Not so long ago, on a scorching day, a woman was sleeping in her stall where she sold lisle and gloves and stockings. No customer had called yet, and it was midday already. “Bad market”, it was called. Now, this was no news. It happened everyday.
What did not happen everyday was that her little girl, who was about a year and some months old, got off from her loosened grip and got lost in the market place. Well, our little baby got onto a rail road and toddled along at the center of it. No one noticed. Not anymore does anyone notice such a thing these days anyway. She toddled past a signpost that read, come in and get lost and also past some men roasting kebab, which they called suya. Then… she toddled past me. I did not see her in the normal sense of the word, see. I was busy writing a short story for an online competition. And I was there because I got inspired by the market. The sounds, the smells and colours all got into my head and helped me to write. Strange, isn’t it? Well, my eyes were stuck onto my writing pad when she wobbled by. But somehow I did not know I had seen her until three minutes later. My mind suddenly got me onto an alarm mood. At first, I was amused, because I did not know what the mango was wrong with my mind. Not until I had looked at the last sentence I wrote that I realized what was happening. The last sentence read: A little cherub tottered down the windy rail, alone, like Alice in wonderland. I suddenly dropped the pad and ran like I never did before. I could hear the blast of a train horn in the distance. It sounded like a Jewish shofar, sounding out a warning of things to come.
Oh lord. Oh my God! My mind was beating fast. As I ran towards the direction she went, the rails were already nodding to the dim-dim-da moves of an approaching train. I was almost out of breath when I sighted her. Just about that instance, I saw the coming train ahead of me. She was standing, facing it and looking at it. Only ten seconds held her from zero.
Now, while racing towards her in those few seconds of life and death, I remembered the day I almost fell into a big pot of boiling soup. It was at a party. I had slipped on a banana peel and was just caught halfway by the hands of a teenage girl who was cooking the soup. I imagined the pain I would have gone through if I had fallen in, that was if I did not die. Well, that experience was nowhere near what I thought was about to happen. Worse, my asthma attack began. Oh lord. Oh my God!
I had no time to get the inhaler. There was no applauding audience. I thought that the only other person who saw that girl was the train driver. But he was much too near to apply any breaks. All he did was blast the awesome horn. I flew to my little girl. With all the breath in me, I dived across the rails, snatching her by her braided hair. We landed onto the opposite bank just in time as the train thundered past. My hair singed for the burning heat. But I did not care. The girl huddled under my arms. In a moment, the never ending coaches all flew past….
There was calm. A gust of fresh air got to me. There was silence everywhere except for the sound of my shivering body, my gasps and the rustling leaves by the banks of the railroad. I fished out my inhaler and inhaled unsteadily. Then she began to cry. Its okay, its okay, my baby, the danger is gone. Spread them beautiful lips and smile. You are safe now….
What just happened? A sudden burst of joy rose from within me and I kissed her braided hair and made her laugh amidst her tears. I carried her and brought her back to the market place. Problem was how to locate her people. We passed many stalls. I was pointing into each stall with a shaky finger to see if she would give any sign that she was home. She only chuckled and clung to me. Then she pointed at a sleeping woman and mumbled loudly. And as if touched by a magic wand, the lady awoke with a start and looked straight at us. Nothing in this world would make her understand that I was not there to kidnap her baby. A mob gathered, threatening to tear me apart….
Somehow, thank goodness, the police arrived and took me away. The police station was by a train station. Another crowd of people formed and they were pointing at me, ululating and clapping and shouting. A train driver in his lemon overalls was standing there with them, paring his fingers smugly. In many different ways, they were all saying that I saved a little girl from being crushed by the train they had all just got off from. This unexpected lifeline was what saved me from only God knows what. Ouch, what a world!
Aha, back to my short story, where was I? Oh, never mind. Who cares, anyway…?