Theft On The Train
by Rhea Aggarwal
A long time ago, when I was in 7th grade, my aunt was engaged and looking forward to her marriage. We had decided to take a train to her in law’s place since a Hindu marriage or any marriage for that matter calls for a lot of luggage and small trinkets to be carried around and a plane ride would be quite expensive.
There were several cons to a train ride especially with the kind of luggage we were carrying. They were boxes of jewellery and expensive gift items (marriage being an extravagant affair). Train rides are infamously unsafe and are quite the epitome of opportunity for the locals thugs. Thus clutching the luggage to our chests, in the scorching heat of June, we reached the Nizamuddin station in Delhi only to find that the train was running late by 2 hours.
We sat on the platform, making a circle around the luggage and indulged in light laughter and a lot of fried snacks, typical of a train ride. Finally at 4 pm, the train entered the station and there was a wild rush to get in. After a lot of pushing around we entered the carriage and found our seats. It was, what I call a 4+2 arrangement. All the ladies were seated in the 4-bed compartment and the 2 gents in the upper and lower birth directly in front of us.
Evening tea was served around 7 (it is kind is an addiction in my family. We can’t go a day without the tea. The aroma soothes are nerves and gives us the strength to go about our day. It is more of a ritual in my family.) We had a quick dinner at 8:30 and after a rather dull game of cards we all retired to sleep at about 9. The luggage and heat had weighed us down and we were all looking forward to rejuvenate our tired spirits.
The day had gone relatively uneventful despite the threat of theft hanging in the air, yet the night was about to get exponentially exciting. At about 2 am I felt an urge to pee and just when I was about to get off the upper birth in which I was sleeping I heard a noise; a very
dull “Phssss”. My eyes flew open and I realised the noise was coming from my aunt who was staring at me with her one eye cocked open. I heaved a sign of relief and said, “ you awake?”
She asked me where I was going to which I expressed my earnest desire to use the washroom. She suggested that I should take a male member along as it could be – I have already wasted a lot of breath repeating that- unsafe to move about alone on the train at night. I reluctantly got up, not wanting to leave the comfort of the a.c. I jumped down and approached my grandfather who was sleeping soundly. I whispered for him to wake up.
Immediately I heard the shouts; “ thief, thief, thief on the train.” I scrambled to catch the thief in the dark but someone held my hand. I was whorled around and then the lights came on, someone had pulled the chain, people were shouting and screaming to catch the thief. I looked around to find my grandpa holding my hand with a slipper in his other hand, poised to strike.
It took a few seconds before my adrenaline-addled brain cleared and things began to make sense. My grandpa had thought I was a thief and raised the alarm. He was so preoccupied with the thoughts of theft that my disturbance caused him to believe that there really was a thief on the train, as if the thief would wake him up before making away with everything. The train had been stopped- the driver was not happy about that- the entire coach was awake and my family was looking at me as if I was crazy. They questioned me, trying to find out if this was my idea of a prank. I assured them that I just wanted to pee and the whole episode had me jump out of my skin. After several groans and swears, the neighbour announced and I quote “ it was just a little girl wanting to use the toilet.” I had turned red with the whole coach staring at me. Finally my aunt came down from her birth, took my hand and led me to the washroom, shushing the others all the way.