Time flies by when women shop.It was one such fun day in kochi,a few years back. The culprits were my mom and my aunty.Believe me,I was too young to understand the value of such an opportunity and thus was more or less a victim to their diabolical shopping spree.My mom and aunty,it seemed,had taken an oath that they wouldn't spare the touch of a single cloth in the shelves of a multistoreyed building which,obviously or probably, could be the largest silk showroom in “The World”.But time and tide waits for no man or..woman. We had booked tickets for the evening train ,a superfast train which unlike all the other trains, reaches the station on time,5.30. When the bill was paid and the multitude of bags were delivered the clock ticked 5. I wondered if the clock too wanted to catch train because its hands were rushing towards 5.30. Tucked beneath many bags in an auto rickshaw that was definitely under Hermione's undetectable extension charm,were my aunty,my mom and me. A journey through the roads of kochi is like enjoying a free adventurous ride in a theme park except that there is no seatbelt or any gurantee for safety. The roads arrogantly screamed,“Though I may be the cause, I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR LOSS OF VALUABLE (life).It is the responsibilty (and concern) of yours and yours alone.”
Toppled and tumbled somehow we managed to reach the station. And now comes the mountaineering. I bet you ,if you utter the name of god sincerely and climb those narrow ,sloppy steps that leads to the platform carrying two heavy bags on both the limbs of yours,he is likely to liberate you from much of the Karma of previous births.But we were running out of time and wits.My mom and aunty who had clad their beautiful sarees elegantly tucked it around to one side and was ready for the climb,looking messy.You see,fashion and style shall never hinder any woman from reaching their goal. The auto driver,a gentleman,looked at the 3 of us and the bags,he blinked at the hugely disproportionate number of bags and looked at us. He immediately swung into action.He helped us carry the bags and we finally reached the far away land named “platform”.By the grace of god,the train was still there,waiting and frowning. The auto driver helped us carry the bags and we reached th seats.Finally!! We kept the bags in their places and sat.We smiled at each other and breathed a sigh of relief.We made it.All that's well ends well. .......And all that is not???
I shall tell you. It just keeps getting worser.
Three belligerent passengers attacked us for usurping their seats and which on further scrutiny of the tickets was not an allegation but a fact.And thus the plight of the people with too many bags continued. The stress that I give on the number of bags again and again is because it really was stressful. The train had a chaircar arrangement .There was space in the middle through which one person could barely walk. If someone came towards you, you had to have had some training in gymnastics or experience in weight lifting.So people opted the easier way; to place the burden on the shoulders of aisle-side seated people,who were a lot likely to become quite humble by the end of the journey by sharing many a man's burden.Amidst their stares and curses,we struggled to get through. True to the dictum,it just kept on getting worser.We realised that we had to go through many compartments to reach ours.It was impossible to move on.But fatigue can give you ideas and also the courage to believe in them.My mom stopped an IRCTC employee,a Chai waala ,a man who distributes chai in the train.She asked him for help. He was a north indian who was addressed by many as bhai.He was tall and seemed custom made to render this favour to us.He carried the bags in his shoulder and the heights of his kindness and his stature matched.He troubled no one and walked swiftly with 2 or 3 bags and we could easily manage with the rest.And finally we reached our compartment.He placed the bags neatly in its place,helped us get seated and did not accept any money we offered him and went away with a smile.At last we were in our very own seats.Seated comfortably we enjoyed that evening by having chai from our bhai.
Today,many years have passed after the incident. I work in the city of Kochin now. I travel home every weekend in that same old train. He was no where in my memories and in fact I didn't expect that he would be in the same train. But the towering figure cannot be missed.He comes swiftly holding chai kettle to every compartment. He is still the same old bhai. I smile at him and ask him for chai. He smiles back. A smile that he generously endows on everyone,I am sure. I wonder if he knows the reason behind mine when I affectionately ask“ Bhai,ek chai!”