On World Humanitarian Day (19th August), I remembered an incident of my adolescent years.
Once, I was travelling with my mom and elder sister. It was a day journey and we entered the ladies compartment of the train. It was crowded but we got seats and settled down. We kept our luggage under the seats and waited for the train to start. Ladies kept on coming inside. The seats were quickly taken. Only one seat was empty, when a woman with a baby entered. She was about to go over to the empty place, when a burly looking man entered and strode over to the empty seat, sitting down with a thump. The lady with the child held on to her bag and stood in a corner. I was watching all this with a frown. I expected the woman standing there or any of the other ladies to speak out asking the man to leave the ladies compartment.
Alas! No one spoke. My mom and sister had their eyes shut trying to rest, unaware of anything wrong. I decided I could not disturb them. I kept on seething with frustration, wanting to help in some way. I would have offered my place but I was already squashed between my mom and sister, both of ample proportions. The train had started and was gaining momentum minute by minute. The woman standing was swaying to and fro with the train’s speed, the screaming child in her arms. The manner less man had no reaction. I could take it no longer.
I got up and walked calmly over to him. I asked him if he could read. He made a bad face saying sure he could. Next, I asked him to read what was written on the back of his seat. He did so and saw ‘Ladies’ written on it. He got the point and left the compartment in a big hurry, almost falling. The lady with the baby thanked me profusely and sat down with a smile on her tired countenance. There were general giggles and clapping all around.
Contributed by Madhuri