One get to know that India is a country of one billion people when one arrives at the railway station in the season of festivals. Once again it is the time for the festival of light, sweets and crackers. Railway stations are again overcrowded and so are the trains. People are anxious to reach their home. For some there is light in their heart while for some it is once again the monotonous replay of what happened last time.
It was last year in the month of November when my adventurous self took me on board the great chariot of hope- the Jansadharan express, for the other India. This trains runs daily on the Patna-Delhi-Patna route. The best thing this train offer to the jansadharan (common man) is that it is cleaned only once in its complete journey of around 50hours. The colonial mindset that common man lives in dirt still prevails and what is more the train is never short of people as the moment it arrives from Patna our jansadharan fights a battle to enter the train and all at the cost of mere 200rupees.
But last year it was different as the train was nine hours late and the crowd was increasing geometrically with every passing minute. Personally I was loaded with some emotional upheavals of the city life as well as with a strong urge to meet my parents back in Bihar. With little money I had in my pocket it seemed difficult that I will complete my journey safely and with my dignity intact. And as the crowd kept increasing a fear struck me whether I will make my way into the train or not. But suddenly an old man, standing beside me in ragged clothes and heavy glasses magnifying his eyes, quipped with assurance and smile: eehe train bhagwan chhath je sabke seat mil jayat (it is this train God that all will get a seat).
The statement allayed all my fears and I started to study the crowd. On a half kilometer stretch of the platform I had to make great efforts to jostle from one end to another. There were people with stained teeth and in unfashionable clothes and with some small-some big plastic bags full of their belongings. The best thing I found was that there was no expression of loss on any face and no lofty ambitions in their talks as I got to know when I eavesdropped at many talking junctions. There were labourers working in the rapidly growing urban jungle around Delhi and the workers upon who depend the burden of civilization, which the people in cities are growing mercilessly and without any stint of concern for the future. To my surprise, I found people talking about politics. I found the discussions more fruitful and result oriented than what we discuss in the seminars and debates in our universities. There was no concern for any utopianism. All they were concerned was with the practical solutions of the visible problems.
The nine hours passed smoothly and there was an announcement of the arrival of the train. Suddenly a tsunami of human movement shooked the platform and somewhat drowsy India was now at revolution. The train had arrived and a never to end rush started. It took about half an hour for the whole platform to adjust into the train. I managed to get a seat near a window in a compartment full with thirty heads and all one could have managed was to breathe some stale air as it was hard to make any movement. The train was never cleaned when it waited for around an hour. At 9pm the journey started.
In about two hours the revolution which had started on the platform normalized. People were again at ease and the chattering of lips and smell of tobacco captured my imagination. The emotional upheavals I have been through the day were of no concern to me now. Rather what engrossed my mind was the great human spirit which always makes something out of nothing. As the year has passed, that day I found that the train was really a great chariot of hope. The other India can still hope to gain their share. And as long as the burden of civilization is on the other India which is strangely confident, innocent and satisfied with what they have, nothing bad could happen to the country-to the dependents of civilization.
After a year there is again upheaval but not emotional rather there is upheaval of ideas. World is engrossed in many battles but I am not worried anymore. I know that the worries will not last for long. It will convulse inside a Jansadharan express and will reach its destination no matter if the train is nine hours late. The train god will adjust everyone, the old man had rightly said and all will celebrate the diwali, if once, we the dependents of civilization release the rightful share of those who carry the burden of civilization. Let there be again a revolution of movement and let there be a diwali for the jansadharan, before the train arrives Patna.
*Writer is a student of political science in Delhi University