Image Credit – Omkar Pandhare on Pexels.com
Blaring of multiple train horns, a distinct smell, loud cries of hawkers and porters all melted together to create a unique experience one could only relieve at a railway station.
The curious eyes and mind of a young child tried absorbing everything around him. He was holding his mother’s hand, while his eyes wandered, stimulated by a deluge of new experiences.
This was his first time at a railway station, and he was trying to assimilate everything.
‘Can’t you walk straight’ his mother prodded the young child, prompting him to move correctly for a few seconds. However, within no time, he reverted to his usual rhythm of looking around while losing himself in the surrounding environment.
With a bag in one hand and the little finger of her son in the other, the mother negotiated every sitting human being, including small children, wandering carts, and waste strewn around with her carefully measured steps.
Every step was taking her closer to the train they were supposed to take for Haridwar.
The child’s insistence on looking around, however, led to the first major casualty; his roving feet fell on dog’s poop, which he didn’t realize till he somehow scraped some of it on his mother’s saree too.
The mother took some time to notice what tragedy had befallen them as her eyes solely focused on the door they were supposed to get in, leaving her with little attention to register her child’s sudden act of emergency.
‘See what has he done now,’ she complained to her husband, with the palms slapping her forehead almost with no conscious effort. Her frustration and irritation were palpable in her tone and body language.
She couldn’t contain her frustration after discovering what’s stuck on his son’s sandals and on the bottom of her saree.
‘Arre, he is a kid, what do you expect of him,’ the father tried pacifying his wife with a subtle grin on his face. He somehow enjoyed what the child did.
‘Change it when we get inside,’ the husband advised nonchalantly.
She looked around and reluctantly began walking again, resolving to change into new clothes after getting inside the train.
‘You should always be careful while walking beta,’ the father urged his son. With the son nodding his head, he looked at his wife proudly, trying to show how she should also learn from him on how to talk to and persuade children.
He then walked ahead with a swelled chest and a loud grin on his face.
However, with only 2 steps left for the door, a man sitting inside couldn’t control himself and spitted out the pan masala he had been chewing impatiently while waiting inside the train which didn’t move for more than an hour.
The father had just pushed his son towards the door while the mother waited for him to get inside. The husband stood behind them when he felt something on his shirt.
And suddenly, he noticed, his cream shirt had turned orange. The sharp smell of pan masala still floated out of the warm spit, while drenching him entirely in its repulsive stench and colour.
He looked at his wife with shock and disbelief.
The admonishment about teaching the child correctly still reverberated inside his head when he stared at his wife.
He felt a strong desire to slap the man who suddenly put him into this vulnerable situation.
‘Beta, also be careful of people around you,’ the mother said, as the husband threw his shirt away the moment, they reached their seat.
He was contemplating how he could take a shower inside the Indian railway’s toilet.