Photo: Illustrated by Viki
"I was convinced once again that, contrary to popular opinion, young people can often be far, far nobler than many older ones."
Travelling by the West Coast Express to Mangalore two years ago, Berth No. 55, not far from me, was occupied by a middle-aged gentleman. When the train reached Palakkad Junction around 9pm, a large group of pilgrims entered amid much commotion. Just then another middle-aged man from among the pilgrims started claiming Berth 55. He even had a paper given by his travel agent to bolster his claim.
The ticket examiner arrived and told the second man that it was not his berth. “No,” said both men. “It’s mine.” A constable from the Railway Protection Force tried to get the second man to leave. But he wouldn’t give in—and he had the support of his many pilgrim friends.
High-pitched arguments continued, even long after the train left Palakkad. Then someone even pulled the emergency chain as we were leaving Tirur station, four stops after Palakkad. Nobody could sleep and it was getting late.
Suddenly, around midnight, I watched as a teenager, a student I am sure, clambered down from an upper berth close to me.
“Please take my berth,” he told the second man, who accepted it after a bit of hesitation.
To my great surprise, the student then spread a newspaper on the floor and was soon lost in deep, peaceful sleep. By now everybody was quiet, as if nothing had happened! I’m a 58-year-old biology teacher who has handled two generations of students. I was convinced once again that, contrary to popular opinion, young people can often be far, far nobler than many older ones.
Francis Xavier, Yercaud, TN
Nick of Time
I had only finished school when my father died suddenly. It was October 1962, and college was now out of the question. So I found myself in a clerical job, even a decade later. In 1971, my employer, a private company, announced that only graduates would get promotions to officer cadre. By then, married and with two children, my job seemed at a dead-end—unless I studied further. And to graduate, I had first to pass the higher secondary examination.
I filled out the admissions form, placed it in the front basket of my Vespa scooter and rode to the CBSE correspondence course office on Alipur Road, New Delhi. On reaching there, I was shocked—I could not find the form. It was the last day for submissions, and no blank forms were available at the office.
I was standing there, disappointed and confused when an elderly gentleman asked me why I looked so troubled. I told him what happened, adding, “Now I’ll have to wait another year.”
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