That day Anindita was a bit pissed off with lots of things. She wasn't her usual self. She was quieter than usual and wasn't in the mood to be her usual nicer self. So, she preferred to stay aloof and quiet. She did not feel like enjoying her Balia express company. And she knew she would land up in some trouble if she did not keep herself aloof.
As she boarded the train, she walked up to the end of the compartment and stood there by the door. At the ticket examiner's seat sat an old man with a little bundle tied up into a dirty white cloth. She looked at him once. He shivered now and then. It wasn't cold in April and so Anindita thought maybe it was old age. She looked out of the door. She always loved standing at the door. The wind whizzed past, hurting the eyes, forcing them to close. It was fun. She did not lean out but leaned back on the door. On the floor beside her, two men sat, a little less older than the man on the ticket examiner's seat, but nevertheless, old. She did not pay much attention. She continued to look outside and feel the wind on her face. It helped her soothe her uneasiness.
The train sped by on schedule. A middle-aged man arrived into the compartment. Most probably he had boarded at Chittaranjan into some other compartment and walked into this one. He saw the old man on the seat and said to him, "Babaji.. go and sit there." and he pointed at the floor beside the other men. The old man looked at him in meek silence and the man ordered again, "Kya hua Baba? Get up and sit there."
The old man clasped his bundle with his wrinkled hands and staggered to the floor beside the others. Anindita hated the middle-aged man. She glared at him for a moment but he didnt look at her. So, she looked away in disgust. After all what could she do alone? She was a girl and she had always been advised by friends and family to keep shut however tempting it might it was to speak back against wrongs. So, she stared out of the door, with a grumpy face, irritated of all shitty and crude things about life. She stood there thinking of what all things she would have said to that man if at all she did say anything to him. Then she thought, there was no harm in saying a sentence or two. She would not fight. She would just tell him that what he did was wrong and he shouldn't have made that old staggering man to get up off the seat. Then she changed her mind. It would be of no use. He wouldn't listen. So she gave up the idea.
Few more minutes passed. The train moved cutting through the air. Anindita stared outside. It was getting darker. The sky was graying though there still was light, but the earth bore only dark silhouettes. Anindita turned to the middle aged man and said, "Didn't you feel bad making that old man sit there on the floor?"
The man was a bit surprised. He stammered for a moment, unable to say anything. He looked at Anindita and then at the old man and then back at Anindita. Finally he said, "This seat is for Railway employees. It is not for that old man."
Anindita said, "It is for the TTE. It is not for you either. In that case I can ask you to get up and allow me to sit. Should I do that?"
"I am a rail employee. I am entitled to travel a bit more comfortably. I work at Chittaranjan Locomotive works. I work for all the passengers and they should be a little more considerate about letting me travel in some comfort."
Anindita wondered what was she doing. She was actually creating a scene. She had a sudden urge to stop and walk away. But she was into it and she couldn't just leave. She replied back. "You don't work for the people. You work because you are paid. And forget about all that. This man is so old he cannot even stand properly. It never occurred to you that you should have even a little bit of moral sense in you. Three older men and a lady is standing in front of you and look at you, you are sitting there and arguing !"
Anindita knew she was getting irritated. But she knew how to keep her calm. She looked calm and firm but on the inside she felt like slapping the man hard. She already had a bad day all through and now this. A few men, who had been close by, gathered and took her side. They argued with the man and tried convincing him to at least share the seat with the old man if not leave it for him. He wouldn't listen.