One of the biggest problems one has to face on a long- distance train journey- on a waitlisted ticket- is that of sleeping. One can stay awake for a night; for two straight nights- the task becomes nigh impossible.
Here was I, on the last leg of my journey. “Another twelve hours”, I said to myself. “Then I can sleep in the comfort of my house.”
But my body wouldn’t listen to my head.
I requested TT for a seat, but no free berths were available. He sincerely said sorry for no mistake of his, and insisted that I share his seat, which I did.
For an hour, the journey was ok; then sleep started to take hold. I almost fell down once; the TT guy offered some help. “The next station is 4 hours away, sir. You can sleep between the berths- I think some space might get vacant at Palakkad.”
I did the same.
After what seemed like a few seconds, I heard some agitation. Some middle-aged man was shouting somewhere far away. The voices grew big, and I had to get up. As it turned out, the shouts were against me. I hardly understood a thing.
The arrival of my TT friend was inevitable. I managed to catch some words here and there, like ‘mobile’ and ‘luggage’.
Middle aged uncle went on a speech-spree; TT stood silently for a few moments, and said a few words. No one spoke anything- until the TT said “come, sir. I think I have found a seat for you.”
I followed him, and the people who were involved in that argument watched me leave in silence. It was all confusing; I had to know what happened.
“What was that all about, sir?” said I.
“These people… they think everybody is after their possessions. It’s ok to be cautious, but to insult someone like that, it was outrageous.”
“Those people thought I was a thief?”
“Yes sir. And if you understood the language, I think that man would have got at least a slap.”
“Oh. And why was he so quiet when we were about to leave? Why did you say to him?”
“That the sandals you’re wearing is costlier than his mobile.”
Well, this is a direct extension of the ‘no more entrained’ post. People from lower rungs of society were mentioned there. Never thought I’d come face to face with the middle class mentality that makes others act violently this soon; but this, as they say, is how reality works. Guarding one’s possessions is one thing, and insulting others is another. Once we understand the existence of the fine line- and try not to violate it- the problems that exist may no longer exist.