Mega was almost running, to catch the 8:15 am local. She couldn’t afford to miss it today. It was her first Board meeting of the company and, to make matters worse, her boss was always before time. Now she just about managed to board the train and heaved a sigh of relief. She managed to squeeze in, to rest herself a bit. The horrible fight that she and Nikhil had the whole night, had drained her completely. And much as she wanted to, she just couldn’t clear it off her head. The mean things that Nikhil had said to her, were ringing into her ears. Suddenly she felt something fall on her arms. Tears? She looked to her side; a young girl was sitting next to her and tears were trickling down her eyes. Mega didn’t know her. She was Nicole, who was going to give a job interview. She had given quite a few job interviews so far, but due to her extreme nervousness, hadn’t been able to make it anywhere. Today again the same nervousness, along with her desperation to get a job, was consuming her. Ramprasad, sitting on the other side of the compartment, was going to see his twenty-year-old son in the hospital, who was terminally ill. The doctors had told the family clearly that he might live for a maximum of a month or so. Neil, a junior college student, was in deep trouble. He had no money at all to buy his regular weed and he was having a weird blank feeling in his mind, which he could not handle.
Suddenly a strong, sweet voice, singing a beautiful song, filled the air. Mega knew the song. It used to be her favourite in school. One of ABBA’s all time hits ….
‘I have a dream, a song to sing; to help me cope, with anything;
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale, You can take the future, even if you fail;
I believe in angels, something good in everything I see ….”
The train slowed down and stopped. Mega’s station had come. Along with many others, she too alighted from the train just as the train moved on again. The song had not stopped and Mega, unconsciously, walked towards her office, humming the song. She was humming this after so many years; in fact, she had not heard this song for years. Before she realised, she was entering her office and she was feeling significantly better. The day whizzed past and while returning on the train, Mega thought of the song again. What a big difference it had made for her today.
Next morning, Mega reached the station well before time and boarded the compartment from which the song was coming the previous day. Right after two stations, she heard the song being sung again. She craned her neck to see the singer. She could spot her. The singer was a girl of around twenty five years of age. She could see one eye, and one of her lower limbs, was missing. The one eye that had vision seemed to be overflowing of life and love. She sang with so much joy and passion, that it was infectious. She sang, and some other passengers joined in too.
Everyday now, Mega would board the same compartment of the train and get to hear the song, as beautiful as ever, from the girl. She would think of the song so many times and would wonder at the irony of the lyrics being sung by this girl! A young girl, with such handicap, could sing this song like a nightingale! Each word that she sang was infused with life and energy. She was so very amazing! A voice made her turn,
“Do you know the story of this girl? The one who sings everyday?” A lady sitting next to her was asking her. Mega shook her head in the negative.
“ Some seven years back, she was travelling on the same train to go to her college. She was a chirpy teenager who was a passionate sprinter. She had vowed to herself that she would get the Olympic gold in 100 meters. She had won the nationals and had ben training very hard. The Olympics were barely six months away. One day, while going to her college, she was standing near the door of the compartment, with her friends. It was exceptionally crowded that day so they couldn’t quite get in. A station was approaching and suddenly there was a wave like push from the inside of the compartment, from the people who were to alight there. This girl, Noor, lost balance and fell off the train, right on to the tracks. She spent almost two months in the hospital and returned home, minus an eye and a leg. She was devastated to say the least and all her dreams were shattered. She was angry, frustrated and helpless.
“Why me?” haunted her day and night. Her father stood by her side like a rock. Her mother was also struggling to help her daughter. After around two months of strife, Noor gathered herself up and one morning she announced to her parents that she wanted to rebuild her dreams. She wanted to win the Olympic gold in the Para- Olympics. She needed a prosthetic leg. Her parents were all for her dream. The leg was attached in due time, following the normal procedures and she then went through physiotherapy for the longest of time. Soon after she restarted her training from the very scratch, and now she is aiming for the Olympics this year. Seven years and her life turned upside down. She goes for her training every single day and she sings this song on her way,” concluded the lady.
Mega could not believe what she had just heard. What a roller coaster of life Noor had had, and how amazingly she had responded to her challenges, Mega thought. Her own problems with Nikhil, frustrations at work, all dwindled in comparison to Noor’s magnitude of problems. Her station had come and like a robot, she walked towards her office. Noor refused to budge from her mind, for the many days that followed. Subconsiously, Mega changed. She started to react to challenges, stoically and calmly. Without her asking, Noor’s face would appear suddenly in front of her eyes, whenever she was in adversities, and somehow, Mega would come out stronger and a lot more confidant. The ABBA song had become an anthem for her now.
The months flew past and the Olympics were going on. Mega was following it very passionately. Her heart swelled with pride when she saw Noor walking with the Indian team. She got very charged up and shouted, “Nikhil, come see Noor.” Then she remembered nothing. She had passed out. Mega was pregnant and was in her last trimester. Nikhil rushed her to the hospital. The doctor examined her and said that suddenly the blood pressure had shot up, because of which she had passed out. The baby needed to be taken out, surgically. All went well. When Mega opened her eyes, Nikhil held out the little baby girl to her,
“ Mega, our little Noor,” smiled Nikhil as he looked into Mega’s eyes. The T.V. was on. Suddenly Nikhil’s eyes fell on it and he said,
Mega turned to watch the television. Noor was running the 100 meter race. Mega and Nikhil’s eyes got glued to the screen and then both gave out a scream of joy, together. Noor had won the Olympic gold! Their screams made little Noor in her arms, squirm a bit, and pout her red lips. Tears were rolling down Mega’s eyes as she hugged little Noor tight to her bosom.