Last Saturday, after having seen my brother off at the Dadar station, I along with my parents boarded a local train to go back to Grant Road where I live. Having spent a week with the entire family, the three of us were morose after seeing my brother off and were just staring out of the window of the moving train. I was thinking that very soon my parents would also be going back to my native place and I would again be alone in Mumbai. The train stopped at Mumbai Central station. The usual buzz of people getting off and boarding the train continued and the train started moving. We noticed some commotion at the door and I peeked out of the window to see a boy, of about 12-13 years running alongside the train which was gaining speed. The people in the train were asking him to leave the train’s pole that he was holding as he was not being able to keep pace with the running train. I also noticed that he was repeatedly turning back and looking at someone. I was wondering, “Why doesn’t this boy just leave the pole and catch the next train! And if he does want to catch the train, why doesn’t he just get in and stop looking back!” I also noticed a couple with worry on their face. The boy was their son. By now, the train had already gained speed and the passengers pulled the boy in. Suddenly we heard a shriek, and instantly turned back to look at a girl, about 7-8 years old who had started crying.
It then dawned on me, these people were not regular travellers in Mumbai local trains. I got answers to all my questions. That boy was running along the train hoping that his sister would catch up with him and both of them would get in. People started consoling the mother as she had already started weeping and was worrying about her daughter, “vo vahan akele kya karegi. Usko kuch pata bhi nahi hai” (what will she do there! She doesn’t know anything), was all she kept saying. The father started asking co-passengers what he should do. The passengers suggested that the family should get off at the next station and take the help of the railway police. The next station as Grant Road. The family got off and walked towards the RPF (Railway Police Force) office. We too got off and started walking the other way towards the foot bridge. Till now all three of us were dumb struck. We had seen the face of a small girl full of fear and anxiety. My parents recalled an incident when they had almost lost me in a train on our way to Puri. We started discussing what was right to be done in such a situation. My father said, the distance being only of about two minutes, one of the parents should have taken a train back to Mumbai Central and the other should have gone to the RPF for help. My mother said, they should have let their children board the train first or one parent should have boarded then the children and then the other parent. We were doing all this discussion and my heart kept going back to that little girl. What she must be going through. Getting lost in Mumbai that too on a local station! I just prayed to God that the parents find their little girl.
I was wondering what if they announce on the station, like they usually do for lost people, and some person with wrong intentions spots her and misguides her. Then it suddenly struck me- WE COULD HAVE PULLED THE CHAIN!!- I said aloud. My father said, “but is there a chain in the local?” I replied that there is one. He said, “I dint know there was one, else I would have pulled the chain”. I really cant explain the feeling I had when I realised how irresponsibly I had behaved. Shouldn’t I, or for that matter all my co-passengers, have remembered that we could pull the chain and have saved the mental trauma for that little girl? I don’t mean that we should keep pulling the chain for everyone who misses a train but in this case, we knew it’s a small girl whose entire family is onboard and she is being left alone on a platform. I feel pathetic that none of us, who are regular travellers by local trains in Mumbai, acted responsibly enough. We were all panicked and thought of solutions other than the most obvious one!
Probably, most humans behave like this. They panic and find solutions other than the most obvious one. The obvious solution doesn’t even occur to most, just like in this case. I don’t know what happened after we left but I still pray to God that the girl was safe and met her parents.