The Spirit of the fading Odyssey

"It was time to leave, and it was late. I had been here for over 2 hours, and I knew I had to get back home, but still I told myself to sit there for just 5 more minutes. Somewhere out there, my heart whistled to me; may be in these last few minutes, I can watch him save yet more precious little lives from the face of this ever racing planet."

I've always loved travelling on the trains, and nothing more excited me than to sit down by the dark evenings on a not so crowded station and watch the trains as they pass by. From their sounds, to their shapes and speeds, till the smell of their very brakes burning while they halt in the station, everything commoves me of my being.

My house is situated 2 minutes away from the railway, and I've been comfortable with the sounds which keep coming from the station. From the announcements to the actual honking of the engines, I can pretty much hear everything on a non crowded day.
One such day, I was so bored and feeling lonesome, I just thought I needed a place, where I could just sit and have some time for myself, enjoy what am seeing. I headed to the railway station at 8pm that evening.

I reached the station in a couple of minutes and found myself a nice little seat beside platform 1 and once I sat, I stretched myself and kept glancing at the people and the local trains which kept screeching to a halt once every 10 minutes. And then suddenly I heard the noise of a man who was screaming at a young college boy who was crossing the tracks. I lifted myself up and saw what exactly was happening.

He was a middle aged man, might be on his fifties, wearing a un-ironed shirt and a trouser, not clearly shaved, wavy hair and had a very nervous look in his eyes. He was hollering all over the platform, shouting and screaming at people who were crossing the tracks, and every time he saw a train approaching, his voice would go over the roof. He even went to a point where, he himself would run down the tracks screaming that a train was approaching.

At first look, I thought this man was demented and not mentally stable. I was actually looking at all what he was doing, and at times I really couldn't conclude what he really was up to. And in a few minutes, another train came towards platform 2, and from the other side, he ran towards my side and was yelling at all the people who were on the tracks. Soon after the train left, he became a little silent and was standing just a few feet away from me. I could still hear his mumbling voice, and I heard him mumble “Why are they not listening Babu, I keep shouting and yet they don’t listen to me, tell them babu, tell them not to walk here, you tell them to listen, they certainly will, tell them babu”…..

I was a little startled to hear him talking to himself, but still, I was very curious to understand what was beneath, what he kept mumbling. So I took my time and when he was really close, I called out to him “Sir, why don’t you sit down for sometime”
He looked at me and said “No, its time, another train will come”, and I replied saying “No, it’ll take another 10 minutes, you can sit for sometime”….. So he came and sat on the other side of the bench leaving a foot of space between.

Before I could even say a word he said “Nobody is listening son, I keep saying, but just none are even lending an ear to my cries”
I asked him why he was shouting at all the people who were walking alongside the platform, I even warned him some people could take it harshly and end up hurting him. He replied me saying “If someone had done this, I wouldn't have lost my babu”
From there he told me something which melted my heart and broke me down to tears….

It was the year 2004, his son Mohan Babu @ Babu (how they called him at home) was studying his final year in an engineering college in the outskirts of Chennai city. He always took the local metro trains to reach college and back home. He successfully finished his final year and was eagerly waiting for his upcoming graduation day. On the noon of 19th of May 2005, he and his friends wanted to go to college to see some of their professors and on their way back, when Babu reached his station, he jumped out of the train to the track, and while he was waving bye to his friends who were still in the track. Little did he notice the express train which was speeding on the very track he was stood. In a few seconds, even before his friend could alert him, the train smashed on him and he was dead on the spot; right in front of the eyes of his very friends. Babu passed away just a day before the very graduation day he waited for that long. He had even bought his graduation coat and hat and had kept it safe in the wardrobe to be dressed for the next day. He, was the only son in the family, and after a month of his death, his poor mother passed away from chronic depression and the whole family had just come to a stalemate all in a day.

His father later told me, that he resigned from his job as a clerk in the Chennai Corporation and now sells LIC insurances for the public. If he manages to sell at least one policy a day, he come directly to the station, take a platform ticket and tries his best to make people stay away from the platforms. He told me there are days when people have beat him and even police have beaten him for shouting at people, but he never gives up on this deed of his.

He looked at my face and asked “Do you think I am some kind of a retarded person? I said “No”, he said “I have nothing to loose in my life son, for; I’ve lost everything” My life lies swaying on these tracks, and until that time, I will try and save as much as sons and daughters I can”, One day I too will die on these tracks, nothing else will give me greater delight than to die in the very same place where I lost my son.

I was bemused in tears; I didn't know what to tell him, for this entire long, a man who I thought was mad, stands now as one of the most revered human souls I have come across his my life. That little moment I understood, life like it never was. A single moment is all it takes to take away your entire life from your very eyes.
I know this man is slowly dying his life, I know his little babu is gone and is never to come, but in his life this old man will end up doing more greatness than many others who boast they did. His silenced heart bore a million un-said words which left me flummoxed that day. Our lives are so fragile; sometimes broken lives are never ready to be fixed ever again.

I slowly wiped off my eyes and smiled at his face, kept my hand on his hands and slowly whispered into his ears “Sir, There is no higher religion than service to a fellow human being. To take your time and strength, get abused and still try to save those few lives for the sake of their good, am sure you’ve made your live much worthy than the many who begin to think who you are”

He smiled and replied back : “This railway station and these 4 set of train tracks is all I know, and all I ever want to know.”

"It was time to leave, and it was late. I had been here for over 2 hours, and I knew I had to get back home, but still I told myself to sit there for just 5 more minutes. Somewhere out there, my heart whistled to me; may be in these last few minutes, I can watch him save yet more precious little lives from the face of this ever racing planet."

Comments

gayathri said…
My heart went out to the old man on the tracks. Very touching indeed!
IB7 said…
Train whistles can save life but only if you listen. Its like disobeying the signals at a railway crossing, the train's whistle may be the last sound you ever hear.
Its sad, how life changes in seconds.....
Touching...thanks Vasanth for sharing this incident...Glad to have a friend like you buddy :)

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