It was one lazy morning in the middle of the week last week when i was travelling to my office in a train. The train was relatively empty and people were lazying around, some reading newspaper, some chitchatting with their travel partners, while some listening to music on their mobile headphones, some were simply lost in their own world, while still some others were deep in their lumber. Overall it was a silent morning and nothing was happening.. till about half an hour.
As the train reached Vikhroli station, an old man, who seemed to be nearing his retirement, standing in the passage, picked up his mobile phone, and in loud voice called, it seems it was railways control room, he identified himself as Mr.Kulkarni, a engine driver of a long distance train. He explained to the gentlemen on the otherside of the phone that his train had just hit a man walking on the tracks and talking on mobile phone somewhere near Kasara Section. He gave all the technical details as to the kmph at which his train was running, the number of level crossing etc. After talking for about ten to fifteen minutes, the man became sentimental and urged the person on the other side that he was not guilty and he should not be punished for the accident. He then disconnected the call.
By this time the entire compartment had overheard this conversation, and animatedly started inquiring about the accident and Mr.Kulkarni kept on explaining to everyone there. People sympathized with the person dead, some even sided with the engine driver and passed the judgement that he was not wrong. The atmosphere in the train became more sombre but it looked as a happening event. Do we delight even in death ?
I was however, not amused, by the story of Mr. Kulkarni, for i have heard Mr.Kulkarni, making the same call and passing on the same details around four five months before, somewhere between Kalyan and Kasara then. From his behaviour, on close observation for the second time, i came to conclusion that the person was mentally disturbed. He must have been a train driver and must have over run somebody resulting to death and that shock must have surely resulted in this man’s losing his mental balance. The way he was pleading on phone to the other person made me feel that this man must have been through some rough time in his career.
All and all, i felt bad and sad for this man, who was actually mentally disturbed, but the people around him could not judge that and took his phone conversation for real. Some years back, i read that around 30-40% of motorman and engine drivers lose their mental balance as they end up killing or injuring about 100 people and animals in their career. Seeing people die in front of their eyes must surely be the most shocking scene for these poor people.
And what do we, train travellers do, for every stop the train takes at a signal, we end up cursing the hapless motorman, who has just nothing in his control…
An Accident changed the life of Mr.Kulkarni.. but this story too had a silver lining, the gentleman in him spread the message across the compartment (and many more) about risks of waling on railway tracks and talking over mobile phones while walking…