I was to be a doctor, A DOCTOR! I tried, not because my parents wanted, but that’s what I thought I should do at that point in time. Obviously, life had other plans for me.
I was 17. Blood was never as hot as for my peers. I wasn’t stubborn. But looked serious, so I am told. Grew up in a college campus, professor’s kid! May be the glasses; always felt out of place in a group, still do!
Doctor, that’s what I wanted to be! I knew that the exam was tough; a mass hysteria! One day affair, two sessions of draining vomit of the past two years, definitely it’s going to stink. Sense prevailed by evening, I was not going to be a doctor.
Me and my Dad, decided to run away from that examination centre, from that city, at the first given opportunity. No booking, ride the general compartment , that was the call.
One of the very first long train rides that I took- worst experience of my life except for the blowing wind. The train has always had that smell of iron & dust like the blood and sweat of the many men who thrived to build that massive network. Standing, swaying, sleeping, the night was getting longer than that day. The meal of the night was slowly developing into something monstrous within me. I wondered about my Dad’s stomach and then about all the others in that train, a train full of that night’s meal!
I was carrying the bag which was more like to complete that trip. A trip needed a bag, I assume. It was an exam, so a pen, a pencil etc- so a bag was justified.
After almost eight hours of journey, standing and swaying, smelling neighbors aged sweat, we both were like zombies who rubbed their eyes open to the fact that the train doesn’t stop at our usual stop. I was heart broken, raged; Dad was saying something- did he say next stop? Was he crazy? Next stop! Pull that chain, someone? People joined in our discussion- I was isolated again in that group- I don’t need your suggestions – NO NEXT STOP!
Arguments. Train was slowing down for some reason. Bag, me, Dad, that was the order from the door. Jump? My blood was on the hob, slowly boiling. Dad wondering, can I make it- THE JUMP? Next stop is another one and a half hour of swaying and jumping in another mode of land transport! Jump now or jump later? Your choice!
It was 4 am. Not yet dawn. Yellow lights hardly helping to see. I saw the train turning, slowing down. Almost stopping. Bag, me, Dad- that was my plan- didn’t ask what my Dad’s was!
It was 4:02. Cold a bit, but my boiling blood kept me warm. Train is passing the station now. Me and my bag can make it, I thought; didn’t ask what my Dad thought!
The moment I jumped, train started picking up speed, it had a plan, to reach the next stop and the stops after. The sound of the train started getting louder. I stood there, watching my dad struggling through the vertical steps of the pacing train. What the fuck did I just do?
Train was upset, it seemed. Getting faster and louder. What was my Dad thinking at that time? Was he thinking I didn’t have any money in my hand? Was he thinking he might not be able to make it? Was he worried leaving his teenager son at that time of the night alone on the track? Was he thinking of my childhood? I really hope he was just thinking about his life at that time, for God’s sake!
He jumped, just escaping the nearby metal pole which I am sure he wasn’t aware of. As I looked, I saw his silhouette struggling to balance on the rubbles around the tracks. The train made a dramatic exit out of the scene bringing the violent background score to an end. Silence and darkness took over, and the crickets.
That was one of the longest one minute of my life so far!
We were far apart; Dad walked towards me without complaining, calm. I don’t think we said anything during our next ten minutes’ ride from the station, or even the next day. I was still angry, blood hot. That night the doctor in me died forever and it all went out of hands afterwards.
Later I apologized to my Dad for that night. I still do at times in my mind!
25 years, it still gives me chill to my spine how that night could have changed our lives. The power of a particular moment that you have still fascinates me. It influences our future beyond our imagination!
Why was I hurrying? What was bothering me? Was I just being an asshole? Maybe I was just a slave of that moment of which I had no control.