Lost in thought, in the maddening crowd waiting for the next train on a Sunday evening, I was staring blankly, looking at nothing in particular. I had come to see-off UC, Sunil and 9.
A man carrying a stretcher on his head, suddenly comes into my focus and I have an impulse to look down. But, I manage to look at people who are closer to the guy, and see looks of pity, shock and disgust. Most of them looked down, sooner than later. It was not long before the man, was right next to me and I could see an injured man lying on the stretcher with a stream of blood oozing out of his head. All I could manage was another expression of pity, shock and disgust. I didn’t want to act as if I had seen nothing. I didn’t want to stay as if I could do nothing about it. I didn’t want to look down. But, that’s all I ended up doing. The man carrying the stretcher was not exactly struggling, but I’m sure he would’ve more than liked some help. Not one amongst us moved.
Around half a minute later, I see a constable walking calmly (maybe with a shade of concern in his stride) in that direction. The next train was there in less than a minute and 9 got into it. I was feeling absolute disgust at my reaction. In the hope of making some amends, I walked in the direction that the stretcher guy took. Soon I found them. I didn’t have to search. There was an audience of onlookers, watching the stretcher carrying guy inspect the other guy. He was waiting near the entrance of the station and I’m guessing he had called for some medical help and was waiting for it to arrive. The policeman and a couple of others were standing next to him, while he was inspecting the injuries. Everybody else was watching — from the stairs, from the over bridge, the platform, the tracks. Everywhere. Being a part of that crowd was the last thing I wanted to do. I walked away.
PS: I (infact, we – uc, sunil, 9 and me) have had my own tryst with the Mumbai local. Keep your head on your shoulders, while you are anywhere near them. They are not the trains in your local fair.