Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Asansol Junction

I was to go to Bangalore, the premier city of Karnataka, on the 3rd of May. We had to board the train from Asansol. Catching a local train from the Durgapur Railway Station in the evening, we reached there at about 7 p.m. (it's a 45 minutes journey), one and a half hour before the scheduled departure of the train. So in the free time with nothing better to do, I took upon the task of strolling and exploring the station.

It's an old station and quite dirty too (like most good old stations). But still a railway station is always a fascinating place, given the huge number of different hues and colours you get to see. So I was there, standing right at the edge of the platform observing the train that had come to a halt on the opposite track. Then suddenly set apart from the crowd that was jostling its way all around me, came a figure, a very slim figure if I am allowed to add, with a unsteady walk, almost like that of a dead man, and with a pair of hollow, dead eyes. He was very dark, almost as dark as the coal which passes through the Asansol Junction to end up in the boilers of the Ruhr of India. Needless to say, his clothes were ragged, torn and shabby. But the strange thing in all of that was an innocuous little pair of sunglasses wound around his neck! Seeing such reckless extravagance on such a poor body, I shaked my head, and the bubbles of sympathies that were forming in my heart burst soon thereafter.

The man, or should I use another word, for he must have been no more than 20, kept moving in my direction. With the bursting of the bubbles, and seeing such a dirty fellow moving towards me and with no intention of changing his direction, I endeavoured to change my position. After all I had to get away from this terrible 'scum'. But suddenly, it almost seemed involuntary, he changed his direction and leapt on to the tracks, and made his way to the sides of the train of which I have spoken of earlier. I took it for granted that he is going to get up on the train and go to the next platform (these people often do like that) or maybe he's going to beg in the sleeper coaches of the train. But contrary to my expectations he kept moving alongside the still train, with his eyes fixedly on the ground. The ground, as I had spoken of earlier, was extremely dirty. It can better be defined as a garbage dump (coupled with a drain carrying the most obnoxious materials possible). And from that literal garbage dump, he picked up the tiniest bit of a shingara (hindi translation samosa) and ate it!!!!! My God, he ate that!!!! that!!!!! He then proceeded to pick up another fungus infested sweet packet and lick the remaining fragments and bits of sweets!!

My whole mind, my whole soul, my whole heart came crashing down. Thud!! The stone platform never suddenly seemed to so hard. I wanted to cry, to shout out, "NO". But I couldn't. I have seen poverty, poverty of the lowest rungs (or I thought), but never this. This was appalling. I hated my new jeans. I hated the unreal arrogance with which I viewed him. I hated the rupees in my pocket. I hated the ice-creams, soft drinks, the pastries that i ever ate in my whole life. I was ashamed of my extravagance.

Why does he live? Why does he keep on continuing his living under such conditions? Why doesn't he kill himself? A man lives for his hopes, a hope that his hopes will one day come true. But what hope does he have? He knows he is destined to be God's forgotten child all his life. Then why does he live? Why doesn't he kill himself?

Why do I live? Why do you live? Why there is disease? Why their is savage hardships, savage injustice? Why do we keep on living knowing that old age awaits us. Miseries await us. Nightmares await us. And finally Death awaits us. Why do we still live in this hell?Buddha became enlightened. He attained nirvana. He understood the world, and its paradoxes of happiness and miseries. Maybe that's life. He became the blessed one. While we the ignorant continue to burn in this hell...

8 comments:

Kaustav said...

'tis a pitiful thing indeed. I've traveled on rails many times and have witnessed such sorrowful things... But haven't tried to dissect the hardships of life... Maybe, its the way we live, which keeps us aloof of these happenings...
A beautiful narrative.......

Animesh Ray said...

yes indeed, most of the times we never pay any heed to these things...but still sometimes we just can't remain aloof any more.

Neelakantan said...

It's really sad. But what is more tragic is the fact that even with all this 8-9% GDP groth blah blah blah we are still unable to provide a decent standard of living for so many people.It's really awful that they have to live in such hardships. :|

The Radicals said...

this story is really amazing!
not that i haven't seen such events in my life, courtesy mumbai!, but the narration is very good!

even i keep asking the same questions to myself- why is he even living? why doesn't he dies?!
thought its a relief when we get a chance to help such a person in the city and in a suitable favourable condition, but in a situation where you are no good except to see him with your sealed lips, one really feels like tearing of his clothes!

i just hope that someone we could be able to provide a better life to such people!

Avik said...

beggers,are a common sight in almost every railway stations,of India,barring a few(the metros...).we are always told that,begging should not be encouraged,but this people ,most of whom had started begging almost since infancy,have taken this as their only means of livelihood,and are not a least bit ashamed of their profession.this people are the real face of our country,where still lakhs of people die with

Avik said...

intense hunger in their stomach.they have no hope,no ambitions,and they dont know how to lead a better life.do we have a solution for this people???intense counselling is needed to show them the path to attain a better way of living.many NGO's have taken up this task,but without the support of the government,the effort is simply insufficient

Animesh Ray said...

rightly said Avik...

Suki said...

Sometimes, I just don't know. I don't know why human beings, a scourge on this earth, haven't realised their folly and still think they're the best things to happen to the planet.

I don't know why I, who realise, don't kill myself. But that one I do. It's the same reason - the very basic struggle for survival.

:sigh:

Blogrolling you, though.

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