This is a phrase often quoted by many of us in times of undesired events...And it reflects the shock we receive when we come to know that we are as likely as ‘other’ people to be victim to mishaps.
It is quite a common habit we develop-mostly out of our carelessness or out of reluctance in accepting our ‘ordinariness’...We consider ourselves as someone immune to being victim to mishaps and think that these only pose a threat to ‘other’ people.
I was jostled out of my happy cocoon of ignorance recently and hence this outpouring, to reach out to many others like me out there-to warn and inform…
A few days back I was travelling by train to my hometown for winter vacations. As usual, I was travelling alone. It was a short trip of 10-12 hours. As it was the cold season of the year, my father had booked an AC coach and the train started at around 9 pm. I have this notion that AC coaches are much safer than the non-AC ones and I was feeling very secure. I climbed up my berth and settled down by around 10 pm and started reading a magazine, but then within an hour I began dozing off. At about 11.10 pm the TT arrived and woke me up to check my ID proof and ticket. I woke up, went through the drill and went back to sleep by around 11.30 pm.In retrospect, the mistake I committed was that I put all my ID cards, debit card, and all of the Rs 700/- I was carrying in my purse, which I carelessly (I still hate admitting to this) placed in my shallow jacket pocket. When I woke up at around 3 am, I could not find my purse and I frantically searched for it.
I was having a panic attack-This could not happen to me...No there has been a mistake-the purse would be just round the corner!!!I woke my fellow passenger-whom I hadn’t even properly talked to before that moment! Together we searched every possible nook and corner of our berth and the next two berths. I woke the coach attendants and they gave me a torch to search but they were sure that my search was in vain. And unfortunately, they were right!
By 4 pm I was both panicky and numb. I could not comprehend my situation and I had no idea what to do. I had a connecting train to catch inorder to reach home. And although the ticket was booked, the ID proof had to be shown to the TTE. And if not by train, then how do I reach home? I would reach Agra station by 4.55am.It would be hours before my father could come to pick me up. And the train was the only familiar route I had ever travelled!
I was sitting on my berth, tears trickling down, cursing myself for my stupidity, worried and scared to death. I called my Dad and pretended to be brave and told him about the mishap (I wouldn’t call it anything else).He got really tensed! I don’t blame him-well India-and especially North India is not exactly a place where I would leave my daughter alone with no money or ID to travel impromptu by bus or any other route other than the train!
I next called my best friend and poured out my anxiety! I couldn’t pour it out to my parents on the phone because if they heard me crying and freaking out on phone-it would only worry them more!
My friend told me that two of my classmates and many juniors were also travelling by the same train. So the first thing to do as soon as I got out of the train was to meet them. While I was moping away near the bathroom, I spotted a familiar face in the next coach. I stared at him and continued to mope...then it clicked! He was my junior at my college! I went up to him, asked his name, where he was going to (his place was on the same route to my house), whether I could accompany him on the bus and if he would wait for me after getting off the train. I tried my best to sound really in-control-of-the-situation but my tear-stricken face was telling a different story!
I was advised by my co-passenger to file an FIR in the Railway Police against the theft of my purse.Now; this again was something I hadn’t thought I would do in my wildest dreams. I could not even picture myself doing it! On a more practical note-I had no idea how to do it!
My train was an hour late due to fog and it arrived at the Agra Railway Station at 6.10am.So even if I had my purse I still wouldn’t have been able to catch my connecting train scheduled at 6am. Thoughts like-this is fate!-started to pollute my depressed brain-but I soon jostled myself out of it-There was no other choice-no If Only’s.
I found my classmates-I must say-I had never felt so much relief on seeing them! Next we started searching for the Railway Police (GRP).We found a room with a board GRP and we went in. We narrated the story to a bunch of policemen standing inside. Many of them mocked at my ignorance and at that moment I just wanted Daddy to be there by my side...But since that was not an option, we listened to all their comments. Then a young policeman told us to go to another police station behind the Railway station. We thanked them and set forth. I couldn’t imagine how my classmates and the junior were putting up with all this trouble I was causing them!
We finally reached a ‘Thana’-police station. I told them about the theft. The Inspector asked me to sit down. Another policeman handed me a paper with a carbon sheet and another paper beneath it-I was asked to write down as the Inspector dictated.
For the benefit of my readers, regarding why I succumbed to being dictated a letter by an Inspector was-Hindi. I am not so well-versed in Hindi. The simple reason being we mostly read English books, and we use English in our daily lives so much that it almost becomes an inevitable part. Hindi though, is the national language and though we as Indians should be well versed in our mother tongue-however; its use is restrained to only passing an exam till 10th std.And then nobody bothers to look back. Who’s to blame??? They say it’s English that will fetch you to great heights...
Well the Inspector was an advocate for Hindi learning, and he was really annoyed with my skills. A 5 minute lecture (which seemed like forever) later, my classmate volunteered to write as he dictated and the FIR was lodged. As we got out of the police station-I was feeling really happy that I had done something so great like filing an FIR!
As I now contemplate, the things we do not achieve often seem so glittery and unreachable!!But once you reach the pinnacle you feel-this is it??
One of my classmate’s home was in Agra and his father had come to pick him up from the station. He related the entire incident to his father, and Uncle immediately offered to drop us at the bus stop so that we could catch buses to our homes. Myself, my two classmates, the junior, Uncle and my classmate's elder brother all squeezed into the car with our luggage...Thank God it was winter! On the way neither of us spoke except the uncle who occasionally asked us about our whereabouts and our parents. While nearing the bus stop, uncle asked if we would like a cup of tea from his home which was nearby. We didn’t respond as we were caught in a dilemma of our hungry stomachs and the need to reach our homes as fast as possible!
My classmate’s mother welcomed us warmly into their house and soon we were sitting in their drawing room having warm cups of tea! Aunty was also kind enough to place platters of biscuits and snacks on the table.
The junior had to reach somewhere urgently as his parents were waiting for him there. And I was the reason for him to get so much delayed already. He was getting tensed by the minute.
I was fed up of battling the guilt of having caused so much trouble to so many people! I was presently fighting a new battle-a dilemma-whether to take the biscuits or not!!!My stomach was nodding a big yesss but my brain told me it would delay matters more! So as soon as we finished our tea we got up to leave-but we were pleasantly interrupted by Uncle who asked us to wait as he had just begun to have tea. My classmate was actively munching away and with so much encouragement I went ahead and took a jam-centre biscuit, only to receive cruel et-tu-brutus look by the junior!
Well, at about 7.45 am we finally reached the bus stop and I boarded the bus to my hometown. I was accompanied by the junior. Waving goodbye to my classmates and Uncle, we set off!
The journey was quite pleasant (contrary to what I expected) and I and the junior soon got chatting. I reached my hometown, where my father had come to pick me up while the junior would continue to his home.
Thus After a long day, which seemed like it would never end, I was at home-in the secure and comfortable haven of my room!
A few days later though, my father got a call from a principal of some college in Agra stating some student of his had submitted all my ID cards and debit card to him. The principal was a kind man and he posted them to us which I recieved in 2 days..So though quite unexpected..it all ended up in the best way possible!
I sign off now. Keep reading and spreading love. Travel safe!