• the_adultoscent 22w

    I saw the local train coming, and ran for it. I tried to make my way amid the crowd without pushing or nudging anyone (and failed), and almost reached the ladies compartment, but the train took off before that. My mother always told me never to get into a running train, and that is one command I diligently followed. I looked around to find a place to sit while I waited for the next train. I wasn't in a rush anyway, I was trying to not miss the previous one merely out of habit. Because when you see a local train coming, you run for it. It was an inevitable challenge you gave yourself as a Mumbaikar.

    As I waited for the lifeline to return, my eyes fell on a father-daughter duo sitting on the platform floor. They both wore ragged clothes, and from the looks of it, the father seemed to be a manual labourer. His little girl was no more than four years old. She had in her hand a vada pav wrapped inside a newspaper. She removed the newspaper, threw it on the tracks and started eating her snack. The bread looked stale, and there were flies sitting on it every time she paused to take a sip of water out of the overused, plastic coke bottle that her father held.

    I instantly felt a nagging guilt about my privileges, and decided to do more than just watch her. I went to the nearby railway kiosk and bought a pack of bourbon biscuits. I walked up to the man, gave him the biscuits and told him to feed them to his daughter.
    He looked at me indifferently, took the packet of biscuits and gave it to his daughter.
    "Thane k liye train kaha se milegi? (Where will I find a train to Thane?)" he asked.
    I was mildly puzzled. That was not what I was expecting him to say.
    I showed him the correct platform and went back to my seat to wait for the train to come. Something seemed off. I hadn't expected gratitude, or a 'Thank you' from him, but I had also not expected indifference. (It's weird how we want to be immediately rewarded and exalted for an act of goodness.)

    I watched from a distance to make sure nothing was fishy. Fortunately, it was just me being cynical again, nothing was odd. His daughter gobbled down those biscuits with an urgency, and her button eyes looked less hungry then. That's when a sweet realisation dawned upon me. I understood why the man did not react like I was a god-sent angel, why he merely got his query solved. It was because he was accustomed to random acts of kindness. Perhaps, I wasn't the only one who had fed his daughter something. There were countless other people in this busy city who had stopped and lent them a hand. Kindness had become routine for him. It had become his version of normalcy. It was a wonderful feeling, to know that I lived among so many Samaritans. Initially, I was happy about the little girl's content eyes. But now, I was happier about the fact that there were several other people who were trying to fill happiness in those eyes.
    What a beautiful place that crowded, paan-stained railway platform seemed in that moment!

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