Train like life have a fix destination, fix stops and occassionally due to unforseen conditions they do halt at the red signals in the middle of nowhere, but they don’t give up until they reach their destination. Life happens, you like it or no. Just like a passenger can miss a train by a second and that second then gets amplified due to unavailability of another train to the same destination, immediately. Life happens.
There are many trains at the train stations but the train to your destination is only one. The local at morning 6:15, this train had special meaning for all us. Who where the US? A bunch of students who did not know each others name but usually bumped into each other at 6:15 local.
This train saw us pulling crazy stunts at the door, this train saw us studying hard for the exams, this train saw us escape from enuch who walked the corridor. This train formed an unremovable part of the life of Junior college, the 20 minutes spend in the local train formed many many stories. Some nice, some not so nice.
As odd as I had taken Electornics as my specialization in Junior College, the college gave me classes only at odd hours. How odd? Early morning 7:00. Every monday and tuesday people would see me running from the house to the railway station, sometimes some familiar faces used to scold as I ran on the railway tracks.
One fine day after running as fast as we could, we reached the college only to find the notice written on the gate, ‘College closed’
Those were the days of pocket money and with 100 rs per month, going by bus was not an option. We decided to kill time on the railway station till the next train at 9:00. That gave us around an hour to kill on the platform. On the ghostlike empty platfrom we six people were loitering around, ordered a kacchi dabeli (those who don’t know this come to Pune) and sat on the walking platform stairs exactly below the board, ‘Do not sit on the stairs.’
Halfway through Kacchi Dabeli our brain cooked up a brilliant plan, ‘Lets check our weight for free’ exclaimed Kedar. The slot machines for weight checking on the platform worked on a simple principle, he explained to us. You stand on the counter and the levers inside adjust themself t0 the weight you have, when you insert a coin the ticket is printed with an occasional horrorscope or the filmstars info. So the grand plan was, we stand on the platform and Kedar the heightest among us will peep inside the machine and check at what weight the level stops. Yeah, it makes no sense now, but that day it was the best plan ever.
A homeless person saw our antics on the slot machine and for no reason starting shouting, ‘You intelligense people have no akal (brains) you only have money which I don’t have, but I am more smart that you….blah blah blah….’
We had no idea what he meant but were relieved seeing him go out but the relief was short lived, he returned this time holding a small boy in his hands. The little boy was crying, ‘Let me go…. let me go….’
People gathered around, exactly what is happening, they figured the man was the childs father, but that was not the case, which we will see momentarily. He asked the boy to stand on the platform and he put a one rupee coin inside the machine. The ticket was printed and he came closer to us to show the ticket. He proudly showed the ticket to each and everyone of us and then turned around, only to find the boys mother and father standing behind him.
After a few slaps he again recoiled in his ‘home’ and started cursing the intelligense people. That guy had missed his train, but maybe not, he did gain something out of it. Since that day, everyday for two years, he constantly got 12 rs from 6 strangers who used to travel to and fro on the platform.