Sunday, July 30, 2006

Shiv Sankees, not Shiv Sainiks

...and there I was, hanging on to his collar, my other arm flailing wildly in thin air as the raindrops battered my skin as if sanctifying his act. One feet rested on the footboard and the other bobbing wildly outside like a towel on a clothes-line. The wind made it even worse and all I could was stare blankly at his face in fright.

I still maintain, I'd done nothing brave in asking the few puerile Shiv-Sainiks to behave themselves, crowding illegally into the first class compartment. Their cacophony wasn't music to our ears. The other commuters merely tched tched in disgust. I was there too, a representative of a generation awakened (Right, Mr.Rakesh Mehra?) to fight for something which I believed was right.

Initially when these saffron banded, ruffian looking boys entered the compartment, they brought along with them the nauseating smell of booze. But that was not the end of it. There was dirty talk that followed, apparently about a certain lady that one of them had dumped. Triumphant about it, they were celebrating vociferously and their conversation would have given the Censor Board much fodder to chop (or rather, chomp on). It was numbing, especially when you could see the partially crowded ladies comartment wince annoyingly at their foul language and rash behavior.

The Rang De Basanti spirit is a dicey feeling. Sometimes, it overwhelms you so much that you forget the situation you're faced with and firmly believe in righteousness. But the resulting feeling is an unbelievable calm and serenity of thought, wherein nothing, absolutely nothing can shake your resolve, forget breaking it. And with such firm resolve I confronted them.

"Excuse me, do you realise this is a first class compartment? Do you have the required ticket?" I ask.
A sheepish grin followed as one of the four men startlingly looked up at me. "Are you the TTE?"

"No, I'm not...but I must request you not to create chaos in the compartment..." I replied flatly.

"Huh? Who're you to say so?" he hollered back. This time, I felt several faces peek around from the rest of the compartment. Everybody's eyes rested on us. That's Mumbai for you. Any minor confrontation, any minor abuse becomes an event, a spectacle which people watch with craned necks. And that's exactly what happened here. I was expecting some support from the rest of the 10-odd men in the compartment.
"What are you going to do?" he continued.
"Nothing. Just don't create pandemonium in the train." I retorted calmly.
"Why? What will you do? Throw us off the train? Eh?"
And saying so, he rose.

A slap followed on my neck, which I could not manage to defend. A few men from the other corner of the train let go off their I-pods and Palmtops momentarily and tried to come to my aid, but this fellow had already dragged me to the door. The train was running swiftly, almost adding fuel to the proceedings.

And then he almost threw me off. Almost. I clung on to his collar, as the rain battered my eyelids, the scenes passing around me in a hazy marquee. My heartbeats almost climaxed into a pounding and I gasped to suck in wet air laden with raindrops. Suddenly, I felt a great rush inside me and I was pulled back into the train. Unable to breathe, I choked for air.

I was knocked out.

From what I was told when I woke up a few minutes later, just in time before my station arrived, the burly young men were in fact Shiv-Sainiks and it was the leader of their gang, who could have almost flung me at a passing railway pole.

I thanked my fellow commuters for the help, but silently brooded over the fact, that it was me alone who rose to pick a fight. Was I wrong in doing so? Or was I just trying to find a cause to take Shiv-Sainiks to task?

PS: Make that Shiv-Sankees, please.