When you’re as tall as 6 feet 2 inches, travelling by a train will always be a challenging task. That’s why I used to book an upper berth in advance for a comfortable journey.
In the year 2013, I was travelling back to Allahabad from my hometown Patna to resume my college after the vacations. It was an eight hour non-stop journey starting at 11 p.m. Due to the short duration, the train had no pantry. Just as I got comfortable in my seat in a 2nd tier AC coach, an old lady with her husband entered the compartment and sat on the seat across mine.
They began talking and I hardly paid any attention to it. I had my headphones on and was listening to music. Minutes later, I saw concern on the couple’s face and got curious. I removed my headphones to listen to what they were worried about.
The old lady had recently undergone a hip surgery. Her seat was next to me in 2nd tier AC, but due to some mistake while filling in the reservation slip, her husband’s seat was booked in the Sleeper Class. She was scared about travelling alone as she wasn’t even able to get up or move without someone’s support.
Her husband kept asking her to calm down and told her it would be okay, but she would just not listen. The train was yet to start. When I realized the problem is serious, I don’t know why I did this, but I approached them and offered them my seat. Obviously, they were surprised by this offer and politely declined it. I insisted and a while later, they agreed.
I remember that comfort and gleam the old lady had in her eyes. I am yet to see a wider grin than the one she had on her face. The couple blessed me a hundred times and it felt quite rewarding to see the happiness on their faces. That old uncle and I went to the T.T.E. to get the seats exchanged.
I gave my phone number to uncle and asked him to call me in case if there’s any issue or emergency. I picked up my luggage and proceeded towards S2 (the coach where uncle’s berth was). The seat was 7 coaches away, and I had to drag my luggage all the way. When I reached, it dawned upon me that it was the berth I dreaded the most — Side Upper!
I sighed and kept looking at the seat for a few seconds. I knew that the night was going to be tough now. But I was still okay, and thought, ‘It’s just one night. I’ll eat and try to sleep.’
After arranging my luggage and washing my hands, I sat on the upper berth to eat. I opened the bag only to realize that I had forgotten my dinner pack in the car. In the DAMN CAR!
So here I was, a 6 feet 2 inch guy, lying on a side upper berth with legs almost penetrating the roof of the train, on an eight hour non-stop journey. I was sweating profusely in the humid weather, famished, and had nothing to eat. I was prepared to survive on the half a bottle of water that I had.
At around 12:30 a.m., when I was trying hard to sleep, I saw that old uncle approaching towards me. I thought there might have been some issue with the seats. I immediately got down and rushed towards him. I told him that he should have called me on my phone instead of coming all the way. He smiled and asked me to sit.
He got through train’s vestibules between AC and Sleeper Class that were luckily open. I noticed that he was carrying a big tiffin box and said that he came to offer me food. He had walked through seven coaches just to do that. This felt a lot more special because I was in need of food, and he appeared like a savior. Initially, I tried to refuse, but he insisted and said that his wife has sent the idlis with a lot of love and affection.
Like an elder in the family, he told me he wouldn’t leave until I eat all the idlis and sambar. The tempt and hunger took over, and I began devouring the idlis, and while I did that, uncle and I talked about our lives. He told me how his wife slipped on the oil spilled kitchen floor and fractured her hip. He talked about his eldest son, who worked in a bank and that they were going to his place for a couple of weeks.
We also discussed about my college, my education and about my parent’s profession. The idlis were great and so was the conversation I had with him. I thanked him for the food and he left for his berth. We even exchanged addresses and promised to stay in touch. While they were in the city, I met his wife again. She was recovering well.
It’s true that God works in mysterious ways. It never hurts to be nice to people. Who knows, when and where, they come back to help you like an angel.