When I was Humbled

It happened in 1944. I was traveling from Sukkur to Karachi by rail. In those days, reservation in First Class on slow passenger trains was not necessary as plenty of accommodation was always available, and getting a sleeping berth was no problem. On arrival of the train, I was pleased to find a coupe compartment vacant which I could have all to myself. I, therefore, occupied it and spread my bedding on the lower berth. The train was about to start when I saw a rustic, ill-clad person enter. I thought that such a poor, miserable, and shabby looking person could certainly not afford to travel by First Class. He must have entrained there mistakenly.  I, therefore, confidently informed him, "This is First Class."

"I know it, sir" was his polite reply and he coolly entered the compartment.

It was unbelievable that such a beggarly, uncouth, and uncivilized person could afford to travel First Class. His cool collected confidence, however, did not betray in the least that he was traveling without ticket or did not have the ticket of the proper class. Then I thought that he might have purchased a short distance ticket to satisfy his desire or curiosity to travel First Class. I asked him, "How far are you going?"


Well: that meant that I would have to travel with this filthy, miserable wretch, the whole of the night. How could this rustic, with such dirty clothes, have so much money as to afford First Class for such a long journey. No! There must be some catch or fraud in the whole thing. He must not have purchased any ticket, presuming that no one will check him for tickets during the night. So I asked him to show me his ticket.

It was to my great embarrassment, that he with great gusto, took out a white ticket (denoting First Class). I was, further, amazed to see that the destination on the ticket was Karachi. This completely humbled me.

But the final moment of my embarrassment was yet to come. On reaching Karachi, I noticed that there was a huge crowd at the station waiting to receive and give him great ovation. I found that he was a political leader of great importance and used to travel incognito, so that he was not disturbed during his journey. I still remember the smile he gave me while getting off the train. How much I wish, I had not been foolish enough to ask him for his ticket.


More by :  Arya Bhushan

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