Monday, March 13, 2006
I watched the local train as it puffed and panted and stopped in front of me in the afternoon heat. I clambered into an almost empty compartment just as the train was about to start. Standing by the entrance, I was amusing myself by watching my blue bandini dupatta playing with the wind- when she entered.
She was a young,poor girl, around sixteen years old, wearing nothing else but a tattered dusty skirt.The men in the compartment averted their eyes, and it did not take me long to realise that I was the only other woman in the compartment. To say that I was completely numb would be an understatement. Sitting next to her, I tried to shroud her in my dupatta, trying to look not as bewildered as I actually was.She had vacant, vacuum filled eyes that registered nothing around her. I concluded that she was mentally challenged, poor and homeless. To be frank, I was convincing myself that my worst fears would not be true.
I tried talking to her in varied tones from kind, threatening to pleading.It evoked no response. And then my station arrived.I know I should have done something about her- called Banyan,or any other help service or atleast the police. But for some unexplainable reason,for which I am feeling guilty now, I did nothing of the above. I told her awkwardly that I was leaving her and her unknown story there. Her vacant eyes shifted and there was something like the semblance of a nod. Then she started trying to poke holes in my dupatta which was now around her.Thankfully, her attention then shifted to disturbing the ants marching along the window.I got down, feeling terribly helpless. I kept watching her,until she became a blue dot in the horizon.