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  • Anupam Sen Gupta

FROM THE FRYING PAN TO THE PYRE

Updated: Jun 28

The year 1989.

After the sudden paralysis and later, with the demise of my father, we were soon on the streets. Those days, men handled finances and the rest of the household would have no clue. So, we had no clue.

My mother had to go to Lucknow; the city of my maternal family. The city where I was born. It was only after a couple of years when I could meet her, that I realised that all through she was not living with her relatives but in a neighbour’s garage. On her own. Why? No clue. She would go around half the city to do tuition to survive.

My brother managed to find someplace in the slums to spend nights that none of us had remotely dreamt of! A family, that would eat dinner together had to split all over the country. And me, I was sleeping on the staircases of government offices and once in a while would manage to take a wash at the public urinal of the Municipal HQ.


A friend would often smuggle food for me. As a matter of fact, Pinaki would feed me with his share of food and even spend nights on sidewalks with me.

When I walked out of my home, I was in a single pair of clothes. This was the first time I was not running away from home. But was leaving our home permanently as it was no longer ours!

Soon, except for a couple, all my good friends, a few relatives and acquaintances would genuinely put a lot of effort to avoid me. Some would even take detours to avoid coming face to face.

Once I was travelling ticketless on a local train to the outskirts of the city to seek help from one of our ex-domestic staff.

This wasn’t the first time I was travelling without a ticket. But it was the first time I was travelling ticketless as I was penniless and hadn’t eaten for a couple of days.


As the train began to move, I noticed a very close friend in the same compartment. Honestly, seeing him was like a ray of hope in my otherwise struggle for existence.

But the moment he noticed me, he began pushing his way through the crowd towards the exit of the moving train.

Local trains halt for a few seconds at each station. The moment the train began to approach the next station, he jumped out.

In a few seconds, the train began to move again. Suddenly, we could hear a commotion in the next compartment. The commotion soon became a clear case of an altercation.
The train began to approach the next station. The sound of the train began to decrease and with that, the clarity of the commotion began to increase.

And before the train could come to a standstill, suddenly someone flew out of the adjoining compartment and landed on the platform. What followed was a moulded plastic briefcase, an umbrella and all sorts of plastic bottles!

I pushed myself through the crowd and was shocked to see my friend trying to get up. And before he could pick up his belongings, the train began to move. And as the train began to move, he hurled the choicest of traditional Bangla cuss words.

I was really confused.

It was only when I got down at my destination which was the next station, that I realised that the adjoining compartment was exclusively for women.

Like they say, ‘Ladies Special’ !!


(disclaimer - images have been sourced from the internet. we dont have any claim on them. used as reference)

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