The Green Flag  

Posted by Praveen in

It was one of those railway stations where very few people came. And where only one of those odd trains stopped. One of those unremarkable stations with broken benches and the worn down office of the station master. For 40 years, I waved the green flag here. It was like a ritual. Looking at the timetable and then strolling out from the office to the platform with the green flag. Its a ritual nobody other than me cared about. Once in a while a curious kid points at me from the second class compartment and says something to his father. At other times, some old man just stares at me from the window, sometimes adjusting his glass to get the focus right. These are the only attention I've got in this lonely job. Sometimes, hapless wanderers do come in from far away places, with thirsty eyes and hungry stomachs. And it has been a part of my duty to give them something to eat and provide them shelter until they are good to wander again.

Now, 30 years since I last waved the flag, as I sit alone here, as an antique piece held up by worn down bones and displaying lines and cracks all over my face, I feel like one of those wanderers whom I gave shelter many years back. Though I could barely see even with my glasses, I could feel the changing colours of wheels inside the weighing machine falling on my eyes. Those olden days when my son Mihir made me take his weight on this machine every other day, came to my mind. There was a field of kans grass close to the station. Mihir used to run from our home through the fields as the trains passed, very much like that classic scene from 'Pather 'panchali'. Satyajit Ray must've been inspired from our little station and Mihir's run while he created that scene. In those days, I never once did have an idea that one day I'll be sitting at this very station like a useless furniture. This very station which once came to life only because of me. I haven't uttered a word in the last many years. I can hardly see. I can move only with other's help. But Mihir didn't seem to know that I had so much of life left in me when he left me here and went to the city with his family. He didn't seem to know that I still had a heart which loved him and his family. He didn't seem to know that my tears don't need anyone else's help to flow down. I could feel some currency that he left in my lap so that someone will take it and help me. If only that money could buy someone to put his hand around me and say, "I love you papa and I shall never leave you".

I could easily show the red flag to my life if I jump into the rails in my white shirt. But, as always I chose to live rather than bring poetic tragedy to this story. I fell asleep with the help of the cold winter winds. I couldn't do anything to stop the trembling and later got used to it. Someone's hand around me woke me up in the morning. I could hardly make out who it was. Still, I felt reassured. I tried feeling the face. The clues were not coming by. I was searching in the dark until he told me about a cold wintery night almost five decades back. One of those rare wanderers made his appearance in the station that day. A kid of about seven years. And as was my habit, I fed him and gave him shelter. He left after staying for few days in the office. It was just one of the many similar incidents in my life. But for him, it was one unforgettable incident. And that few plates of food meant more to him, much more than a lifetime of sacrifices meant for my Mihir. He held me up with his strong hands and led me carefully to the gates. I could hear the thud-thud of a train approaching. I almost raised up my right hand and waved the imaginary green flag.

your crusader Praveen

This entry was posted on Monday, March 22, 2010 at Monday, March 22, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

7 comments

Life's always chugging away......people come and go eventually! Sigh!

9:32 PM

I hate trains and railway stations..I always have..even when I was a kid. The only thing I liked about the station was the man in the white uniform with the red and green flags. I used to think that was the best job in the world, just sit in an office all day and wave coloured flags at odd trains :)

I used to put in coins at the weight machine not because I liked to weigh myself, but because of the colourful display wheels and the one-liners they used to print on the back of the little cards.

Well...I know this sooo doesn't make sense, just some thoughts that passed my mind when I read this... Nice one :)

11:23 PM

awesome! :-) dont know where u come up with these ideas!!

loved that railway metaphors thru the story!!

7:37 AM

Very well written!! and you have nicely potrayed the negligence of todays working-class towards there dependants(parents)! Pity on them; they dont help there parents , instead shell out money to Ashrams and NGOs in the name of social service!

9:36 AM

Good one ....

2:44 PM

nice one...:)

5:23 PM

@rakesh
and some ppl do stay!

@buttercup
It did make sense. And happy to note that you could connect with those story background

@ashwathy
thanks :)

@Jagannathan
thanks man...
yea true..but thats only a few in number I guess..most of them do care for their parents

@Jon
thnks:)

@vishwa
thnks :)

1:29 AM

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