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Humanity is the basic essence of human existence, its always help people and get help in return. Kaushikii explores the same in her short story.
Anandi was sitting in her posh cabin when she received the good news that she had been expecting since a long time. She had been promoted to the position of director of the company for which she was working since the last 25 years. The journey was not an easy one and she had worked very hard throughout her career to reach this position. Her colleagues and subordinates lined up outside her cabin to give their good wishes.
That evening when she was driving back home after a small celebratory party with her colleagues, her mind wandered back to that first journey of her life…. a journey which had changed everything and put her on a path where there was no looking back.
Her memories took her back to that time when she was 21 years old. She was travelling from her hometown Nagpur to Pune. It was the first time she was travelling alone, that too for a city she had never been before. Her father had booked a seat for her in the ladies’ coupe, a special compartment for women in the express trains. In those days, the second class always had a special closed compartment called ladies coupe which had six berths reserved only for women.
On entering the coupe she found on one side there were three elderly ladies, and on the other side was a young lady and a teenage girl who looked like mother and daughter from their striking resemblance. She settled herself at the window seat while listening patiently to the unending instruction that her parents were giving her.
When the train was about to leave, her father requested the lady sitting beside her, “My daughter is travelling alone for the first time, please help and guide her if needed.” The young lady nodded and assured Anandi’s father that she will extend all the help required during the journey.
As train left the Nagpur station, the elder ladies in the coupe started with their routine conversations. They inquired and also informed about the destination to which they were travelling. Fortunately, all the ladies were travelling to Pune. Within an hour, the ladies were seen chatting and discussing on variety of topics. Anandi felt very safe and comfortable in the company of these ladies. All the nervousness of travelling alone which had worried her before the journey began was slowing disappearing.
The young lady who introduced herself as Mrs. Tambe, was travelling with her daughter Sai. They had come to Nagpur to attend a family wedding. The three elder ladies were friends and were travelling to Pune for a three-day Yoga camp. Anandi gathered this information from their conversations.
“Where will you be staying in Pune?” The young woman asked Anandi to which she replied a little nervously, “Aunty, I am going to Pune for the first time, and my uncle will come to receive me at the railway station. I don’t know the name of the area he resides in. But I have noted down his address in my diary, which is in my bag.”
“Weather in Nagpur city is very hot compared to Pune.” Mrs. Tambe said.
“I liked the food that was served at the wedding, the special varhadi delicacies. We are also taking a basket of Nagpur oranges with us, we don’t get this quality of oranges in Pune.” Sai added to her mother’s conversation.
“Are you going to Pune for a vacation at your uncle’s house?” One of the elder ladies also had a question for her.
“No, I am going for a job interview and will stay for two days with my uncle and aunty.” She answered courteously.
“I heard when your parents were giving you instructions, I must say that they are very brave, I have seen very few people who actually have the courage for sending their daughters alone on a train journey to an unknown city. Such experiences will certainly help you become independent, Also it will help you to have a successful career in the future.” said the other lady.
As the evening progressed, Anandi forgot all her tensions while chatting and enjoying the journey with the ladies. Around 8 pm, they decided to have their dinner, so everybody took out their home packed tiffin boxes and spread it out on one side of the berth. The food from each tiffin box was passed around and shared by everyone. Together they managed to finish all that had been packed for the night. After dinner everyone spread out their sheets and retired to their respective berths for the rest of the night.
Next morning, Anandi woke up to the news that their train was running late by almost 6 hours. She heard somebody saying that a train running on the same track had met with an accident in the wee hours of the night. Due to which their train was stranded at one place for a very long time. The tracks ahead had to be cleared for their train to pass. Their train was supposed to reach Pune at around 8.30 am, but due to the delay, there was a possibility that they would now reach only by afternoon.
“Anandi beta, I think you will reach very late for your first job interview because of this delay.” One of the elderly ladies said with concern when she saw Anandi coming down from her upper berth.
“Aaji, thankfully my interview is tomorrow. I am not worried about that just now. Looking at the delay, I hope that my uncle comes to receive me at the railway station on time.” The worries and tensions were back into Anandi’s mind.
In those days having a telephone at home was not common and mobiles were yet to be invented. She was tensed because there was no way she could communicate her whereabouts to her uncle.
Around 2.45pm, their train entered Pune railway station. Anandi got down with her luggage and stood on the platform hoping to see her uncle. Her eyes wandered around everywhere but there was no sight of the familiar face she was praying to see. Mrs Tambe spotted her standing alone and came towards her. “I will wait till your uncle comes to receive you.” She said while placing her luggage down, next to Anandi’s bag. The tears that had started to form in her eyes found their way out now. The thought of standing alone on the railway platform in an unknown city had terrified Anandi.
