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The Beacon Of Light In The Metro Ride

July 28, 2014 | By

A regular metro ride becomes an eye-opener when an African family gives the writer a glimpse into the oneness of humankind.

With a beaming face and a chuckle on the lips he sits by me. He is accompanied by his wife and look-alike twin boys. The couple must be around thirty and are wearing jeans and printed T- shirts. The man has also a Nike cap on his head. Both look slightly overweight but agile. The agility is expressed by their movement. By the looks, they seem sober and decent.

Delhi Metro ride is quite comfortable and I enjoy it.  (Pic: Prabhatkaushik, Creative Commons 3.0)

Delhi Metro ride is quite comfortable and I enjoy it.
(Pic: Prabhatkaushik, Creative Commons 3.0)

The bubbly children are charming with shining eyes. Their dark complexion make them seem to be of African ethnicity and lineage. I am a daily commuter by metro between Huda City Centre and Rajeev Chowk, to and fro.  Almost one hour ride on one side. The route is partly elevated and mostly underground. The Delhi Metro ride is quite comfortable and I enjoy it. The  stunning range of passengers of different age groups – regular, casual, office goers, students, multi- lingual , multi-national, multi-cultural, in substantial numbers. They gush in and out of the over-crowded stations.

Erratic flow of hectic people engaged in desperate rat-race. Most senior passengers look tired and haggard, and seem exhausted. The young commuters with or without headphones are brisk and jovial, enjoying life. I gauge the cognitive plane of this cross section of commuters by their look, postures and movement.

It is just break of the monsoon. A little relief from sticky and stuffy weather. On my way back I board at Rajeev Chowk. Not so crowded. The train starts, stops and moves again for the next station. I start a video game in my tab. In the metro, I usually use this to reduce my journey drudgery. Now I am engrossed and about to crack at a vulnerable point in the game. Right at that moment the African family boards the train hastily and occupies the seats next to me at the Jor Bagh metro station.

Of late, the flow of people from African countries has increased. They are mainly students, in medical colleges, engineering colleges, management institutions. Often we come across people from Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya etc. in public places like malls, multiplexes, metro stations and airports. Many of them are also settled in this country.

The  train  moves steadily but the father of the twins is a little embarrassed because of his most restless kids. They are jumping, jostling and screaming. The parents fail to tackle and control the twins. They seem to  feel shy and sorry for their incorrigible sons, especially in the public transport. I am, however, amused at the indomitable vivacity of the twins.

I am not garrulous but not reticent as well, so I get provoked from within to open up for some exchanges with them.

To pacify their uneasiness I ask the father, “Twins?”
Father, “Yes.”
“You see gentleman, for twins it’s normal. Don’t feel embarrassed. My niece has twin children. So I do have some experience about their behavioral pattern and actions,” I continue.
Father, “Kiddi’g , or true?”
“True”

I switch over to some general interactions, “From Nigeria?”
Father, “Right! How do you guess?”
“Just guessed! From Lagos?”
“No, from a country side very close to Lagos. Do you know Lagos? Have you ev’r been there?”
“No. My classmate Dawdoo, in the engineering college was from Lagos. Since then I knew about the city… However, did you follow the World Cup? I was really moved by Nigeria’s performance. It was splendid. It was laudable indeed!”
“As a Nigerian I also feel proud!”

The twins again spring up with their usual actions after spending some time on games on the mobile phone under their mother’s strict gaze.

The numbers of commuters starts thinning.

One thing strikes my ear. The twins call their parents not as Mom/Mamma and Dad, neither do they use Nigerian words. They address them as Papa and Mummy, as the majority of Indian children call their parents. This is truly baffling to me!

Unable to restrain my curiosity, I ask the father, “May I know, for how many years you’re in India?”
“Sir, we stepped into this country with my sons when they were only eight months old. We are gonna celebrate their eighth birthday next December. Now you count.”
“So you’ve been living in India for a pretty long period!”
Father, “Our sons are pursuing their studies in a non-convent CBSE  school. We love and revere India and Indian culture. During this period only once we went to Nigeria when my mother died. My father had died before we came to India. You know, my father was a great personality. He had been to many overseas countries, although the countries he went to were under British subjugation. But my father  loved these countries and their people. He often taught to love and respect the country where we live in and their people whom we live with.”

I find him a bit emotional.

I remark, “Your father was a noble man!”

Silence prevails for couple of minutes. The train leaves another station.

I begin, “Your destination?”
Father, “Iffco Chowk. We live in a flat there in DLF-4. What about you , sir?”
“Next to your station, Huda City Centre, the terminal station.”

As the rush of the commuters gets thinner the twins become more restive with more space around. But they don’t bother the fellow passengers at all. I find them quite cautious about it.

In order to get introduced with the boys  I pat both and ask, “Please tell me your names.”

Both of them respond instantaneously.

First boy, “I’m Bharat.”
Second boy, “I’m Rahim.”
I cannot help but ask, “Please tell me the names of your parents.”
Bharat, “Our father is Abraham.”
Rahim, “Our mother is Sanghamitra. It’s her new name. Papa chose the name and Mummy is happy with it.”

Rahim-Bharat-Sanghamitra-Abraham…

The names get jumbled, I get confused.

I turn to Abraham, “What’s your religion, Sir?”
Abraham, “Humanism.”

I am stupefied.

I see the four of them, radiating and glowing!

Their destination is approaching. I stretch out my hand to Rahim and Bharat and say ‘good bye’.

They do not come forward, instead they look at their parents.

After a few moments, to my utter surprise Rahim and Bharat come close to me, touch my feet and most humbly say, ‘Pronaam!’

My words fail to express the grand canvas of impeccable realization and introspection coupled with a grand bliss and joy I have derived in a forty five minute ride of the Metro.

I shall protect this priceless memory. I take a deep long breath and watch with reverence as the family, a beacon of light steps down from the train.

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Tapan Dasgupta, a business associate caters to corporate brand promotion and scribbles at pastime to shape out literary forms.
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