Few seconds of being recognized

Something that I saw, on my way to work, was share-worthy, so here…

I was on my way to work, in the Chennai sub-urban train. There are 7 stations between boarding and my disembarking. One of the most crowded stations is Mambalam station. One commonly observed behaviour is everyone is in a hurry, when they get off the train, on their way to work. Lot of school kids too take the train, even they are in a hurry. Even with trains at a frequency of 1 in 5 minutes everyone is in a hurry, safe to assume that everyone (at least those that are in a hurry) take the last possible train to reach their destination on time.

platform no 10, egmore,chennai

So it was this particular day. Two school kids were in the same compartment as me, I don’t quite remember if we were IN the train, or hanging out and TRYING to be in the train, but we were definitely with the train. Must’ve been in 10th standard and 8th standard. They were looking at the watch and seemed worried that they might be late to school. Mambalam station came, it was crowded, nothing unusual. The two disembarked and started running towards the staircase, which one has to take to get out of the station. Lucky for them the staircase was close the compartment they were in.

In the midst of this hurrying crowd, people trying to get in, some trying to get out, some searching for the right compartment to board, there was this oldish man, slowly moving in the chaos. He was close to the compartment where I was standing. He was in no hurry, he looked to be in early 70s, in a traditional attire with a sling-jute-bag hanging down his shoulder. He had a notebook in his hand, hearing aid on his ears. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to board the train or he had disembarked and was trying to get out of the station. He was in his own thoughts, deliberating on something, seemed a bit worried, perhaps his wife’s health.

As the kids, in a hurry, ran past this man, the younger of the two looked back and gave the old man a second look. Both of them had reached the stairs and were about to climb, when suddenly the younger one came running to this old man. The elder one didn’t know what happened and stood near the stairs and stared at the direction towards which the younger kid ran. As soon as the kid reached this old man, he smiled at him, the old man didn’t recognize the boy. Then the boy said something to the old man, gestured as if to say “you remember me from….” and the old man smiled, took the boys hand and had a VERY VERY short conversation. The boy bent down and touched the old man’s feet, took his blessings and ran to the stairs. His brother (boys!) didn’t get the sentiment, scolded the younger one as they both climbed the stairs and ran.

As the train started pulling out of the station, I could see the old man stand in that same place, but this time, he was smiling.


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