Someday, 2:38 pm – Madgaon Railway Station
A young twenty something walked in through the hustle and bustle at the station. Even in such a place, where the crowd consisted of millions, you could spot this smashing gentleman from the moon. Looks lurking around the average, not very tall, and dressed in a simple shirt, jeans and sneakers attire, there was no reason why he should have been distinguishable from anyone else with a similar description. However, a few seconds around him and you could tell he was god’s gift to this world. How aware was he of this, who knows?
He had flown in from the greatest city in the country (New Delhi, for you rare, delusional ones who think it’s, ughh… Mumbai), had tandoori chicken and beer for lunch, took a thousand rupee cab to the station, where he had a seat in the AC coach that would take him to his extremely overpriced (and overrated) college.
“Coach C1, seat 33. C1, C1, C1…” he said to himself, alternating his gaze between his not so latest but still good smartphone and the never ending array of train coaches. In thirty-eight degrees of heat. After scanning the entire train thrice and not being able to locate his coach, he figured maybe he was on the wrong platform. So once again, he picked up his luggage, climbed up the stairs, crossed the overhead bridge to the other side, all the while simultaneously dodging people’s armpits being shoved in his face and dog excrement under his feet. Obviously, he was on the right platform before. He picked up the luggage, crossed over again, and decided to ask for help from the unfortunate seventh member in a seat meant for three, whose face was pretty much hanging out of the window by now, and would be for the next five hours.
“Bhaisahab, is this XYZ Express ? “
“ Which way is coach C1? “
“ AC coach? “
“Maybe towards the front. This is the general coach “
Having checked “the front” thrice already, he picked up his luggage with one hand, blocked his nose with the other, and crossed over to the other side to the station master’s office. “AC coach scrapped today, not enough reservations. Go talk to the TC, he’ll give you another seat.”
Fifteen minutes later, the young man was sitting in his Non-AC coach, still just as smashing, but visibly pissed now.
Same day, 2:38 pm – Madgaon Railway Station
“Get out of here, you filthy beggar” shouted the cashew vendor. It being India, there were more beggars in the vicinity than cashews, but the vendor shouted at one in particular. He wasn’t even begging. He was asking if he could sit next to the shop for a few minutes, but who would care about what he was about to do. Most people in the world would ask this man to get away if he tried to approach them. He obviously hadn’t cleaned himself in weeks, hadn’t eaten or had any water for days, was barely dressed in a pathetic excuse for a kurta and was most likely ridden with disease(s). Anybody who looked at him would say he could drop dead anytime. But then again, not a lot of people looked at him.
Having just been insulted for the fourth time that day, he walked away from the cashew vendor, heavily leaning on his walking stick, looking for the next spot of shade to sit under or scrap of food to eat. Eventually, he came across one of the many trash cans installed in the station. He leaned into it as deep as his spine would allow, and started going through its contents. Three feet deep worth of foul smelling waste that you and I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Eventually, he came across a half eaten piece of bread. He picked it out, kissed it, and proceeded to enjoy every last bit of it. It was the highlight of his day. He then did something unimaginable. He touched the rim of the trash can, touched his fingers to his forehead and then kissed them, as a sign of respect. He looked up to the sky with his eyes closed and a broad smile on a face ecstatic with gratitude.
Looking at the whole scene from the window of his Non AC coach was god’s gift to this world, currently lost for thought. Here was a man, who had less than nothing but could still find a reason to be happy and grateful.
What’s my excuse now?