Probably another fifteen minutes for the train to arrive. Having to wait in an unknown railway station for your train is certainly not among the best of things that can happen to you. But that day, somehow the whole setting brought a curious pleasure. The station seemed to be blissfully detached from all that which makes the world irksome and tiring. There seemed to be an air of magical serenity to the whole place. And of course, there was this rare pleasure of being in a place where nobody noticed you, knew you, or cared about what you’re doing!
Just as I was glancing through my Reader’s Digest (with no particular interest), I heard a shuffle of two tiny feet. I looked up to see a little girl, around three years of age, with a small bottle in her hand. With a gait so typical of little children – small irregular steps, excited hops in between, arms flailing – she walked past me. In no time, she reached a water tap near the fence on the platform, and turned back. When I glanced towards where she came from, I could see that she had turned to look at her mother, who was seated several benches away from me. I saw the mother gesture to her child to open the tap and stick the bottle under it, to collect the water. The child, despite having had to stand on her tiptoes for it, was quick to turn the tap on a little and hold the bottle under the trickle of water that had just begun to pour from it.
The sight of the bottle getting filled up slowly caught her fancy, I think; for she immediately turned to look at her mother with a wide smile, as if seeking approval for what she was doing. Even though her mother was gesturing to her, almost mouthing the words, to open the tap further so that the bottle would get filled up sooner, the girl seemed contented with the pace at which she was doing the job. The smile intact, she looked back at the bottle getting filled up, eyes gleaming in amazement and curiosity. Though her mother was still trying to get her attention, she seemed to be lost in her own simple world, where nothing could beat the pleasure of watching water drip into a bottle, filling it up ever so slowly!
It didn’t take much for her to realize though, that once you really want to concentrate on something, everything else distracts you. Now, the group of pigeons on the roof of the station building, then the bleating of the goats standing on the other side of the fence, then the creak of a trolley wheel behind her – she found it hard to resist looking at them. And in doing so, a couple of times, the bottle she was holding got misplaced from underneath the tap, and she got her arms wet. Soon it became a silly game between her and the tap – she would pull off the bottle for a few seconds, get her arms wet, but put the bottle back under the tap again!
She had spent several minutes in such a manner, before she suddenly decided she had collected enough water. She closed the tap, with an appreciative pat on it, and started walking back to her mother. The brilliant flash of smile on her face gave off the sense of achievement that her pristine mind had derived from such a seemingly dull task.
That she had managed to fill up just about a quarter of her bottle, or that her animated hops would spill much of the bottle’s contents by the time she would reach her mother, didn’t seem to make any difference to her. She probably held the big grin on her face all day…