It was just another day; I was going to college, and as usual, I caught a train from Elphinstone Road to Sion. Hardly had I settled in my seat, than two women ticket checker’s came, and started asking everyone to show his or her ticket or season pass. I removed my pass and showed it to one of them; she checked and went to the lady sitting next to me. The lady showed her ticket, as well as of her companion, who was seated opposite to me, to the TC. Both the women were married, I’m sure of that, because of the noticeable stamp for married Indian women, ‘mangalsutra and sindoor’; also, they looked young. The TC examined the ticket for longer than normal, and then called her fellow colleague. They both said something to each other, and one of them asked something to the lady next to me. I couldn’t comprehend with what was going on, as I had ear phones plugged in my ears; I removed them and heard one of the TC say, “Your tickets are from Dadar, and you got in the train from Elpistone Road.” In Marathi.
Dadar station came after Elphinstone Road station. The women sitting beside, and opposite to me were at fault. They were liable to pay a fine for this fault. The woman seated beside me said (in Marathi), “Ma’am I don’t know my husband bought it, and gave it to us.” One of the TC said, “aren’t you literate? can’t you read what’s written on the ticket?” “No ma’am we don’t know to read and write.” The woman said. I was taken aback at that reply. Illiterate in this generation, was I dreaming? “Where is your husband? Is he in the general compartment of this train?” The TC asked. “No ma’am he gave us the tickets and told us to get off at Thane.” The woman replied. “Okay, so see women, you have a ticket from Dadar and you got into the train from Elphinstone Road, so now you both got to pay a fine of Rs. 100 each.” The TC said. “Ma’am, please forgive us, we didn’t know. We wouldn’t have ever gotten had we known about this mistake of my husband’s. Please leave us.” The woman pleaded. “Call your husband. You must be having phones, or at least his cell number.” The TC said. “No ma’am we don’t have cell phones. This is my husband’s number.” The woman showed the telephone diary to the TC. The TC tried but the number was unreachable. After several attempts, “Sorry I can’t help you; you will have to pay the fine.” The TC remained adamant. “Ma’am we don’t have this much money.” The woman pleaded. “Ha-ha the same old reason.” One of the TC said to her colleague, and they both laughed. “There will be, check your purse and your bag.” The TC said. Then both the women removed whatever cash they had. In all they had just 100 bugs. “Check your bag properly; I’m sure you’ll get more.” The TC said. “Both the women searched, but only found few coins.”Has your searching completed? No we’ll start.” The TC said and started emptying their bags. Everyone’s attention was drawn by then. Both the TC’s ruthlessly checked their bags, opened their lunch boxes, and purses. The women were nearly on the verge of crying. After the TC’s completed the callous search, they turned towards the women, and one of the TC said, “Get up, both of you.” They did, as they were told. Both the TC’s then started examining the bodies of the two women. The women had worn saris. The TC’s searched in their blouses they had worn, and everywhere else. It was a ghastly sight. Both the women had started crying by then. My station was nearing; I got up and went towards the door. “Ma’am, please leave us. We don’t have more money.” Both the women cried. I couldn’t put up with it any longer, I went up to the TC and said (in Hindi), “Here the remaining hundred bugs.” The TC took it, and without showing any concern, left the two women. The women thanked me and asked me for my number, to return the money. I said, “Buy books from that money, and educate yourselves.” and got off the train.
I am not sure what I did was right or wrong. I did that for my own selfish means; I couldn’t tolerate the weeping of those women. Initially I was disgusted at those both ticket checkers, but introspecting now, I realize that they were not wrong. They were just doing their duties; maybe it was a little harsh, yet one cannot blame them. Then whose fault it was? The woman’s husband, maybe, still, you can’t be sure. We just know half the truth, and half-truth is worse than a lie. After contemplating over this, I can deduce one thing for sure that, I don’t about others, but both the women, the victims, were certainly at fault. Their fault was that they were illiterate. Whatever the circumstances, they should have fought it, and should have educated themselves. Perhaps, they will realize this after the incident, that left them mortified. As for me, I’m no rich kid, and nor have I started earning yet. Hence, 100 bugs is a fairly big sum for me, which I’ll try to recover by walking a few distances than taking a public transport, and in that way maybe I’ll lose some kilos (I can be optimistic at times). I do not why, but I can’t take pride in what I did. My earnest plea to all who are reading this is, please spread the importance, moreover the shortcomings of not being literate.It’s the desperate need of the hour!