The Property of a Beggar

by K Jambulingam

I entered the S 9 compartment of the Super fast Intercity Express bound for

Coimbatore.The train was jam-packed with holiday crowds. My co passengers were college students .They were on study tour to 0oty. Every one of them had cell phone and the earphones were either plugged into their cell phones or I Pods.

0n several occasions while traveling in train I had come across different types of beggars. They are different from those at cross road signal and temple entrances. I have seen many women with infants in their arms begging at the cross road signals. When you travel in air-conditioned vehicles, they tap the door and when you open the window, you see these women. You tend to close the window by operating the automatic switch. When the glass pane goes up you hear the last words of abuse for not giving alms.

The train compartment beggars are different altogether. I am not exaggerating. Once I saw a young man was cleaning the rubbish thrown all over the floor by the passengers who threw all the wrappers of chocklates and left over foodstuff in plastic cover under their seats. When the cleaning was done to the entire satisfaction of the passengers, he asked for money. Every one contributed.I aws told that in other countries especially in Japan the Trains are so clean and no one feels like dirty the compartments. But in India it is the other way.

After the handicapped beggars, a one eyed beggar made his appearance. He started singing. The college students first made fun of him and after a while they asked him to sing songs of their choice. 0f course they paid him money good enough for his meals. The beggar made his exit hurriedly after seeing the security guards. The special security guards were posted in every train for the safety of the passengers. Two of them stayed in the compartment. There were more of them in the other compartments.

One of the students went to charge her cell phone at the electric plug points provided in each compartments. She came back and told me that a bag was lying near the door . She confirmed that she was able to hear the tick-tick sound from the bag.

I became alert remembering Rajathani Express blast I had seen on TV a few days ago. I knew about the King Circle Station story from BBC.

The guards were alerted. They pulled the chain and stopped the train. The passengers were asked to get out of the train with their luggage. The entire area was filled with tension and unknown fear. Passengers took shelter under a huge tree far away from the train. The bag that contained the suspected time bomb was in the same place unattended.

The Railway Protection Force came with the bomb removal squad. They were working out a plan to deal with the situation

Meanwhile a beggar got in to the compartment and went away with the bag, which created such a commotion. Eagle eyed policemen caught him by his collars. They opened the bag. There were two empty coco cola bottles and an alarm timepiece.

People heaved a sigh of relief and I confirm that the train beggars are not terrorists. We have to rehabilitate them some day.

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