Friday evening. That beautiful time when you finally put the horrendous week behind you, and look forward to the weekend full of promises of laziness, sleep and fun all in a span of 48 hours.
Friday evening. When everyone runs early from work if possible. When everyone is in a hurry to get home and move on with life.
I wrestled my way through the crowd, found a comfy spot in the middle of the train, and mentally surrendered to two hours of drudgery. As the local pulled out of the station and began to gain speed, a disturbance ran through the crowd, enough to snap everyone out of their busy dream worlds. Women standing near the door suddenly started screaming hysterically. Next thing we knew, we felt the train jerk slightly. Then everything was back to normal. Everything except the hysterical women at the door.
It took a few minutes for the full story to come out. A man had tried to get onto the train, slipped, and got sucked under the train.
And our bogey had gone over him.
The thuds we had felt.
There was stunned silence in the bogey as the realization slowly sunk in. We had just gone over someone. Someone was probably dead. We were on the train that killed him.
Everyone looked shaken up.
Slowly, people returned to their books and phones, albeit slightly zombie-like. The train stopped at the designated stations. More people got in. Chatter filled the bogey again, as it chugged away from the spot that had changed everything. I spent a restless night reliving those bumps on the railway track, the jerks we felt, the futility of it all.
For the next three days I woke up early in the morning and ran to the door to get the newspaper and scan through it for any news of the person. Was it an old man? Was it a young boy? Did he survive? Were there loved ones mourning somewhere? What did he do? What had his life been like? I desperately wanted to attach some identity to this person, something more than just a bump I felt while standing in the train.
A lot of other important things had happened in those few days. Tata’s announced their new heir, FDI in retail increased, politicians were being politicians, Sachin missed hitting a century. But nothing about a train going over a man at Grant Road. At this point I would like to believe that somehow all this was some huge confusion. Maybe he just slipped and didn’t actually go under. Maybe the jerk we felt was just his bag or something. Maybe the women at the door were mistaken. Maybe someone was plain tired and crazy and hallucinating. Right now, I’d rather believe anything, than the fact that his life was just that insignificant.
I’d rather believe that it was all in our heads.
That the train didn’t continue like nothing had happened.
That life didn’t just go on.
For all but one.