In the morning of Ganesh Chaturthi, I boarded the train from Jodhpur to Jaipur. There was so much rush that I had to struggle to even get into the train (leave alone finding a seat).
Seeing this, I had even thought of skipping this train and going for the next one. But who knows if the next train will not be this much crowded (considering the world-famous Ramdevra Mela running this week)?
“It’s just 5 hours of travel. I can rest after reaching Jaipur,” I gave myself some false hopes. (Jhuthi shi… magar tasalli to dila de…).
So, I had made a couple of adjustments in finding the most comfortable space for standing, which was literally the second-worst experience if I talk about travelling by train.
After 2 hours
After two stations, a man boarded the train with a girl of my age. The man started to look for a seat, which made me smile sarcastically. There were already 12-13 people in the block where he was asking for a seat. Undoubtedly, it was impossible for him to find even an adjustment. But in the next moment, I saw that the man wasn’t asking for a seat, but was requesting for it.
“My daughter is not well. Please let her sit. I don’t want the seat for me,” he pleaded.
I was standing there and suddenly started looking around to find some adjustment for him. In the block next to me, nine women were sitting comfortably (4 on one and 5 on another seat). If you travel in Indian trains, you know that it’s very easy for 5 people to sit on a seat of 4 (unless you sit cross-legged).
I signalled the uncle to try this side. These are women and might understand the situation of the girl better, I thought.
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“Can you please adjust a little so that she can sit here?” he said signaling towards his daughter. “She is ill, and we are going to Jaipur for her checkup only.”
One could easily sense from the girl’s body language that she was ill and couldn’t bear to stand even for ten minutes. But the ladies sitting there clearly refused to adjust.
“It’s a seat for four people and we are sitting four only. Why don’t you check the next blocks?” said the lady sitting near the window.
Even a blind cat would know that if there was a vacant seat, the train wouldn’t be packed with people standing on their foot.
The man started to make her understand that he wasn’t looking for the seat for himself, but her daughter who wasn’t able to stand. But none of the ladies moved or thought for a second to make some adjustments for her.
I was already frustrated with the rush and standing for the last two hours. And this was making my brain go crazy.
“What’s the problem with you, aunty? Five to six people are sitting on every seat. None of us asked you to adjust, but can’t you see this? It’s just a matter of a couple of hours,” I said in a louder and angry tone. It’s only the second time that I was literally shouting in a train.
The lady started arguing with no intention to let the girl sit there.
“Uncle, please bring her here,” a guy who was sitting on the corner at the next block said. He gave up on his seat and let the girl sit there.
End of story.
But what’s the moral?
No matter how much you blame men for thousands of things, but they are the ones to give up on their seats in such situations. You might blame men for not giving up their seats in certain instances, but you will never see that there was also a woman or two who could do the same (but didn’t).
Maybe men instantly notice girls with big breasts, but they are also the ones who instantly notice a pregnant stomach.
In trains or buses, when men are sitting, they have a lesser interest in the people standing around them, unless there is an ill person, pregnant lady, or old man or woman.
Please don’t talk about women empowerment and equality if you can’t even adjust for women, leave alone standing up.
PS– I’m in complete favour of women empowerment and equality. I felt proud when Hima Das brought us gold. I felt proud while reading Mary Kom’s autobiography.
I’m just not in favour of women who believe in “Sitters gonna sit. Haters gonna hate.”