The mother rues the fact that I cannot sit still in a local train unless I have a book in hand. Occasionally, even a nap is hard to come by. So I entertain myself by standing on the footboard of a Churchgate-bound fast local. I notice the varied types of footwear, some artistically painted nails and interesting hair accessories.

I look forward to Andheri, where the gravity of the train shifts to the other side and I can take a pick of where on the footboard I want to position myself. Most days, it is ahead of the pole, holding onto the handle of the door with the wind in my hair. Few things can make me smile like that.

This morning was no different.  Except I moved slightly behind the pole to accommodate an oldish lady with three heavy-looking bags. She looked a little distressed to see me move behind when I thought that she should have breathed a sigh of relief instead. Her distress grew with every passing station. She asked me very softly, “You mind standing in front of me?” I was a little taken aback. Maybe I had misheard her. She comprehended my look better than I did. Before I could ask to repeat or question why, she explained, “You see I’m scared of falling out. So will you please stand in front of me?” “As it is you’re standing by the door,” she rationalized.

My heart went out to her. She probably felt overwhelmed by the mass of people around her. Yet, she was alone with her fear. I wanted to reach out and hug her. Only I didn’t want to overwhelm her more.


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