Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, lies the Mumbai Suburban Railway, popularly known as the 'Local Train'. There is a subtle charm which this complex, yet the efficient system of transportation brings to the city. It was fun to be there in the humongous crowd, where people battled it out to get inside the bogie of the train, as soon as possible. After getting into the train, I stood for a while at the door, gazing the pathway towards my destination next. The very feeling of the wind whizzing past my face and the hair were something amazing. But it was short lived as I was forced inwards by the passengers boarding on the subsequent stations. Though being a difficult task, somehow I found a place to stand in there. A quick glance at my watch told me that there was still time for the end of the journey. Having no idea what to do, I started looking around, towards the huge gathering of people. There were women chattering, teens listening to songs using plugged in earphones, a person dozing in his seat, another one gobbling up a vada pav. Out of nowhere came a tea seller, chanting the typical 'Chai chai, chai le lo chai..' tune, which annoyed me a bit because there was a serious space problem on the train, and still he wanted to get through. To my surprise I also found a lady chopping a few vegetables! Must say, quite a nice utilisation of time.
Image courtesy- hindustantimes.com
What caught my eye were a group of four people, a middle aged man with three women, who were communicating things in quite an intriguing manner. It was a combination of specific hand movements in a set order along with some intricate facial expressions. After observing them for a while, I was interrupted by a push of the crowd from the sudden halt of the train. Since I didn't have much of a support, I nearly fell. Gathering myself up, I looked again for the quadruple, which was then reduced to a singleton. The curious part of me wanted to know more about what it had just seen. Moving across the line, dodging the bars, I grabbed a seat beside the man. In a matter of minutes, we struck up a conversation. With the initial exchange of words, I got to know that he was a teacher at a school for 'Deaf & Mute', and the female trio were actually his students belonging to the same institute. After listening to this, my mind played connect the dots with what it had just heard, and seen a while ago. The curiosity within me grew even more, which led to further interrogation with the bloke regarding what they were chatting about. A smile spread across his face, followed by a chuckle as it was related to none other than our very own 'Demonetisation'. We both had a hearty laugh after he said this and then there he went describing the incident which happened with one of the girls. Ritu was her name, as I came to know later.
The cash crunch due the recent announcements had hit her hard. She owned Rs.1000 in the form of two Rs.500 notes with no other denomination present, still, she wasn't able to utilise it. It had become difficult for her to move around. Away from home and school, with no debit/credit card in hand, the banks and post offices added to her woes. They offered an exchange only for Rs. 2000 as it was the only printed cash available for the same. Queuing at a bank, where even Rs. 1000 were being interchanged, for 45 minutes was in vain as the sign board read 'NO CASH' after all this time. Dejected, there seemed no way out for her to solve the crisis. She had to send an urgent parcel to her special friend on his birthday, else it would not reach on time. With the unavailability of ATM card and no shop ready to accept Rs. 500 notes it seemed that she was left with no option. Sitting on the bench at a nearby park, she started sobbing. Right at the very next moment struck the idea of calling her friend Nisha, who studied in a nearby college, could help her with cash. But she couldn't talk to her on call (sighting her disability). So the only possibility was texting followed by a quick ring and hoping that the message is being read. On implementing the plan, Ritu waited, and waited for long but did not get a reply back understanding that Nisha would be busy with her lectures. Now, she grew even sadder and anxious. The time was running out as the parcel delivery van was about to leave in an hour. She started crying again.
Just when she was losing all hope, a mother- daughter duo who were walking in the park, noticed her. Inching closer towards her, the mother could see a face she recognised. Ritu Sharma, the best performer of the school, where even her deaf daughter studied. Ritu was started on the confrontation with the lady as she was greeted in sign language for the deaf. She told Ritu, about how she knew her and further asked the reason of her tears. Ritu explained the situation she was in, as a couple of ladies looked on. As soon as the narration, or say, the enactment ended, the daughter removed a piggy bank from her backpack and offered it to Ritu. She hesitated to accept it at first but the firm approval of the lady made her go forward. This act of kindness had Ritu teary eyed again, the tears of happiness and filled with gratitude. Both, the little girl and Ritu had fun time counting the change. A huge smile of contentment spread across everyone's face once the delivery van took the birthday gift with it.
A metro tale, overheard in a quite a unique way. ;)