I just watched

I was waiting for Vandana and Prashasti at ticket counter of the Andheri (E) station. Mumbai is extremely warm these days, so I went in search of a fan to stand under. I found one, but the place under it was occupied.

By a dog.

Now, I have to describe this dog. It looked like on of the normal mongrels. Not too discoloured or anything. Looked pretty young. And it was lying on its back. Yeah, sure, dogs aren’t supposed to do that, but this one did it pretty well. In the middle of its sleep, it woke up, and tried scratching itself. Poor thing must’ve felt itchy all over, so it ended up trying to bite its paw several times over, and not always succeeding.

I didn’t budge. I just watched.

While I was watching all this, this fairly well-dressed guy of about 25 had just bought his ticket, and was walking towards me. He noticed me, and noticed me looking at the dog. He walked pretty close to the dog, and I thought he wanted to pet the dog. What he did, instead, this well-dressed guy, was to kick the dog instead. For no reason at all. And walked away.

I didn’t budge. I just watched.

Then this little girl of about 4 came along. Clothes in tatters, and probably hadn’t eaten in many hours. She stood near the dog. The dog tried scratching itself on her skirt and leg (still on its back, mind you.) She moved a bit back. The dog followed. Soon they were playing.

I didn’t budge. I just watched.

After a while, the little girl went over and joined her mother and (equally tiny) sisters. Someone else had just bought a ticket, and was rushing to catch the train. In his haste, he dropped a little red booklet. The little girl was closest to it, so she picked it up and opened it. If it had any money, I’d have been quite happy to see her take it. There wasn’t. It was just a red booklet. She took it to her mother, who looked at it, looked around for help, saw me looking, and asked the little girl to give it to me, and asked me if I could return it.

I don’t think that well-dressed guy would’ve asked me to return it.

The booklet seemed like a phone book of sorts, though it had some Hindi poetry too in it (romantic poetry, too!) and a workman’s pass. A phone number was listed. I called the number, explained to the person that I had this pass, and said that I’d leave it with the station master at Andheri, and that the owner could pick it up.

It didn’t work out that way. I couldn’t find the station master. I don’t know if these stations even have one. So I just left, figuring I’d return it the next day. Didn’t happen. That week, I had to leave for Delhi. Now that I’m back, I still haven’t returned it.

As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t budge. I just watched.