I watched Lion recently. It’s a beautiful movie with nice camera work and a few outstanding performances. [No, it’s not a film review]

Those who have not seen the movie, Lion is based on the real life story of Saroo Brierly, who was lost on a train when he was only five. He reached Kolkata, miles away from his home, and was finally adopted by a family from Australia. Saroo, haunted by his childhood memories and lost family, takes an emotional journey to find out his roots.

The movie reminded me of a little boy I met many years ago in a train. (Another train story, huh.).

I was returning to Delhi, my work location, after a vacation. I boarded the coach, a three tier sleeper, non AC. I loved non AC coaches for the endless supply of food from vendors through the journey. This time I got a window berth and the coach was full of families going on Durgapuja vacation. I was enjoying the merry environment and the smiling faces.

After a while, a bunch of kids, with their ages running from single digits to early teens, came in. They were cleaning the floor with ancient dusters and picking up trashes thrown by passengers. Someone shouted to be careful as these kids could smartly divert your attention and steal things. I had once lost my bag in train so I checked and ensured my trolley was safely locked and latched to the seat. The kids left the coach in a few minutes, with the trashes, a few rupees from some kind souls, and loads of mouthful from others.

The kids retuned after a couple of hours and the scene got repeated, except this time they got less money. I noticed the team had a leader and all the other kids were submitting their collections to him. One of the kids got my attention. He was the scrawniest but seemed to be the most adamant. He did not give the money to the leader, who was double his size, before a fight.

It was an uneventful journey and sadly there was no one who could draw my attention! So, I had my dinner early and went off to sleep. When I got up next morning, Delhi was still far off as the train was running several hours late.

I hurried towards the washroom, hoping that the water tanks not yet emptied. When I came out, I found the Boy sitting alone in a corner, calculating the pennies he had collected. I was curious and tried to strike a conversation but the Boy was clearly not interested. For the next hour or so, I tried hard to make him speak and offered him a ten rupee note a packet of chips as bribe. I could barely make a chink!

The Boy was not lost. He had left home as his drunkard father would beat him, his mother and three younger siblings every day. His mother could not work much as she had some kind of an ailment. The Boy could not bear the daily ritual anymore and left home. He wanted to earn enough money and build a home for his mother and siblings.

Not an unusual story really as thousands of children in our country go through this. They may not leave there homes though. There was something in the Boy’s sparkling eyes. I couldn’t really explain.

I just prayed whatever it takes to make a home, he gets that soon!