I was standing at the door, the train was ready to move when I saw the couple with their daughter and parents rushing with their luggage. I had my doubts about their boarding this train. I signalled to them to get into any compartment, near to them. They did not understand and were focussed on getting into the one where their allocated seats were.
As soon as they reached the door, I gave a hand, pulled them and their luggage in.
The train started moving while the son was getting in and all of them were in, safe.
The anxiety of may not make it on time, fear of missing the train, pacy heartbeat and phew, the relief with a nervous smile and laughter were on the faces of all of them.
Thank God, we made it, the young man said wiping his sweat, had lost hope of making it. The cab broke down , took some time to get another.
You should have got into the nearest compartment walked inside the train, since all the bogies are connected.
All is well that ends well, I said.
Sister’s delivery expected any time, he said.
We were in the same cabin.
Finally, they started arranging their luggage under the seat.
I took my water bottle and poured water onto my mouth and more water flowed on to my shirt than in.
The kid started laughing .
I just smiled.
She was reminded of her thirst and she asked her mother for water.
Looks like they forgot in the rush.
She told her, wait we will buy it.
I offered my bottle to the kid when she said no, it’s your water and it is echil in malayalam (she meant it touched my mouth).
Her grandfather told her you can drink that water, it is not echil. You saw how uncle drank that water. See his shirt is wet. He drinks like that so that he can share with others, not like us, once we drink from a glass or bottle, nobody else can drink, take it.
Did I blush ? His words churned my inside. This has been my habit, formed may be for this reason which I had forgotten. It was nice of him to have noticed and made a mention of it.
The kid took the bottle and tried to drink it that way, which was difficult. I said, you dont have to drink it like that now, do it when you grow up. You can carry a glass along.
She drank and gave it back to me and I drank a little my way to show her, everything is fine.
Within five minutes, a vendor came announcing mineral water. They bought four bottles and saw all of them trying to drink without mouth to mouth, spilling all around, in the running train.The young man said, not used to the style and we all had a good laugh.
The splendid start of a relationship, lifted our spirits, creating a feel good mood and we kept exchanging pleasant and inspirational stories Generally, we become friends with common interests like criticizing the government, the corporations who keeps the city dirty, the thankless maid, company, salary, bosses, diversity, trafic,blah blah..
The kid sat next to me and said uncle, you know stories ? tell me a story.
You tell me one, I told her.
Which one? She asked.
Any one you know, I said.
I will tell the story of the lion eating animals in the jungle.
There was a king in the jungle.
In the jungle ? I asked
No, there was a lion in the jungle, he was the king.
I said ok
She continued, folding her arm at the elbow, he was strong.
He called all the animals to his house, she said.
He had a house ? I asked her.
She started thinking with her lovely eyes looking up.
He was in a cave, she said.
Cave ? Did he make it? I asked.
Caves are there, no, you dont have to make, she said. I try to misdirect her because I loved the cute way she would handle them with her lovely expressions and body language.
Ok, then, the animals came ? I asked her.
Yes, giraffe, fox, goats, all came.
What about elephants ? I asked.
She starts thinking.
Elephant is bigger than the lion, I told her, they may not have come.
No they have come, she said because Lion is king.
What about Tiger ? I asked
Everybody came, I told you, Lion is king , she was emphatic, her logic gave attendance to all.
Ok, then what happened?
Every day one of you should come here, so that I can eat you , the lion said.
All the animals got scared. They started crying and said, King please dont eat us, please, please,please…
They said please please please, 3 times , I asked ?.
She counted, the word, uttering please, please ,please, 3 times and showed her hand with 3 fingers closed.
The Lion said everyday, I have to walk walk till I find you. You see me and run. I have to run after you.
From tomorrow you come here. Who will come first ? All quiet, all crying. Lion got angry. I will eat you now.Who will come tomorrow ?
I asked her, what about today ?
She said, he ate in the morning. He is not hungry.
