The Other Side of the Story
I gaze fixedly at the train moving in front of me as its speed makes the strands of my hair move wildly across my face. In about two minutes, it’s gone. It is like the eerie calm after a storm; it is like nothing ever happened. Years and years of watching those beasts of iron move along the tracks tend to catch up on me sometimes and thus, I end up getting a tad bit philosophical.
I have been living on this platform since I was born. You won’t find my father; he is a hawker on the trains. You will find my mother, the one with the tattered sari. The places where the sari had been torn are stitched using patches of different colours. That’s the sari using which she wipes my baby brother’s face. You can see a number of kids running around the platform – some running along with the train in the hope of overtaking it, some waving at the train hoping to catch the eye of their parents who are hawkers like my father, some others just sit quietly in a desolate corner of the platform, probably lost in contemplation.
The people who trod on the platform after alighting from the trains and the people who run in haste on the platform in order to board their trains, both treat us alike – with disdain. ‘Homeless’ – that is what we are termed. That word makes me smirk. It is quite ironic, you see. Those are the people whose offspring banish them from their homes. Those are the people who fight over their homes. We, on the other hand, share the platform.
They have those devices called ‘smart phones’ and they dream of sleeping under a starry night. We sleep under the stars every night. A single penny tossed at us holds more importance to us than the wads of notes in their wallets could ever mean to them. They can throw away any number of notes for the sake of ephemeral comforts. But we have to save up the coins in order to afford two meals in a day. We do not have to resort to sleeping pills to fight insomnia. All that we require is a blanket to keep us warm and a surface to rest our heads on.
Not all of us are beggars, robbers or pick-pockets. Some sell things off in trains; some are rag-pickers, whereas some others try to find jobs – jobs ranging from being a driver to working in small-scale factories. You see the irony, don’t you? Being judged by our sunken faces and torn clothes has been an integral part of our existence. I don’t claim to be omniscient, but I have a theory. Appearances can be deceptive. Sometimes, judgements form the base of what people think or do. Sometimes there is a whole different side to the story, which people fail to see.
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