Last few days were very hectic for me. I traversed across various cities and some villages of Jharkhand and Northern Bihar. Cloud Atlas once told that “Travel far enough, you meet yourself”. I am not sure that I met myself or not but I am pretty sure that, if we are receptive, travelling teaches us many lessons.
In my itinerary, the first leg was from Jamsehdpur to Capital of Jharkhand, Ranchi. One can reach Ranchi through various means such as Cabs, Buses or trains. I always give preference to the train over other mode of transportation provided that I have sufficient time. I was supposed to be accompanied by one of my friend on the whole journey, but when he heard that I will opt for train and that too a passenger train, whose average speed hovers around 30 kmph, he ditched me and preferred to travel via cab. I was also determined. I told him that I will meet him in Ranchi, from there onwards we will move towards in next destination together.
I get into the train in an early morning. Oh!!! Passenger Train!!! It reminded me all the contradictions of our country. Contradiction between rich and poor, rapidity and slowness, high class and low class, cleanliness and filthiness, comfort and uneasiness, talks of bullet trains when we are not even properly running the trains at the speed of 30kmph and many other contradictions were easily perceptible.
Our train was very humble. It stopped at every damn stoppage. It virtually had a halt where even 2-3 persons were standing on the platform. Probably it really meant that it will give service to the last person of the society as our leaders famously claim. As I told you our train was very humble, I did not mentioned it without reason. It gave the way to every other train which was on the same track, at one instance it was stopped so as to allow passing even a goods train!!!
Anyway, despite of all these, I truly enjoyed the trip. The surrounding besides the railways track from Jamshedpur to Ranchi is very natural and very serene. The railway track is flanked by many hills which is part of Ranchi plateau. There were some rivers, rivulets and when the train passed over it made the travelling very relaxing. The day was also cloudy and it made the travelling more pleasant. I virtually travelled by standing near the door and stepped out of the train at every single station.
Everything was smooth until the moment, when the train stopped at an uninhabited area or one can even call it a practical forest. A continuous shrill sound of honking from engine was coming. The continuity of the sound made some people think about the possible reason. Train was stopped there for more than 10 minutes. Everybody has their own interpretation of the stoppage of the train. But suddenly one gentleman’s interpretation changed the atmosphere of the coach entirely. He said “Jharkhand is a Maoist affected area, they might have sabotaged the track and might possibly carry loot in the train”. Now the whole coach became perturbed and so was I. On numerous occasions I have read the stories of sabotaging the railway tracks by maoist or naxalites, but if this was one, it will be a firsthand experience, which probably no body would like to have. Amidst all these, the shrill sound of honking was continuous.
I don’t know from where it came, I stepped down from the coach and moved towards the engine to see what was really the case! When I came near to the Engine, the driver of the train also stepped down. I asked the reason of the stoppage and he pointed his finger towards the railway track.
A calf was sitting on the railways track and despite the continuous honking, it remained unmoved. Then driver along with some other co-passenger tried to move the calf out of the way by freighting the calf with sticks, some even threw small pebbles on him but all efforts remained futile. I was the mute spectator when all these things were happening but my phone camera was making shuttering noise when I was clicking all these events.
Later it was discovered that the calf was injured and hence was unable to move out of the track. Later some people came upfront and collectively helped the calf to move out of the way. The rail coach driver was also among those.
When the calf was moved away from the track everyone was going towards their respective coaches. I went towards the railway driver and shook hand with him and told him “Thank You! You are very compassionate and kind person, only due to you the life of the calf saved today.”
But his response was quite unexpected. He smiled and said “Kindly delete all the pictures you have taken of this event. It is undesirable for me to stop the train without proper signal and it may cost my job. It is considered unethical in our profession”. When I was taking these pictures, I had in my mind that I will use these pictures to substantiate the whole incident of compassion, but as the driver requested me, I deleted all of them without reconsidering. I was happy. The driver smiled back. I was again on the door of the train. Suddenly it started raining, as it happens in any Bollywood movies after happy ending. Train was marching forwards just like a big snake in a forest.
The words of the driver “It is considered unethical in our profession” was reverberating in my mind. I thought, is it unethical to save the life of a dumb creature?
The train was in its peak speed and probably for the first time I got to understand the nuances of Ethics and Morality. The train driver was Morally Correct, but was he Ethically? Well I don’t know.