Wednesday, 23 October 2013

That Night . . .

Smart Suraksha.
I looked at the words and the description of the mobile app and my mind raced back one year, when I was in my first job. In Mumbai.
Mumbai. The city of dreams. Of Shah Rukh Khan. Of Gateway of India. Of Sea Link.
Coming from Delhi, I was extremely happy to be a part of a brighter city like Mumbai. I loved my work. I loved my colleagues. I loved my neighbours. And I loved the people of Mumbai. Everyone seemed friendly, spoke softly, and seemed to care about you. Everyone seemed good. Until that day.
It was a Friday. “Fridays are party days” - as people in Mumbai love to say. We partied till late in the Bandra suburbs of Mumbai. We had a reason to party - our company has just won a big award at a major award function. And the boss said the award was dedicated to all the new, young employees ! Yes, we were excited !
I don’t drink. Okay, that’s a lie, but that night I didn’t drink much. Because I knew I had to go back home late in the night. Mansi would drop me till Bandra station and from there on I will take a ‘Local’ for my home. Local - the local trains in Mumbai. Fast, safe, reliable. Even entertaining. “Dangerous” is not the word one usually associates with it. Not even when you are sitting at the top of the train, right beneath the high-tension electric wires. Not even in the nights.
When Mansi dropped me at the Railway station, it was 4 in the morning. Yes, that late. It was dark all over and a bit chilly, it being winter. Though to most of Delhiites winter in Mumbai is a joke, but 4 am is a good time to feel a little bit of chill. I folded my hands and entered the station. It was empty inside. So I sat on a bench, waiting for the train. The next one - the indicator showed me - was due in twenty minutes. I buried my face in my lap to save myself from the chill.
I’m not sure if I dozed off sitting at that bench, but when I brought my face up, the train was there - standing still on the platform. I jumped on my feet and got into it. As if on cue, the train started moving as soon as I took my seat in the almost empty compartment. Almost, because I could see another soul - in the otherwise empty ladies compartment. She was in blue, sitting at a distance, facing away from me, leaning against one of the walls of the compartment. It looked like she had dozed off. I could tell that she, just like me, was coming back from a party.
The train moved at a brisk speed and the air got even more chillier. The wind, now blowing through the windows and the doors was adamant on freezing me. I moved away from the coveted window seat, towards the center of the compartment where - I hoped - the wind wouldn’t be able to catch me. All in vain. The only sure-shot way of avoiding this chilly breeze was to sleep - as was evident from the girl in the blue party dress.
The next station came. The train came to a halt, and I took a sigh of relief. 15 seconds of no wind ! I was enjoying my moment when I saw three men getting into the compartment. The ladies compartment becomes a general one in the late nights, so I wasn’t really surprised. They looked at the girl in blue, and sat next to her. Now I was alarmed. The men looked in their late twenties and early thirties, and were wearing shirts. I knew they didn’t mean well from the moment I saw them sitting besides the girl when there was plenty of room elsewhere to sit. Next thing I know, the girl wakes up with a jerk. I’m not sure what happened, because we two were on the other ends of the compartment. The girl or the men, hadn’t seen me, yet.
I could see some movements there. The men were trying to talk to her. Then, suddenly, one of them held her hand. She began to shout at them. That didn’t help. All I could see was the men and the girl struggling with each other. I looked out of the window for help and realized that the train had stopped. Not on a station, though, but right in the middle of nowhere. I looked at the mess ahead in the train again. I wasn’t sure if the train stopping was a good thing or a bad one. But I couldn’t stay like this. I couldn’t keep quiet. I knew if I spoke even I’d be in trouble but if I don’t stand up of for this girl right now, I cannot expect others to stand up for me, either.
So I stood up and shouted - “Hey”.
There was a total silence for a few moments as the men and the girl realized there was someone else in the compartment too. Then the men left the girl and stood up. All staring at me. I looked at the girl - she was crying, tears rolling down her cheeks. And trying to smile, on finding me in that compartment. The men had mixed expressions. That of fear and anger. The expression gravitated towards anger as they slowly started moving towards me. Now it was my turn to be afraid. Just then the train started moving again with a jerk. The jerk made the jerks fall. And the girl got up and ran towards me. Through the fallen men. It was now the two of us, standing face-to-face with the three men, in a train running at a relatively slow speed.
One of the men jumped ahead and grabbed the girl. The girl slapped him in his face, so hard that he was completely disoriented for a moment. And in that moment the girl made a leap for the door. I knew what she was doing and tried to stop her. But before I could, the girl had jumped from the train. Everybody froze for a second. Then I rushed to the door. The train was slower than usual but not so much that one can jump off without getting hurt. I looked out for the girl. There she was lying on the tracks. Hurt badly, but alive.
I looked back at the men. With anger and fear. The girl jumping off the train had slowed them down. Collateral damage. They started moving towards me. I didn’t know what to do. I hurled my purse at them. It hit one of them in the face. And he stopped for a moment, massaging his face. The other two, in the meanwhile came ahead and held my wrists. The man who was hit by my face was pissed off. He moved towards me with eyes laced with anger, lust and hatred. I looked out for help, it was morning now. Though it was light, I couldn’t see anyone there. It was early morning and the world hadn’t woken up. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. I didn’t know what to do. Just then the train stopped at a station. There was no one in sight. “HELP”, I cried, in hope of getting some. “What’s happening?” somebody replied, in the local language. It was a woman’s voice. I smiled in hope. The men were startled. Two of them went to the door to see who it was, while one held me at the back of the compartment. And in just that moment, knowing I could get help if I could get out, I bit the hand of the man holding my wrist. He cried in pain and I dashed towards the door. The two men were standing there, with their back towards me. I pushed them, making them fall on the platform with me. I got up and saw a group of 7-8 women standing there. They looked like fisherwomen, a common sight in Mumbai’s trains. I ran towards them. They understood the matter and ran to rescue me. The train had started moving by then, and the men briskly got in.
I was saved. They took me to the an officer at the station. I told him the entire story. They sent a team to look for the girl in blue.
I was in shock. I had always read that in storied but never believed it would happen to me someday.
I keep on thinking of the girl who jumped off from the train. I hope she is alright. I wish she had Smart Suraksha with her. I wish I had Smart Suraksha with me.
I am participating in the Seeking Smart Suraksha contest at in association with Smart Suraksha App


  1. Well Done Arunima . Brilliant post & a well deserved win

  2. Quite scary, gave me goosebumps indeed.. Aptly meant when you say wish the girl had smart surakha and you had it too..
    Congrts for being the winner...!!

  3. This is so scary and you are lucky to be saved. a prize winning post. congrats. but no female should face what you had to.

  4. That was shocking. Why don't they employ a couple of lady constables in the ladies compartments, who are trained to handle such situations and can immediately request more help, if need be?

    BTW, congrats on the BlogAdda win.

  5. congrats arunima.quite shocking story..and well deserved post

  6. Congrats dear :) After reading your post I can say that you deserved it :) Congratulations again :)

  7. Congrats Arunima!
    Well-done! 2 wins from 3 Posts! Too good:)
    Chilling Story indeed. Glad you are saved.

  8. Congrats :) really you deserved it...

  9. Written very well...

    Arvind Passey

  10. Congrates...I hope this would never happen to anyone again ....very well written