One of the worst things I have had to suffer in life, is the six-hour train journey from Angamali to Kannur. I don’t know why it is worse than any other (sometimes longer) journey, but I just know that it is. Especially if you are travelling alone, which I often did. But the one good thing (it may sound clichéd, but it is true that one bad thing brings something good with it) about it is that you learn a lot of things, without consciously noticing that you are. It gives you a chance to observe people, whether they are travelling alone (like yourself; and they are probably observing you too) or as a group (in this category fall some groups of people who you feel that if they don’t get out of the train soon, you might want to do the honors of kicking them out yourself).
A few weeks ago, I happened to be on one of those tiring train journeys. The train had just reached Chalakudy, the station after Angamali when you travel northward. It must have been anywhere between ten to twenty minutes since I sat in the train but I was already restless, wishing it was 11 p.m already (that’s when Alleppey-Kannur train reaches Kannur). It was only 6 p.m. It was then that I saw her.
A woman had gotten off the train from the other side, the wrong side, the one without the platform and began to cross the tracks – stepping carefully on the grey ballast, avoiding the dirt, and trying not to slip on the iron rails. It was then that I saw another train coming from the other side, on the tracks that she was crossing. As I looked around me, I realized I wasn’t the only one around who had seen the approaching train. Every other woman around me was looking at her – probably everyone in the compartment was looking at her. if I have ever experienced a moment when my mind was a hundred percent focused on something, it must have been that moment. I guess, unknowingly, I offered prayers to God, willing her to cross the tracks safely, before the train met her. I moved my eyes only when I saw her get onto the platform after crossing the tracks. and then, I breathed a sigh if relief. when I tore my eyes away from her, I noticed that everyone around me also moved their eyes away from the window only then. And if I am not wrong, I think I felt a collective sigh of relief around me. Maybe it wasn’t just me. Maybe unconsciously, everyone offered her silent prayers.
Maybe that’s what they call the religion of humanity.