Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Theft in a Train

After eating fried rice, I went to sleep. The supper was so satisfactory that I didn’t have to wait long for sleep. Though some people complain about interrupted sleep in a train, I don’t do so. I sleep like a baby even in a moving train. The movement of a train gives me the feeling of a hammock, and the train noises don’t disturb me. For sleeping like this in a train, I paid penalty several times.

Once I failed to get off at the station of my destination. When I woke up, I found my compartment in a shed about half km away from the station. It happened at Rangia, Assam. Another time, all my belongings were stolen away when I remained sleeping.

Anyway, the theft happened in Saraighat Express—a fast moving train—from Guwahati to Howrah. The theft was both funny and dangerous. At midnight after the train had left Maldah, West Bengal, loud voices in the next coup woke me up. When I gave attention to the voices, I came to know about the theft.

The narrator was an Assamese young man of strong build. He was leading a team of artists to Raipur. I don’t know how many artists were there in his team. But in his coup, there were two young boys and three young girls. The girls were smarter than the boys—they went to toilet past my coup—and their cute dresses made them look cuter. From their (loud) conversation, I learned that they sang and danced. One of the girls was putting on weight; the other two were slim. When they discussed education and behaviour of teachers, I made sure that they read at a college. Their Assamese was the Assamese of the people who belong to Upper Assam. Had I been in their coup, I would’ve talked a lot to them. Assamese in a train out of Assam, like Assamese out of the State, make me feel so proud and happy.

The gang was comprised of five thieves. Like policemen, they wore uniform jackets. Shining their torches, they examined whether the passengers were sleeping. (I don’t know if they shone their torches on me either.) When they found the suitable man, they guardedly stood at his berth. One of them kept shining the torch straight on the sleeping man while the other became busy doing something, bending close to the man. The Assamese young man, who had already taken them for policemen, didn’t care to ask them anything. He just thought that they were just doing their routine duties.

But the actuality came to light when they got off by pulling the chain. They cut the sleeping man’s pocket and took away five thousand rupees, including his ID card and ticket—he was a Hindi-speaking sales representative in Shillong.

The Assamese young man and the victim went on loudly remembering the theft to each other and laughing off and on through the rest of the night, expressing regrets that they failed to catch them.

I still wonder why they saw only fun in that incident. Was that really funny? Anyway, only that night I failed to sleep well and made a resolve not to sleep in a train, like a baby in a hammock, anymore.