“Thank you so much Aunty, I think my uncle must be reaching soon, there must be some confusion because of the delay in the arrival of our train”. She tried to clarify her situation.
Almost 30 minutes passed by and there was no sight of her uncle. Anandi could not think of any solution to her present predicament as her mind had frozen due to tension.
“Anandi, it’s been more than 30 minutes we have been waiting for your uncle to come. Instead of waiting here why don’t you come with me to my house?” Mrs. Tambe gave a suggestion to the problem. “I do not want to leave you standing alone on the platform, and I have to also go home.”
“Can you by any chance call your uncle on his number and inform him that you are with us?” Sai inquired
“Uncle does not have a telephone at home, but I have his office number in my diary” Anandi said while opening her bag to locate the diary.
“You can call your uncle’s office from the PCO and ask him to pick you up from our house,” Sai suggested and her mother agreed with her.
Using a public telephone booth was very common in those days. Anandi had no other option but to accept the generous offer. She had never faced such a grave situation in her life and had never taken such rash decisions before, placing her full trust in the hands of the two ladies she agreed to go with her to their house.
Mrs. Tambe’s house was in the center of Pune city which was quite far from the railway station. They had to take an auto-rickshaw to reach their house. On their way, Anandi called her uncle’s office from a public telephone booth. He was glad to know that Anandi’s train had reached, and was surprised to know that a kind lady whom she met in the train was taking her home and he had to pick her up from their house. Mrs Tambe assured him over telephone that Anandi was in safe hands and also gave him their house address.
“Uncle said he had come to receive me at the railway station at scheduled time, but when he came to know the train was delayed he went back home and came again at around 10 am. Since there were no announcements about the proper time of arrival he had to leave because of an important meeting at his office”. Anandi narrated the conversation she had with her uncle to Mrs. Tambe.
“He said he had sent his assistant to receive me at the station. He must have reached after we left from there. Uncle said that he told you he will come to pick me up in the evening” Anandi continued to defend her uncle.
The Tambe’s were a small family of five members – Mr. & Mrs. Tambe, their daughter Sai, her younger brother Hari and Mrs. Tambe’s mother-in-law, whom everyone called Mai. After having a simple but delicious lunch served by Mai, Anandi took a much-needed short nap in Sai’s bedroom. The day’s events had had an effect on her nerves and the tensions had given her a mild headache. when she woke up Sai served her tea and biscuits. She had just finished her tea when her uncle knocked on the door.
Anandi was relieved and happy to see him. “Mrs. Tambe, I cannot express my feelings and my gratitude for having taken such good care of my niece today.” There were tears in his eyes when he said that. “Anandi was my responsibility, had anything happened to her…” his voice choked and he could not complete the sentence.
“It was my duty, Mr. Rajeev.” Mrs. Tambe replied gracefully. “I could not have left Anandi standing alone on the railway platform. I am a mother of a teenage daughter, I can understand and see how nervous and tense she felt standing there when she realized that nobody had come to receive her at the station.” Mrs Tambe said while patting her back lovingly.
“I don’t have enough word to thank you for your kindness, Mrs. Tambe.” Anandi’s uncle said with folded hands. He was obliged by her kind gestures and was also surprised that such generous people still existed in this world.
“Please don’t thank me, Mr. Rajeev, I was just doing my duty. Anybody in my place would have behaved in similar way. She was in tension when she did not see you at the railway station. I think because the train got delayed you could not come to receive her.” Mrs. Tambe expressed her thoughts
“Today it was your niece, tomorrow it could be my daughter, who would need some help. It is said that life is a boomerang, and you get what you give. We all are in need of help some time or other, and God sees to it that we get it at that appropriate time. I have always believed that it is the chain of kindness that keeps the world afloat. And that is how we can make this world a better place to live.” Mrs. Tambe’s thoughts and words gave a new meaning to Anandi’s life that day.
Anandi and her uncle thanked the Tambe family once again before saying goodbye. On their way while driving back home, Anandi’s uncle told her that she was fortunate to have met a person like Mrs. Tambe in the train and that he had never met such kind and generous people in his entire life before.
Next day, Anandi cleared her interview and got the job as an assistant executive in a big company. As years passed by, the memories of Mrs. Tambe and her family got blurred but the kindness shown by them remained engraved in her mind forever.
Today she was at the pinnacle of her career and she knew reaching there was possible only because of the generosity showed by a young woman to a complete stranger. As a child she had heard stories from her grandmother about how God takes different forms to help those who are in need. She believed that God had actually come to help her that day in the form of a young woman.
Published earlier here.
Image source Pixabay
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