Around Zion - a lonely cyclist


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Story of two strangers at Park St. Metro station

She was watching me for a long time. Don’t know if she was flirting or freaking the hell outta me (that’s a big contrasting thought, isn’t it?), but one thing is for sure, she’d wanted to say something to me but couldn’t, probably deciding whether she should. At last she probably had mastered the courage to do so, “Are you looking for something or someone in here? You have missed quite a few trains so far!” she smiled.

“No”, I said simply, “I am here for only one thing, I wanna kill myself today.”

Panic instantly struck her face, “What? What the hell are you talking about? W-wh-why. What, I mean, wh-why do you wanna kill yourself?” she started to stammer.

“It is my life; I can decide whatever I want, right? I have decided to end it. That’s why I’m here, metro station has always been loyal to suicide-seekers, isn’t it?”

“I think I better call the cops!”

“Don’t! I would simply deny everything, so it is you who will get into trouble for harassing them unnecessary. I don’t want anyone to suffer anymore, just because of me.”

“Ha! I get you; you are another heartbroken Romeo who think suicide is the best option to end all your life’s problems.”

“I think you don’t understand me. I am happy with my love life, I have a girlfriend who loves me so much and I love her too. It’s not what it seems to you.”

“Whoa! And you’d want to do this to your girlfriend? Can you even imagine how she will feel when she’ll find out what happened to you?”

“Life goes on. She’ll get over with it & find somebody better than me. Don’t give me those sentimental bullshit, I’ve listened to all those crap for a long time, it doesn’t make any difference to me. And why do you even care, you don’t even know me!”

“That’s not the issue here. I can’t think of a fellow human being ending his life, especially when he’s happy. It’s just pathetic. You can have only one life, you better make use of it and instead you’re thinking of ending it, even if you are happy in your life.”

“Who said I’m happy?”

“You said you have a steady girlfriend whom you love very much. That’s an apparent sign of being happy, don’t you think?”

“Let me think for a while, am I happy? Do you really think happiness can come from material satisfaction like a job, like a girlfriend or a wife, like having a fancy car and a steady household income, so that you can watch TV at home & catch the blockbuster Hindi film at INOX? How do you feel if all those you can do, you have the monetary gratification & yet it’s seems to you that you are not enjoying your life to the slightest – the only precious life of yours? How do you feel when you’re standing in the threshold of a new beginning in your life& just do nothing while watching the train of opportunity stops in front of you and moves away without you, like the trains in this station?” I smiled at her, while watching another metro passing away.

“Forget about the damn metro; I can’t watch you die, I don’t want you to die. It’s just so pathetic!”

“You’ve said that already. Probably you are also thinking that I’m some kind of psycho or suffering from some bad kind of psychological disorder or mentally unstable or something like that, don’t you?”

“Yes, obviously, that’s what a normal person would think, so, yes. But I don’t understand, when you’re saying all these things, it seems to me that you are perfectly normal, and then what’s wrong with you? You still didn’t give me an apparent valid reason to kill yourself. ”

“Well, 1st of all; let me tell you that I think I’m not suffering from any disorders as such. But then all sufferers would say this exact same thing, so I wouldn’t expect you to believe me. It doesn’t really matter if you believe or not. 2nd of all, I chose suicide ‘cos I feel my life is nowhere, I don’t feel that I’m doing something valuable to my life. In brief, my life sucks! So, there’s no point in paying taxes, doing the mundane things that I’m supposed to do; in short, spending on my life.” I feel that my life has lost it’s meaning, so in a way, it’s dead. I’m just finishing the rest of the work – since my mind is dead, there’s no reason for this body to exist. All worthless things meant for only one thing – deletion.”

I continued, “So, thanks for talking to me. I am now to finish my purpose. Don’t try to stop me, there’s no purpose served.”

“You know what?” She replied in a tired, droned voice, “I’ll not try to stop you from killing yourself. Probably you have the reason to do so, even when to the outer world you seem to be enjoying your life. But I can’t watch that, so let me go away & then do whatever you needed to do. But I must thank you; you have given me a new life.”

Now it’s me who was surprised. “What do you mean?”

She smiled sadly, “it might seem ironic to you, but actually I was here for the same reason as you!” Then she added, “Obviously your course of action I meant and NOT the reason behind do so. My love life had been a disaster & just the same usual things that always made people to think differently, you know. I will not bore you with my so-obvious story. But now I have changed my mind.”

“You did?”

“Yes, it seemed to me that I’m the unhappiest person in the whole world, how silly of me! Here I am, in the metro station, trying to end my apparent horrible life, where I met a person who is 100 times happier than me is thinking of the same thing because of some philosophical or psychological issue related to life. And I thought I was being justified in what I was going to do. Thank God, I didn’t. I have heard some extremes of justification in these 20 minutes and now I think we all have our own reasons to be unhappy. We all think that the grass is greener on the other side of the river. So what’s the point of ending my life when I see a person like you who is much happier than me seems to think just the opposite? Where this variety of angle of vision is leading us? You go ahead, pal, my best of luck to you in this last game of yours!” She rides on the incoming train. I tried to find her in the crowded compartment of the metro, but couldn’t. In a minute the train was gone. I just saved someone’s life but that has cost me one thing – my imminent death!

I stood still in that almost deserted metro station. Its 3PM in the afternoon on a Saturday, a few people were roaming around the station, waiting for the next train (at least I hoped so!). Nobody was paying any attention to the humble conversation between two people who were standing in the threshold their death. A person commits suicide in a metro station, all the passerby will be watching the gruesome scene with utmost interest, but probably nobody has succeeded stopping them beforehand; probably nobody has anticipated what that person is going to do in the next minute. I don’t know how I have anticipated it, probably because I was going to do the same. Before I end my life, I wanted to save at least one life. Maybe I won’t meet her again in my life, but she gave me a new horizon – why should I die when I have gave someone a new life? Life is always uncertain, this is the thing which keeps us alive, be it happiness or sorrow – everything is uncertain. That doesn’t justify ending this uncertainty, and thus life!
I looked at my cell phone. Three missed calls from the same number! I dialed the number and got engaged myself again while waiting for the next metro.

Little did I know that somewhere far in the running metro, she was also thinking about the same thing, “I hope I have saved his life. I have seen his face when I got into the train. Now I’m pretty sure that I will not find any news of suicide in tomorrow’s newspaper, remotely related to that guy!”

Sometimes in life’s path we meet some people, who we may not be seeing again but who give us inspiration in a way we might not even have dreamt about. Two people in the Park St. metro station have realized that today. Somewhere down the line all of us might realize that.

Who knows?

P.S: This is a problem faced by Metro stations all over the world.There are two methods available in foreign metro stations :
1) Platform screen doors at train or subway stations screen the platform from the train. This is the most effective way to prevent suicides.
2) Automatic platform gates are chest-height sliding doors at the edge of railway platforms to prevent passengers from falling off the platform edge onto the railway tracks. Like full-height platform screen doors, these platform gates slide open or close simultaneously with the train doors. As compared to platform screen doors, these half-height platform gates are relatively cheaper to install as they require less metallic framework for support. As such, some railway operators may prefer such an option to improve safety at railway platforms and, at the same time, keeping costs low and non-air-conditioned platforms naturally-ventilated. These gates, however, are less effective, as compared to platform screen doors, in preventing people from jumping onto the tracks.

Maybe someday this kind of safety precautions will be implemeted in India.

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