<<Read Part 1 here>>
The train on which Kamakshi was travelling finally made its way into the Cantonment Railway Station at around 3.25 PM, approximately 2 hrs delayed beyond its normal schedule. And when Kamakshi did get off from the train, she greeted her father quite warmly. While it was not as joyous and filmy and all hugs the way they showed in television ads and movies, it was also not as cold and impersonal as Ramanna had feared it would be. After the initial few greetings, when Ramanna introduced Lacho to her, Kamakshi was quite surprised that the transgender who was lingering around was actually a friend of her father’s and reacted as any other college-going girl her age was expected to. She just barely managed to come up with a smile and almost immediately pulled her father aside.
It didn’t take Lacho too long to figure out why Kamakshi was arguing with her father beyond her earshot. She had seen enough rejection and disgusted reactions at her from people throughout her life to know what the young girl was disturbed about. While it hurt her to see that even educated people treated her with so much disdain, she also loved and respected Ramanna enough to understand that her presence there might just end up opening up older wounds that Ramanna had finally managed to heal in the relationship with his daughter. Lacho therefore started walking towards Platform 2 where she would be far away from Ramanna and give him the time to reconcile with his daughter, who he was meeting after such a long time.
When Ramanna finally pacified his daughter and turned around to see if Lacho had heard the conversation he was having, he did not see her anywhere where she had earlier been. And the teeming crowds on the platform meant that he could not spot where she was at that point in time. He turned around to his daughter, who by now had cooled down to some extent given that the transgender had moved away, and asked her whether she would have something to eat to which she agreed. The two of them went over to the Rail Aahar stall and Ramanna ordered two masala dosas and two strong coffees. While they were waiting for the food to be given to them, they suddenly heard screams and a general commotion from Platform 2 almost exactly opposite where they were standing in the food stall.
On Platform 2, what had happened was nothing short of a miracle. In the rush to get into a moving train, a young couple who had arrived quite late to the station had been jogging beside the train. While the husband managed to hop into the train, the wife was struggling to keep up with the train, weighed down by her 4 month old infant daughter who she was carrying. While she managed to get her right hand on the iron bar next to the doors of the compartment, she could not find stable footing on the metal steps. She slipped and when she fell, she dropped her child down on the platform, who in turn slipped on to the tracks through the gap between the train and the platform.
Seeing all this happen in front of her and hearing the young mother scream out, Lacho without worrying about anything else jumped down onto the track using the same gap between the train and the platform at the exact spot where the infant had fallen down. The fact that she was frail, thin and undernourished meant that she fit quite comfortably in the gap and managed to hug the platform such that the train did not hurt her.
Lacho almost immediately spotted the little girl’s bright pink dress and managed to grab her and hugged her close to her chest. She then managed to turn herself around such that the infant was between her and the platform, with the train at her back. Lacho was shielding the infant from any injury that might occur due to the moving train.
Seeing this horrific scene unfurl in front of his eyes, Ramesh Gowda decided to do something to help out. He immediately brought out his red LED light and started flashing it intermittently in the direction of the engine of the moving train. This and the fact that the infant’s father had almost immediately pulled the emergency chain in the compartment, meant that the engine driver had to compulsorily stop the train.
By the time the train rolled to a stop, a small crowd had gathered around the spot where Lacho had jumped down so bravely and saved the infant. They first took the infant and handed it to the young mother who by now had almost fainted and was seated on the platform sobbing. They then pulled out Lacho who by now had a couple of small bruises on her back due to some of the metal steps of the train hitting her. The only thing that had saved her from grievous injuries was the fact that the train had not picked up sufficient speed and the engine driver had been able to stop it reasonably quickly as well.
When she was pulled out from the tracks on to the platform, the young father who by then had jumped out of the train and checked on his wife and kid came running up to Lacho and pressed a huge wad of notes into her hand. He clearly realized that if not for her intervention, he probably would have lost his child under the train on that day.
Giving a weak smile, Lacho returned the money to him and told him that she had not saved the little girl for the money. She told the father that Gowda Sir who by now was kneeling next to her was with the Railways and would ensure that her wounds would be treated well and that she would be back on her usual spot on Platform 2 in no time.
Hearing all this commotion from the other platform, when Kamakshi and Ramanna came running down the over bridge, they managed to see what had happened and also heard of Lacho’s bravery from Ramesh Gowda as well. Ramanna then turned around to his daughter who by now was in tears, ashamed at the way she had treated Lacho a few minutes ago.
After all, it was not everyday that one got to meet such a brave person who despite all the odds still managed to retain a smile and optimism that one day, all would be fine and life would be great.
This story was originally published in the Femina Fast Fiction page.