Let me say dont ask, she got annoyed.
Sorry sorry, tell, I told her.
Lion asked who will come tomorrow ?
One rabbit said, I will come.
she had her eyes wide open. They all clapped.
Lion asked why are you clapping ? After rabbit who is coming ? Again they started crying.
Rabbit said, the deer will come.
Deer said no, no, I will not come.
Lion said, then I will eat you now..
The deer said dont eat me now, I will come.
Then they all went back.
Rabbit told them dont worry, after eating me he will not eat anybody.
How ? Everybody came close.
Tomorrow I will tell you, stop crying.
All the animals came to the rabbit and said bye bye. The rabbit told them I will not go now.
Why why, they asked.
I will go after some time.
Go now, Iion will be angry and kill us.
What was the name of the rabbit, I interrupted and broke her flow.
She looked seriously at me, no name.
Ok , I said.
Listen, she tapped my hand, you know what happened.
The rabbit went, slowly slowly
He came to the lion. Lion was angry. He was hungry.
Angry or hungry ? I asked.
She thought and said, angry and hungry.
Rabbit said, I saw another Lion, he said he is king.
you are not the king . I ran away.
The lion did not eat the rabbit, he said I am the King.
Hmmm, Where is that Lion, come show me.
The rabbit told the Lion, you come back of me.
You mean the rabbit told the lion to follow him, I interrupted again.
She thought for a second and shook her head, she did not know the word follow.
Follow means to go behind the rabbit, I said
Follow, she muttered, learned a new word. Ok , then ?
The rabbit took the king here, there, there, she said gesturing with her hands and came to a well.
There is water in the well. The rabbit said, he is inside the well.
When you look into water, you can see face, no, like that lion looked into the well and saw his face.
He thought it is another Lion. She laughed at the foolishness of the lion. The lion did Grr grr. In the water also the lion did grr grr. He is same no.
Then he jumped into well. He cannot come up.
Rabbit is smart, I said.
Lion is strong and foolish.
Rabbit ran back and told the animals, lion is in the well. He will not eat us. They were all happy.
Yes, finish she said with a triumphant look.
Good story, Nanditha. I liked it, no use being strong, you should not be foolish, ok.
“Uncle, what will Lion eat ? ” a thought provoking question. Her parents who were listening, looked surprised. The father said she has never asked this question.
I did not know what to answer.
“Can it eat grass, apples ?”
The Lion who is the villain in the story, all of a sudden looked a hero who deserves sympathy.
The Lion can eat grass but it needs meat, I said. It should eat a naughty animal.
Which animal should he eat I asked her.
She thought for sometime, tapping her cheek and said, the big bad wolf.
Big bad wolf, friend of Red riding hood ?, I asked.
Not a friend, she said.
There is another story, a strong lion and a small mouse.
The mother called and said, enough, let us sleep, you have to get up at 3 in the morning.
Bye good night.
I moved to the side seat opposite to her grandfather. I told him, I enjoyed her story telling. She wanted to tell me another one.
After dinner he started telling me his story, his life in the army, the highlight was the 1971 war. He had a calm voice, spoke slowly with a deliberation.
“You can sleep whenever you want”, he said, ” I will not sleep”.
“Sure, when you find me yawning, you can tell me to go”, I told him
We kept talking until 3 o’clock in the morning, before they got out of the train.
The summary of conversation, he gave me three points to think of.
If you do not fear death, then you will dare to do anything
People respect you for the value you can provide in their life.
I am hoping to go upstairs in good health.
Unfortunately the exit date is not in our hands. Never mind what we do, nobody leaves before their end date. You must have heard of stories of great rescue or escaping death due to God’s grace.
In the war two of my friends exchanged positions, within minutes one of them got shot and he died.
That way all of us are escaping death every moment, until we leave. The simple reason is time has not come.
1. Lion and animals image from net
2. Lion and rabbit, image from net
3. Lion and rabbit on the well, sketch by T