The 1Hundred Linky
She slept on the hard cement bench on the CST (Mumbai) platform unmindful of the milling crowd , the shrill horn of the trains and the incessant announcements blaring from the loudspeakers about the arrival and departure of the local trains. The havaldar (police constable) moving around did not disturb her siesta. Moti , her canine friend , gave her company. A pair of plastic chappals lay near Moti.
Laxmiakka as she was called by all who knew her was a native of a village near Bijapur in Karnataka state.
On the fateful day of November 26 , 2008 she and her family comprising of her husband and two sons had just arrived on the CST platform a tad early to board a train which would take them to their hometown.They were all excited and happy at the prospect of meeting their extended family , after saving a major portion of their income as casual workers in construction industry. But fate had different plans for them and a gun toting man across the border nipped their dreams to leave Laxmiakka , homeless and without a family. Her husband and her two sons fell prey to the bullets and she miraculously was left without even a single scratch on her body.
After conducting the last rites of the males members of her family , her in-laws refused to accept her , branding her of bringing bad luck. She was deprived of her husband 's share in the ancestral property and asked to leave.
CST Station became her home and she started selling vada-pav ( a snack) in the ladies compartment of the local trains. In the evening she retired to her shanty just behind the heritage monument to cook dinner of daal and rice for herself and her canine companion. After having a sumptuous early breakfast consisting of roti and left-over daal , she proceeded to sell her wares.
She had sold nearly 300 vadas by 1 o' clock. She had saved two vada-pavs for herself. After filling her belly with the frugal lunch , she raised the bottle to drink water , when she saw a small red bag on the perch where the lady commuters put their hand-bags while the train is in motion.
The compartment was empty. Perhaps somebody must have forgotten their belonging, thought she. But on hindsight , she decided against handling it.
Soon the Railway Police arrived and on searching the bag , a booty of gold ornaments was discovered.
A lady had had filed a complaint of the missing bag .The bag was handed over to the rightful owner. The lady thanked Laxmiakka and wished to reward her. But Laxmiakka smiled and said she had done her duty and walked away to the waiting Moti .
She removed her footwear , place the polythene bag on the cement bench and drifted away to enjoy her siesta with a small smile on her face.
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