I reached early for the 11:30 train. The railway station was less crowded. Hawkers were yelling at the top of their voices. I just had one backpack, much less than what I usually carry. The journey was going to be long and a lonely one too. But solitude hardly worried me. I enjoyed travelling alone in train. As a young child train journeys fascinated me. I used to wonder where these trees, houses and and hills are rushing to in the opposite direction. The otherwise static objects are now running at frenetic pace. Science taught me the truth a few years later. Ah, it can be cruel at times. It shattered my world of fantasy. Engrossed in these thoughts as I was walking, a shrill voice caught my attention. ‘Son’, it said. As I turned back I saw an old man who must have been in his mid-sixties standing. There was desperation on his face and pain in his eyes. He outstretched his hand. There was a small packet. I realised his intent. These salesmen!! They won’t let you breathe peacefully even in a railway station. I said “No”. “But Son…” he said. “I said No” and walked away.
The image of his wrinkled face was just not fading away from my mind. By that time I had already reached the opposite platform where my train was supposed to come. I decided to invest the rest of my time reading something, so bought a newspaper. Right when I sat down on one of the old rusty benches, I saw the same old man talking to a young guy. After that they moved to one of those benches and the old man sat down. He gave something to the young lad. He opened the packet, took something from inside and leaned slowly towards the old man. My heart started beating faster. What was going on? That is when the young guy poured something into the old man’s eye. So that was it all about. A little help, that is all what he wanted. He shook hands with the young man and said something to him. Probably a thank you or a word of appreciation. The old man stood up. His vision would not have enabled him to see as far as where I was sitting. But I did not take the risk. I hid my face behind the newspaper.