God’s Own Dilemma

On July 26th, 2005 Bombay witnessed the heaviest rainfall ever. Well, if not so, it was enough to submerge the streets and concentrate people in high-lying railway platforms, bus-stops etc. We, three friends, were victim too. I wrote this reflective account after few days. It was first published in this blog.

Sometimes or should I say more than often, I doubt my existence. I know I do exist physically and at least some people can corroborate the fact, but this is not the evidence that matters to the world at large.

Recently, when Mumbai was marooned and transport network was at disarray, we were stranded at Dadar station. There, crowd was huge and every single square feet was occupied. The restroom, the platform, the foot-over-bridge, the single express train that remained canceled, all places were saturated. The floor everywhere was wet because of the incessant cat and dog rain, and the restless-uncertain and aimless feet. People were roaming, standing or if fortunate enough leaning against the wall, column or anything that stood still. Outside the station, water had rose waist high which could be worse a little far. People from Mahalaxmi, Chuchgate, Parel and other small stations had already gathered here before water soared critical level. Commuters had the general idea of the locality and did not bulge out of the safe place. True, platform is one the safest places in India even in usual days, barring the railway officials and guards who may wish to earn some easy money and occasional thieves. Numerous nights I have spent on platforms, reading books and remaining clutched to my belongings at the relatively unused part of it. That night there was no such luxury.

I realised that I was lost in the tiny world, that I did not matter to anyone except myself and that my stay was meaningless and for my own survival, as the rest of my life had been. I was running our of patience and the nightmare was seemingly never ending. Of course, Richard Dawkins was true, I (or my genes) was/were ensuring my/their own survival and I was no different. Oh..something pricked at my conscience….why should I, at the first place, wish to be different ? I am one of them, as selfish and social as anybody else suffering in the nature’s fury at the “human-shade”-Dadar. I was also looking for some dry place to rest on, and jealously kept it occupied as others had done. Advertisement hoardings, featuring beautiful celebrities and models had been beds for tired working people, but wasn’t that my idea just did not materialise because we were good boys ! So why was the longing to be different ? Did I solicit attention, or heroism or at least stand out in the crowd? Obviously not that big. I only wished special privilege for myself, to get back to ***, to have a good night’s sleep. Alas, I was not lonely in thinking so.

I could not breathe more, the compartment of the only train standing was suffocating. The filthy odour form the toilet has filled it, which was frequently being used. I sprung out of the precious little space we shared in the upper berth and rushed out of the train. “Prabin…Prabin” cried out Ranjeet, “panch hi baje he ek ghanta our sut le“. His voice was suggesting he was too struggling to catch forty winks. I could not stop. Ambivalence had made me impassive. I knew i could not be assured of my existence, the individuality was lost and only names and faces were floatin…..

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