Friday, March 27, 2009

Hope and helplessness

On a light Gudi Padwa evening. I board a relatively empty train from Elphistone station. I sit at the window, letting my mind wander. In 15 mins, my mind jerks to the present as the train jerks towards the Bandra station. I see a very old lady, decently dressed in a saree, with whispy grey hair and immense dark circles, struggling to reach the second class ladies compartment, which is just behind mine (first class compartment). Will she reach? Oh no! I panic. She cant walk fast. And the second class compartment is 10 times more crowded than first class where there are hardly 4 of us. Oh no.. the train jerks and starts moving slowly. I see she has just made it. She gets in. I relax and turn back to the window ready to get lost in thoughts.

'Beta, breast cancer hai. Operation ke liye madad karo', I happen to hear and I turn back in a nanosecond, to find that same old lady clutching her bag with one hand, and begging with other hand to those train passengers. I get shaken out of my reverie. She isn't crying, she isn't a tattered beggar either, nor is she pleading.. she has the look of 'i will do what it takes.' in her eyes. No one responds. No one. I look back outside the window, completely shaken. My Ipod chooses to play the song 'sapno se bhare naina' exactly at the same time. It aggrevates the feeling. The train stops at Khar. I find this time, the lady slowly struggling to get into my compartment. 'Beta, breast cancer hai. Operation ke liye thodi madad karo'. I amnt thinking logical. I dont want to. Worst come worst she must be lying, duping, talking crap. I have no means to verify. All I know is that for a lady of her age, in that condition, where she can barely walk, barely stand straight, even lying is a burden. I give her 10 Rs. But the guilt within me instead of dying, doubles. What must've happened to her? Is she doing  this out of choice? Or is she doing it because she doesnt want to give up? Looks like the latter. The rest in my compartment refuse to even look at her. They are infact staring at me and giving me the 'you-ppl-encourage-them' looks. Next station, she alights and boards the adjacent first class compartment. Only one girl is sitting there. And she doesnt respond. The old lady sighs and sits down with her head resting on the metal bars. At Parla, she alights the train, and stands right in front of the second class ladies section. Perhaps, to board the next train, with as much hope, that someone might not think rationally, and she might finally earn a rupee. Hope and Helplessness.. 

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