Skip to main content

The Boy in the Train

"You'll always be late for the previous train, and always on time for the next.” 
― Piet Hein

I rejoice whenever I get a window seat on Indian trains whenever it’s a chair car (otherwise Upper Berth would be my spot), more so when it is the last seat near the door, usually marked 4. There’s always more legroom for those who get the last seat. The TTE (Train Ticket Examiner) sits in the same seat on the other column, marked 1, which feels quite safe for a single woman traveller. When I need to leave my seat for a short break, it’s the TT (in short for TTE) who would watch over my luggage. When I need to ask how delayed the train was, it was again the TT, my neighbour for the journey.

However, sitting near the TT comes with other experiences too apart from the sense of security. There would be travellers without a ticket, looking for a vacant seat, who would sit on the TT’s seat itself pretending it’s theirs and later being laughed at, when busted. There would be people coming to him complaining about this or that on the train, disturbing my long-journey-nap.

One such gentleman found his way to the TT quoting a boy disturbing them, begging for money. The TT, a middle-aged man wearing his black-and-white uniform, at once stood up from his seat and followed the young gentleman to find the peeve. I craned my neck to see a little bald head running away at the sight of the TT. A scene deserving a little giggle.

Minutes later, the TT comes back to his seat. Whatever was the issue must have been sorted by now. There’s a little guy wearing a dirty brown shirt and short-pants sweeping the coach with a tiny broomstick. A little bald head, a sheepish smile and a husky little voice that surely needs some spoons of honey to gulp, made him appear adorable to me.

He picked up two empty bottles from the floor and declared decently to the TT in a voice that was yet to attain masculinity, “ye main bottles le raha hu. Mere paas nahi hai na.”

 I smile at him and he smiles at me back. The TT shows approval and advices him all the things we wish to say to little children whenever we find them begging or working. It was evening and the boy had his excuses.

I hand him some money along with a tiny piece of candy, apart from the empty bottle that went to his collection. I realize I cannot abide my own policies of not giving money to beggars and giving them food and an earful of advices instead, so that they choose better paths. The little boy smiles at me, a front tooth missing and my heart melts along with my conscience while he shows off his earnings to the TT.

The boy later finds a sack of rice under one of the chairs and asks the TT, “TT babu, ye kiska hai?”
The TT sits straight alarmingly at his question and then relaxes once he realizes it was an innocuous rice bag. “Hoga kisi ka,” he says casually.

The boy, before leaving the coach, declares his motive, “Last stop tak nahi gaya toh main le lunga.” He smiles at me playfully after stating his point and leaves. The TT says, mostly to himself, “haan, sab le lena.” I cannot stop laughing.

My stop was the last in the train, which was delayed by more than an hour. When we finally arrive at the last stop, I scan my seat one last time. Charger picked up from the plug. The novel I was reading, kept back inside my backpack. My neck-pillow attached to one of the handles on the bag. When I saw there was nothing more I may have missed, I leave the coach to get down from the train.

I secretly wish I didn’t need something I carried, I wish I could leave something usseful to someone else. Somewhere a little boy would be gleefully looking for mistakes and forgetfulness. His little gifts.


Popular posts from this blog

The Self-Help Book

He slicks his dark black hair back with his fingers. Outside, it was broad daylight, offering his dark brown eyes a view of the western part of the city. The neighboring tall buildings remind him he is on the 22nd floor of his workplace. He finishes off the remnants of his black coffee, already cold by now. The half-smoked cigarette burns out on the ashtray. He pulls the ropes of his French window and his cabin is no longer reminded of the world outside.
 He turns his swivel chair with the support of his desk to face a laptop in front of him that wastes no time in taking him to another world altogether. The white striped shirt he is wearing with his dark grey tie match the colors on the back of his laptop that flaunt the initials “S. R.”.
* An unexpected knock on her door wakes Sheena up from her siesta. She reaches for the yellow dupatta lying carelessly on the other side of the bed, as if it was equally tired from the previous day’s work. She wears the dupatta around her neck cove…

Atrocity in a Smart-City - Bhubaneswar

Related Post - Atrocity in a Metro City - Hyderabad
I haven’t had a decent cup of tea in a long time – the kind that refreshes you within seconds. Bhubaneswar has no dearth of tea stalls that do not shy in putting enough milk in the cup. However, the hot weather doesn’t allow one to drink as many cups of tea as one would have while living in Guwahati.
After the third cup of the day, I feel nauseas. And when tea isn’t there to sweep you off your worries, everything else starts bothering you.
When I first landed in the city last year in September I was impressed by how the cabs arrive just minutes after you’ve booked one, how the roads are free of potholes in the major parts of the city, how the highway helps me travel anywhere in twenty minutes even when I live a little outside of the main city.
Perceptions do not take long to change and I am now often reminded of the quote in Sanskrit that says दूरस्थाःपर्वताःरम्याः – the hills look lovely but only from a distance.For when you see t…