Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mera Kuch Samaan

A couple of friends, Mian and I were having dinner together last week when the conversation turned around to the types of people on this planet.
 'Far more good than bad', I said. 'Think of any rail journey you've been to.'
'Do you really think so?' asked R
'I know so', replied I smugly

A little too smugly, as it turns out. I had cause to regret my statement just a few days later.

It happened on the way back from Delhi. We will soon be returning to our Chatola house, and so I had bought plumbing fittings when in the big city. Nothing 'designer', but reliable and sturdy. By Delhi standards, it was perhaps not much; for Mian and I that sack represented a major withdrawal on a bank account that had been added to several months 'for the house'. In addition, my rucksack was full of the foolish and vain purchases one tends to make.

Too much for me to carry, and so I said 'yes' to the first porter who approached me as I got down from the auto. I did bargain, but not much.

There was another train at the platform, and as we passed the goods compartment, the porter and I got separated. No matter, I thought, and continued on to where my compartment would be. He would be standing there and waiting for me.

I kept looking for him, but reached the end of the platform without finding him. I walked back to where I'd lost him, and again to the end of the platform. By the time I did this walk the second time, my heart was beating fast. Too many thoughts went through my mind- of how the cop asked to see the receipt for the fittings, of how the porter saw the value of the goods he was carryng for a very, very small fraction of their cost, of how terribly easy it is to walk across the dark platforms at the end and so come out into the goods yard with all its confusion. Of the foolish things I'd bought, of how I would go back empty handed.

I needed to ask for help, but my mouth was coated with something that did not allow me to speak. Swallowing was out of the question, my tongue was dry. I hooked a finger inside my mouth and cleaned it.

I was almost weeping by now.  I went up to a pair of porters standing on the platform.
'Help me. I've lost the porter who was carrying my luggage. I searched everywhere and couldn't find him'.

Something in my face told  them I was not upto conversation.

One of them indicated his shirt. I nodded. He pointed to the badge on his arm. I nodded again. He raised his hands and patted the air around him, I nodded and agreed to wait. Or maybe he was telling me to calm down.

He then told me- slowly and carefully- to go to platform 5 and he would come with me. As we turned, I saw a most glorious sight- high above the crowd, a blue rucksack and a white sack were bobbing towards me. In a scene reminiscent of a hindi romantic comedy, we ran towards each other.

'Where were you? I went to the bridge and back!'
'Where were you? I went to the end of the platform and back!'

Pretty soon, he realised what I had been afraid of. You should not worry, he said, your baggage is safe with us.

I agreed, and apologised again and again.

After he left, his colleagues admonished me further. They didn't need to, I was feeling rotten anyway.

The only thing bolstering me was the sure knowledge that I had been forgiven by the person I had wronged. As he left, he gave me a very quick, very shy, side hug.

Definitely more good people than bad, and I should remember this.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

side hug? who the hell hugs in india?

chicu said...

Really nice people who have been wronged, but don't hold a grudge. =)