A short Story
The young mother entered the sparingly crowded train compartment with her infant daughter. The trains are less crowded in the afternoons and she choose to travel at that time. She was like all the other mothers in the world, protective, very much protective. Her daughter, the apple of her eye watched the world with her tiny eyes. The young mother stood near the door and watched the world go by, excitedly pointing to the trees and buildings. How much the little one understood was anybody’s guess.
The crowd in the compartment was engrossed in itself, everyone lost in their own thoughts. Some of the ladies were watching the mother-daughter lost in their own world. Some times happiness can come so easily.
Everyone was busy with doing nothing when suddenly small sobs could be heard. The little infant, the little girl was crying. The young mother was trying to calm her down but the sobs were getting louder. She looked apologetically at everyone and started to calm her little princess. The little princess was threatening to become the little devil. She started cajoling her to stay quite but nothing was able to calm her. The sound of the baby crying was reaching high pitch now. It was really surprising that a being of such a small stature was capable of such noise.
The young mother was getting more embarrassed on her inability to calm the child. The co-passengers looked irritatingly at the mother. There were whispers among themselves. A compartment which was quite a few minutes ago was ripe with talks about how the mother cannot even take care of her child. Some even started offering her advice. Others choose to comment how the child was disturbing them and she needs to do something about it.
The child meanwhile was feeling more and more restless. The train was approaching another station. The mother was trying her best to calm the child. She was thinking of getting off at the next station and then taking another train after calming the child. But then she would be late for her destination and who could predict if the next train would be full or not. She started moving the baby around to calm her.
The train stopped at the station. Some people got off and more joined in. A group of teenage boys decided to stand near the door causing discomfort to the other passengers. As the train was about to move, a tall dark figure entered through the door. The man was tall, heavy and old but looked quite strong enough. The number of wrinkles on his face gave a proof of his old age but his huge body refused to stand guarantee for it. The cut on his chin was the result of a knife cut or from trembling hands trying to shave was not something anybody would have wanted to ask him. His wrinkled face spotted a grim look, a serious look and a kind of ‘don’t-you-dare-mess-with-me’ attitude. The boys standing near the door decided it was safe to be inside the compartment rather than be in the path of the giant. He was not angry but surely no body would have wanted him to be angry.
The child was crying at all his glory. The mother was desperately trying to make her quite but it was a losing battle. The old man looked at her. She felt the same fear others had felt. The man was so intimidating that she turned away. Monster, she thought. Some people can look so dangerous that they don’t even need to be dangerous. Her daughter’s head resting on her shoulder, the poor child crying her heart outs. She was gently taping her back to make her sleep. Her only hope was that the poor child would tire herself to sleep.
Suddenly the crying stopped as suddenly it had started. The young mother heaved a sigh of relief. The poor child was finally tired and gone to sleep. But then she heard a giggle. She could recognize the faint giggle anywhere. She brought the face of her child in front of her and indeed there was a smile on her face. But the child was not looking at her. She was looking beyond her mother. The young mother turned around to look at the face of a smiling monster. The face which looked as intimidating a few moment back looked so innocent now.
“She is just a little nervous, I guess” The man spoke. The voice was gentle and fatherly. It seems that the man had been a father, is a father and a good one.
The young mother smiled. Her daughter smiled at the old man. The wrinkles on his face which looked scary earlier now seemed so comforting. The young mother realized that she had to get down at the next stop. As the train stopped at the station, she got down while a new set of people entered the compartment. Everybody avoided the giant. The man stood near the door watching the young mother and her infant daughter. He made sure they got out safely without the crowd pushing them.
The train started to move toward the next destination. The man looked at the young woman and her daughter. The woman turned, looked around and smiled at the man. She nodded her head in silent thanks. The man smiled back.
This monster had a heart after all!
Note: Loosely based on a true incident