The Sixth semester was about to end and I was packing my stuff to get back to home. Home is where I felt that there is a civilized person somewhere inside me or else in college we were nomads who wandered room to room, road to road, class to class without any well defined objectives. There were people who wished to flourish, while my friends and I just wished to survive. And in the act of survival we ended up with forty cigarettes and twenty cups of tea. The money that my parents sent vanished in a wink and in a matter of 10 days we came at the verge of hardships. And to add to it, I somehow broke the laptop of one of my juniors and hence I owed him a mammoth Ten thousand bucks.
There were two companies that were supposed to come at the last day of the academic semester that meant, first we had to rush to Noida and from there straight to our respective homes. I did not wish to be a part of the process, firstly it was pain to travel so much and more importantly I was out of money too. But, one of the companies was a big name hence I had to go. We went to the campus and the news broke out that the bigger company is not coming and the smaller one is only for Electronics Engineers. “Awesome, Couldn’t have been any worse”, I thought and started packing my luggage with a heavy heart.
It was an uncomfortable journey back home with train compartments stuffed like hell. Anyways 12 hours of hell and I was back to my home. I just wanted to relax, play and forget about placements, career and other serious aspects of life. I hardly spent a day at my home that I got a call from one of my friends who said that the bigger company is visiting the campus the day after. I was shocked. There are times in your life that your own faculties start hammering each other. My Brain and My heart were slamming each other and since we are practical people, living a practical life following the principles of practicality, my brain won and I made up my mind to get back to Noida. I somehow managed a ticket to Delhi for the next day
Shramjeevi Express was to depart at 11.45 and it was already late by ten minutes at Patna Junction. I had two bottles of mineral water, neatly packed separate boxes for lunch and dinner and three magazines that ensured a nice comfortable journey. And to add to it, the train was strangely vacant, a rare site on any Patna-Delhi train. The Train started with a jolt and hence started my journey.
“Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging alone like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle”
Lines from one of my junior school poetries, I was enjoying it. Some things can only be enjoyed when you are in the company of your own self and “World through a train window” is one of them. Three hours passed in no time and the Train just left Buxar station. I was now trying to dig deep into a magazine to get a glimpse of what is happening in the world’s largest democracy, home to 1.17 billion people. The concentration of the concerned citizen was broken by a slight murmur. A foreign couple was trying to get suggestions from someone. The helper, however was little weak in English but he was utilizing all vowels, consonants and syllables of English coupled with lots of gestures and postures. But poor guest were very confused. I find a lot of foreigners traveling in Sleeper coaches when they could have easily afforded a flight. Probably they wanted to catch a glimpse of real India and hence they were bearing the brunt of it. Anyways, at times I can be a serious interrupter so I became the part of discussion as well.
It was a Russian couple, who came to Bihar to visit the Buddhist Monasteries and temples and they were on their way to Varanasi which is a 7 hour journey from Patna. I started talking to them. They somehow found my language a bit clearer and hence asked if they can sit with me for sometime and find a solution to their problem. The Male was a 60 year old handsome man whose name was “Alexei”, the Lady was probably two-three younger to him and she was also a pretty lady. Unlike Indian Wives the Russian Wife was allowing his husband to speak. The Problem was a very simple one, the Couple had a general class ticket and they were traveling in a sleeper coach and they didn’t know whom to talk to avail the right ticket. I told them the TTE is the designated authority who will charge them the routine fine and then would make a ticket for them. The Couple then started talking all good things that they saw in India. They were very happy to see the Peepul tree in Bodhgaya under which Siddhartha found his Enlightment and turned to Gautam Buddha. That was nice to hear. I told them a little bit about the culture and heritage of India. After half an hour the couple left and I again started looking out of the train window. Now the train was speeding towards MughalSarai junction one of the major railway stations in the Patna-Delhi route. While looking out I was carelessly wagging my hands to find out the magazine that was laying somewhere on the seat, but instead my hands found something harder and clearly bigger. I turned back and I saw a black pouch with a crocodile symbol on it, beautifully bearing the word “Lacoste”.
I realized that the Russian woman was carrying the Pouch. “How careless can people be I should search for them and return them their bag!” this was my instaneous reaction. I stood up with the pouch to look around for them. And then the hidden evil inside me came to the picture and this is what it said: “Why to return the stuff to them, you did not steal, they left and hence now it’s yours”. And again I was caught in a whirlpool, where one part of me was saying to look around for them and return it to them and the other was saying that it is all yours. The Evil’s role was more pronounced and it convinced me to check out what stuff was inside it and I foolishly followed it. I looked around like a thief and then went inside a washroom. The Pouch had three sections with zips and it was surprisingly spacious for its small size. Inside the first section, there was a Blackberry Handheld and a fancy Samsung phone. The other section had a Sony Camcorder and the third section had twenty thousand rupees, yes I counted it too. The Evil said “See! Not a penny less than sixty thousand bucks and it’s all yours.
“God is great, in one go he has solved all your problems”, the evil said again. “I can pay ten thousand bucks to the laptop owner and spend the rest partying next semester”, I thought. MughalSarai junction was hardly at a distance of 30-35 KMs. I made up my mind that I would pack the stuff in my bag and get off at MughalSarai and from there would take another train. The impact of the evil was so great that the good part was dumfounded. I packed the pouch in my bag and sat down waiting for the train to reach MughalSarai. In the meanwhile I started recollecting the Russian couple’s conversations. They were overjoyed by the kind of treatment they got in India. They said that the very warmth of the Indians will keep them pulling back to India every year. They were also impressed by the Indian youth whom they found very talented and hardworking. And they had a special mention for Bihar. Before coming to Bihar, everyone warned them about the crime rate of it and the cases of loots and murders. But, when they left this place they left it with a very happy heart. They found every one in Bihar, very helpful and cooperative.
The Train was speeding along the green farms. I still remembered the lines of my old school poetry but I was not enjoying. There was a sort of restlessness inside me. My good part was weak but it still was alive and it was trying to knock the evil occasionally. There are times in your life that your own faculties start hammering each other. My Brain and My heart were slamming each other and since we are practical people, living a practical life following the principles of practicality, the brain has got every right to win. But this time my heart was not ready to lose this fight.
Two foreigners on Indian soil with no money in hand and no means of communication and all because of me. A stack of rectangular papers the mother of all evils which people call money, is that the only driving force in the world for which I will singe the goodness of countless Indians. And to add to it, when the police officials in Delhi will enquire from the couple that where did the theft took place? They would get Bihar as an answer and they would say “We knew that, that’s why we stop foreigners from going them”. The Evil now was on back-foot and my good part was firing all around.
Without wasting a single moment, I took out the pouch and started looking for them compartment to compartment. I hardly went 5 compartments ahead that I saw them desperately searching for SOMETHING. The Woman was standing with tears in eyes, she was paying hard for her carelessness. I waved my hands at them and showed them their “Something”. They came running towards me.
“Where did you find it?”, The man asked.
“You left it on the seat when you were sitting with me”, I replied.
“God bless you. You don’t know how valuable are these to me?” He said again
“No problems, just be a little more careful when you are traveling”, I said.
The man nodded in acceptance but the woman was staring blankly at me. And then she hugged me, the silent warmth of her hug was speaking volumes.
I still owed a fellow ten thousand bucks. I still had a strenuous placement session to go through. I had 8 hours of train journey and a full return journey left but I was a happy man because I was again enjoying “World through a train window”.