This is when I was in my 1st year of MBBS. About 4 and half years ago. My semester exam had just gotten over and I was travelling back home. I was happy but anxious, too. I get anxious before every long journey. Be it train or flight. And this time I was more anxious because I was travelling alone for the first time. Until then, I had someone travelling with me.

So the night before, I couldn’t sleep properly. I chose the train over flight because train journeys have always fascinated me. I love sitting near my window seat and staring at the vast green expanse outside and the sunset and sunrise.  

So to avoid Bengaluru traffic, I left early for the station. I reached there and was waiting for the train to come. I had my novel with me so I started reading that to look busy. Finally, the train arrived and everyone was running around to find their seats. I started searching for my compartment and seat. I had a huge trolley bag and a handbag. I was going back home for the first time since college, so I had a gift for everyone. But mostly I had my books.

I searched from one end to another. S1, S2, S3,B2,B3. I searched again and again and again. B1 was missing. I tried to talk to people around. Apparently, there were many other people who were not able to find their compartment. So we decided to go to the TT and talk to him. He said the whole compartment has been cancelled because of some technical issue. So we all were allotted seats in different compartments. Mine was in the sleeper coach.

I was really pissed off and irritated. I tried to talk to the officers there. I tried to tell that I was travelling alone for the first time and I don’t feel safe travelling alone in a sleeper coach. They said they will try to arrange something but they can’t promise anything.

I had no hopes.

So started for the newly allotted seat. When I got there, two passengers were already there in that compartment. They looked like mother and daughter. The mother was looking really sick or tired maybe. Huge dark circles around the eye, pale skin, shrunken eyes, scattered messy hair and that exhausted look on her face. “Thank god some other women are there at least,” I told myself.

I started organising my luggage and I took my seat. Mine was the lower berth. Slowly people started coming and all the seats were getting occupied. I tried to look busy with my phone and novel mostly to avoid eye contact and small talk. The seats near to me were mostly filled with women. 

“Where are you going,” the mother asked me. 

“Bhubaneswar. You,” I asked. I was not interested in where they were going but I didn’t want to sound rude so just for formality I asked the question. 

“Kolkata,” she replied and asked, “Do you stay in Bangalore?”

“Yes, I am studying here.”

I started looking into my novel to avoid further conversation. 

She realised that I’m not interested in conversation so she started talking to other people in the compartment.

I was still crappy from the whole changing of seat thing. I was like why do all types of blunders keep happening to me only? How am I going to adjust here? It’s a 22hrs-long journey and I am stuck here for the next 22hrs. I was busy in my own thoughts when I heard the other people speaking.

From what I could hear, it seemed like the mother had developed breast cancer two years ago. She was on chemo and radiotherapy, since then. But four months ago, the scan report showed grade 3 carcinoma breast which can be treated only by mastectomy (removal of the affected breast) followed by extensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy. She was undergoing treatment in CMC Vellore for the last 2 months and finally, she was returning home.

When people started showing their sympathy, she said, “No matter what, you can always find a reason to be grateful. Compared to other people who die without getting proper treatments, compared to people who die from road accidents and other sudden deaths.”She added that she finds herself really lucky. She has a chance to leave to the fullest the remaining time she has with her and to say goodbye to everyone. To make everything right in her life.”

I lifted my head and looked at her. There was a shine in her shrunken, tired-looking eyes. There was this peace in her pale face. Here I was complaining about such small things in life, not being able to recognise the blessings and great things that I have. And here was this woman, very few things to be grateful for and a lot of things to complain about but still filled with gratitude and peace.

Her words have stayed with me. I won’t stay that incident changed my life. I still complain about small things. But when I start to complain, her words always ring in my head and they make me think that am I so small in front of my problems that I will forget all the good things that I have?

What is that one incident, one moment that changed your life or stayed with you forever? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thank you all for giving your precious time to reading this post. May divine lord always bless you. Radha Krishna Bhagwan ki jay!