto the rod. My eyes met the eyes of a man sitting ahead of me. H was a shabby looking fellow with a huge moustache and dark, burnt skin. It was that one second. That one second when our eyes held one another in their arms. He immediately got up and offered me his seat. The smiling face of my old lady suddenly flashed before my eyes as I comfortably sat in the crowded bus!