It was a regular train running between Gaya and Patna. A daily passenger train. Taking a 4 hour time for what should take about two hours. But, it did not matter. Everyone is used to it. Halt of a train for an hour or so at one of the midway stations does not affect anyone anymore. This abnormality has been weaved seamlessly into the normal lives of people who take this train regularly. Train going from Patna to Gaya on the morning of 12th Sept 1997 halted at Nadma, a small station, more nearer to Patna than Gaya. Sitting in one of the dusted, unkempt seats was Dr Arvind Agarwal, a practicing physician from Gaya. As the train halted, few people got off and few more went aboard. After a few minutes halt, the train started.
When the train gathered speed, the scene inside one of the bogies changed suddenly. Few young people(I do not know, whether they had their faces covered), took their pistols out and asked everyone to take out their belongings. Money, jewelry, watches, anything valuable was to be presented to them. Delay in response from the passengers resulted in harassment and beating. As people started to take out their hard earned money, their small ear rings, nose rings, necklaces etc, one of the young boys with a pistol noticed a lady sitting in the corner. She was newly wed, he told himself. She was pretty, he thought. He needed more than just her jewelry. He needed her. He needed her body. He started molesting her. Her meek husband, seating beside her, was kept shut by a slap and a pointed gun.
"Paise to aap logon ne le hi liya hai, kam se kam uski izzat to rehne dijiye", said Dr Arvind, unable to keep silent with the scene unfolding in front of him. He said politely, hoping that the inner goodness in men will win over the pointed gun. He was wrong. No more words were said. Neither by the young man nor by the Doctor. The pistol spoke. Twice. Two shots in his stomach. He fell down from his seat. He clutched his stomach, trying to prevent the flow of blood. Being a doctor himself, he knew that loss of blood will kill him, more than the wound caused within by the two bullets. As he fell down, panic crept inside the passengers. The young man who had shot froze for few seconds. But the guys with him pulled the man away from the scene. The other co-passengers all started running away from the bogie. As the train slowed down to stop at the next station, Nadaul, the bogie was empty. As the train stopped, the whole train was empty. He was still alive. Bleeding to his death.
I came home from school. As I entered, I saw Papa at home. Isn't he supposed to be at his office, I asked myself. 'Doctor Uncle nahi rahe, beta', Papa said answering the question in my mind. He had just returned from Shamshan Ghaat. And then he told me how it happened, as per the reports and a few eye witnesses. He was sad. The Doctor's wife, herself a doctor repeatedly said,'bas, agar mujhe samay par khabar ho jaati, to main unhe bacha leti'. Papa had lost a dear friend. He had been good to our family. Coming in god-forsaken hours to see us, if any of us were not doing well. We had lost a kind soul.
He was not a hero. He did not want to die. He knew that if he had been silent, he would have come home to see his wife and children. It would have been another day in his office from tomorrow. But, May be not. Once, you see a crime being done in front of you, you are not the same human being. Speaking your mind, standing up to something takes a lot of courage. Doubly so, when a pistol is pointed at you. And he stood up and spoke. Because, something more than money was at stake.
If I had been in that position, I do not know how I would have handled or behaved. May be, it is easy to say while sitting safely at home that I would have flung my arms and would have kicked their ass. It would have taken just one kick at their hands to remove their pistols and then I would have overpowered them with the help of the other people. Reality is different. Unless, you are facing the situation, you do not know how your mind would work. Whether I would have been able to overcome my fear to say something, do something, I do not know. Probably yes. We do not know what we are capable of. We do not know our own limitations. Under stress and adverse circumstances, sometimes, power and courage comes from within, which we do not know before that it even existed. We sometimes do things, which are beyond our capacity under normal cases. But, faced with a task, a problem, when we know, there is no other way out but to fight with dignity, to use all your mind, power and wit, sometimes, who knows..we may emerge victorious. As Premchand defined Courage(Sahas) as – ‘Bhay ki parakashtha ko hi sahas kehte hain’ (Courage is nothing but a fear beyond a border line).