By Anindita Mondal:
Leisurely leaning by the steel pole, I stood, lost in my thoughts. Though the Metro coach reserved for ladies, was not packed, but all its seats had been occupied first, and then accommodated with a few more ladies.
I had given up my seat for an elderly woman who came with a lot of baggages. Not like I had given it up willingly, respecting the little yellow board with black figures on it. In fact, I had noticed the board once before, because the figure with the baby bump was interesting. Little yellow boards with figures usually hang before restroom doors, and they are usually sans baby bumps. But then, I realized this particular yellow board was something I was better off having not noticed. It said, “Offer your seat to those in need”. Since then, I have tried my best, not to think about it too much.
I had given up my seat not because certainÂ humongousÂ feeling of social responsibility had gripped me. I gave up the seat because even before she had entered the train, she had brutally pierced me with her stare. Her eyes read “Get up! Haven’t your parents taught you how to respect elders? Stupid girl!”
It was starting to drizzle outside. A weather we Delhiites get to see on days when our constellations are aligned well enough, to amuse the goddess of luck herself. Perhaps this was one of those divine moments. I was lazily gazing at the trees and buildings run under a sober sky, thinking about long lost lovely days.
Suddenly a sharp pain hit my ear drums. “zingiriziriziri aa re aa re.” It seemed as if a bloody wound had been slashed into the silent atmosphere, which so far was being sweetly cajoled by the rhythm of the rail and the voices inside the speakers overhead. If I am not mistaken it is the new Airtel signature tune. Many of my readers would say “Hey come on! We like it!” But honestly, you couldn’t have said that, had you been in my situation.
The ringtone, very obediently, played till the end and then started all over again. A girl before me was fiddling with her cell phone. Her ears blissfully stuffed with her earphone pods. Her thumb, notoriously gliding, over the keypad. “Duh, woman! Switch the damned thing off.” I shouted in my mind. The loud tone was now ferociously banging against my skull.
Other ladies in the compartment, most of whom sat lost in oblivion, like me, were now searching for the source of the disruption. The girl, after a few minutes abandoned the buttons and looked up. The noise continued its riot.
Over twenty five pairs of eyes met hers. I made sure I gave her one of my dirtiest looks. “Hell with your cell phone! You moron, lacking even a teaspoon full of civic sense! ” I tried hard for my eyes to convey the message. To my disappointment, she reciprocated with confusion spread across her face.
“Pragati Maidan station. Doors will open on the left. Please mind the gap.” As the doors opened an Aunty seated right next to her got up, proceeded towards the door, minded the gap and walked towards the stairs. The ringtone, committed to Doppler’s effect slowly died. The doors closed.
And for the next ten minutes, no one spoke.
The writer is a Correspondent with The Times of India and a Columnist at Youth Ki Awaaz.