Saturday, 21 October 2017

Survival of the fittest: how women struggle in railways and survive too!

I love train journeys ever since I was a child. Though initially I had no choice considering my father being in Army and we had to shift places all across the country depending on where he is posted. My early memories are of second class coach which was quite comfortable mostly with lot of luggage and ticket collector problems. However as I grew older, I simply enjoyed sitting in train going to far off places, watching over the windows, passing trees, river and yes meeting different people! But second class shifted to third AC and eventually 2nd AC because of comfort and sense of security.

I remember coming from Jhansi to Pune in 2nd class via train where we didn’t get reservation; the coach was full of maddening crowd, interestingly the people who had reservation couldn’t even reach towards their own seats. I was scared and on that I decided not to travel without reservation! And somewhere that’s the reason why I refrain from traveling in the second class coach. But while travelling from Khajuraho to Jhansi, my friend and I had no option but to travel with second class ticket. It was quite warm that day, we got our seats in the crowded coach. I took a sigh of relief which didn’t really last long. 

To my surprise, there were two trains which moves from Khajuraho to Jhansi (this is not the last destination), however at one random station, few coaches were added to the train in which I was traveling and what happened next was nothing less than a huge chaos. Oceans of people barged in the coach (this included people without reservations, with general ticket) and with every passing station the crowd just kept growing, making difficult for people to even stand on their two feet. The people with reservation tried doing everything to shoo them away that included abuses, physical pushing, insulting, requesting etc, however nothing worked. 

At the very same time, i saw a woman requesting the person lying on the top berth to give some space so that her 2 years old son could sit. He refused and refused but with her constant pleading he agreed! To his surprise, this lady climbed up with his son in her lap along with another woman, making that man to sit. The crowd went mad calling that woman by names, asking her to get down, and insulting her but she seemed persistent giving fitted reply!

I was rather happy seeing the woman not because she took someone’s place but how she actually gathered the courage to survive in the maddening crowd consisting of men. She travels daily, she has a son in her arms and definitely if she keeps standing, it is a surety that one or other she might get hurt, molested or her son would suffer in many possible way but defying the traditional structures she fought back and make a space for herself. I don’t think that is unfair, after all that’s what Darwin said!  

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