Man who made my Diwali

Story of my Transformation!!

I had written this article in 2010 in my personal blog. I am rewriting it here again. The actual event that I speak about dates back to the Diwali of 2008 (September 2008). It still reminds me of how feeble life is and what I want from my career, reminds me to be thankful of all the good things that I have today.

This event change the whole course of my life. I am very grateful to this man who I met.

Few years ago, back then, it was very tough for me living in Hyderabad. It was during the eve of Diwali, I was confused, lost, frustrated, and was going through a plethora of mixed feelings after being homesick, lived alone and a to have gone through a hectic work schedule for 5 months, and travel. I was finally, happy, I was on my way to go to Bangalore to spend my time with Family and close friends.

I was reflecting more so on the past few months on how many things had changed after I took this new job and moved to a new city. I realised that I had become very sick of everything that was going on and was cursing within myself to have left my family for a tough job, difficult boss, ruthless weather, challenging work, food, new people etc.,! Perhaps, I missed Bangalore more and longed for what I had the most! Worst of all that bothered me then was that I had to beg my boss to approve the vacation for Diwali which had never happened to me before!

With a lot of thoughts and questions of Ifs — like If I had not taken this job, if I had not left bangalore etc., running in my head I reached the railway station’s platform to board the train. My contriving mind had started prejudicing me and convincing me to go home and never come back. I was barely open to the hustle around the over crowded railway station. I was lost within myself.

The train arrived and there was a sudden rush of hundreds of passengers who were almost fist-fighting to get into the train while trying to wrestle with their luggage. I was calmly waiting for my space to appear in the stampede in which I could get in and with as much ease as possible I would reach the train’s door. Then, I somehow, looked around, I saw the sweetest looking old man standing with a Cane and a plastic bag. He looked like someone who had worked a day job and had done some good things to people, he had the wrinkles of dignity and independence. He walked very slowly towards the door and was trying to ask the angry people in the mob with the faintest voice where ‘S4’ compartment is. I am usually not always very helpful, not in the Railways, people become mean in trains from my experience. Yet, to my own surprise I reached out to help this old man (I dont know why), I tried to find out his ticket details so I can guide him. He looked so confused and very worried. I tried to find out more information by asking if he had a reservation or if he remembered when and where he was supposed to travel etc.,, but he seemed to become more confused with each question. He just kept saying “she said I have to go to Bangalore”.

After a lot of time and Q & A, I was able to atleast gather that this old man was dropped off at the Kacheguda Railway station by his sister-in-law and was told to go to B angalore where he had a family. This lady had given him some cash and told him to go inside and buy a ticket, board the train, reach home on his own. It struck me then — He had no ticket, no reservation! and because getting ticket reservation is nearly impossible I asked him if he could come back tomorrow, he said that she was gone and that he had no place to stay. He then added that he would wait at the Station till tomorrow, sit on the bench the whole night if needed and board the train the next day. Thats 24 hours of being alone and helpless in a hostile place filled with thieves, mosquitoes and what not. Naturally, I felt a little ashamed and guilty of not being able to help him. I did not want to leave him there, I told myself to leave him be and disappear, but my conscience struck and told me very strongly that I cannot leave him there alone.

Now that I had offered to help him, I had to help him.

I was feeling very sorry for myself about being alone, homesick and was feeling as if I was facing the biggest problem in the world. It all had vanished when I met and learnt about this great old man, who perhaps was sent to me to remind me of what being alone really meant! It broke my heart to pieces!

Immediately, I told him that we will get a ticket for him somehow after talking with the TC onboard and make sure he gets home. For my luck we could get him a Senior Citizens’ ticket, a lower berth and also the cost of that ticket fare was less, he had enough money to travel. As I had started to feel proud about this whole act, it was around this time he had started to look very tired, and when I stepped down from my upper berth to ask him if he was all right, I saw that his leg was wrapped in a white bandage and a big red dot under his feet showed. He had been standing on it the whole time holding a plastic bag full of clothes. I recommended him to get some rest and he laid down carefully placing his plastic bag with his shaking hands.

We all slept. I hit my upper berth and crashed to sleep with my ipod on. Woke up in the morning, quickly ran through all that happened last nigh, and I realised with all the mess I had forgotten to have my dinner and also realised that even the old man had not eaten anything. I came down and he was already awake but he still looked tired, more tired than what he was last night. I guessed he didn’t catch enough sleep, hurriedly got him breakfast. I tried to check if the bandage was alright and I noticed that small round of blood on his bandage. It was hard to believe it could be that he fell or was in a vehicle accident etc., so I was curious to find out. I asked how he hurt his leg, he said that he had just had a bypass surgery and an artery was taken from his leg. I was not expecting that. I could not digest that, I asked him again, he told me the story again. I was shocked to my spines! I froze in that moment, the blood (I have a little phobia for the blood and I am a visual person), it was scary and I could feel my heart beat louder than the sound of the moving train. Can YOU IMAGINE??? This man had had a heart surgery and then shortly after that he was dropped off at the Kacheguda Station to buy a ticket with no reservation to go to Bangalore, ALONE!!

I never really had been in or heard of a situation like this, and I wasn’t sure what I could do to help him. I did not know what to say after that. I sit as if I had seen a ghost. I could barely breathe for a few moments.

After reaching bangalore, I learnt that he stays close to where I did and I got him to get down at theYeswanthpur station. I went through the address slip which he had in his hand and he said that where his daughter stayed. The writing had a phone number however a few digits were garbled and hard to read due to a short rain in Hyderabad the previous day and we couldnt make out what it was. But I knew exactly where this place was, I was familiar with that neighbourhood. I got him an autorickshaw and told the auto-driver to drop him off safe, explained him of the situation and the auto driver seemed helpful too. He seemed to recognise all the landmarks I said and picturise the actual place.

I thanked God the address mentioned in the note was in proper shape! I did not know what else I would do if THAT was not there.

I thought it was time to bid a final goodbye to this man.
I bent down inside the auto and his wrinkled eyes looked deep inside mine as I gave the prepaid auto driver money. It was a different look, I dont know but my legs had started to weaken and I could feel my heart pound. As a reaction to his look I patted the old man on the arm and told him everything would be just fine and asked him to call me when he will reach and wanted to say Goodbye,he said “Thank you” bent his head and started to cry! He had this fill of tears in those eyes, his chin was shaking in sorrow, I did not know what to do again, I was loosing it. I cried too. It was a moment, I stood still! It was tough! Quietly tears just rolled down, auto left! tears went on!

I then walked about 4 miles home, the walk changed me!

I will not whine, will not complain and will be grateful and thankful to everything, everyone that I have. I will stay humble and will always be mindful and respectful of where I started.

Thanks for reading it. Thanks for being my friend/family/colleague. I will give my best to reciprocate and give back more.