Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Determined Father

A very peculiar scene disrupted some of my notions about human behaviour. I had just got off the train and was heading towards the exit stairs, when I saw a man, his wife, and his girl (around ten or twelve) rush towards the train that would start again in a few seconds. The wife and the girl were lagging behind, and the man had focused his attention towards the train rather than towards them, and once he approached the train, he was goading his females to hurry. The train had already started as the wife and the daughter reached it; the man seemed rather ill-bent upon making them board the train. In what seemed a dangerous move, he and his wife caught hold of their daughter and started running along with the train. They managed to shove the kid inside (who was of no trivial size), then somehow the wife boarded the running train (the husband pushed her in by her buttocks), and as the husband made to dive in, the train had already sped beyond his ability. At this point, stunned onlookers, unanimously rooted to spot, saw him wave his hand in a gesture that read “oh, that was bound to go.” He seemed to be all smiles after this incident, and managed to efficaciously evade the demanding looks of the frustrated onlookers.

There were many things that could have struck the confused minds of the bystanders, perhaps many did strike them. The man could have fed his daughter, his wife or himself to the unforgiving wheels of the train, given the distance between the platform and the train-floor, could have sent his daughter alone, unaccompanied if he failed to make his wife board, and he certainly did set a bad precedent for his daughter (which may not be altogether unsuccessful if she gauges how wrong a thing to do it was). The possibilities for the onlookers also seemed bleak: had they tried to intervene, it might have back-fired, so not only would the accidents take place, but their moral responsibility would be theirs too. So it seemed as if the gore was consigned to take place, and the people around were condemned to watch. Only the rear-guard of the train admonished the man who otherwise escaped unquestioned.


  1. I recall an incident where a man, similar to the one you mentioned, (with his extended family this time) got the ladies- his wife, and sister- and the children to board a Ladies' FC compartment; as the train was departing the platform. This particular gentleman, however, decided against boarding the FC himself and ran towards the Second Class compartment.
    The train left, and his relatives weren't sure if he'd gotten onto the train or not, and even feared for the worst. Luckily, he made it (in many cases they don't; we read about them in papers), and once other commuters informed his wife and children of his daring, albeit near-fatal stunt, they seemed to be able to calm their shivering hands and sky-rocketing pulses.
    The world is indeed filled with fools who tend to show over-ambition where it is least required. Call me judgemental, but such acts can only be described as foolish...and perhaps, dangerous.

  2. Thanks for the comment. What interested me more than the foolishness was that this incident showed that it is dangerous to set ourselves to ideas too hastily, which applies to any other aspect of our life. The only alternative we have to such impulsive foolishness is calm and slowly-driven thinking.

  3. Btw, this thing about judgmental-tendency. Even if somebody decides he must not 'judge' a person, he is at least judging the situation in some way, if not the person and his act. For example, if I refuse to comment on this incident, I am implying that it has no significance or that I can learn nothing from it. People just think (in some cases plausibly) that there is a fence and they can sit on it, but mostly even that fence is some definite assertion.