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Sunday, February 1, 2009


(The real life experience: The author was travelling in the train with his son Roshan from Kerala State, India to Chennai(Madras) and on the way Roshan fell in the train and had an injury. Please continue to Strangers helped the boy and his father . Amazing love from strangers who stretched their hands for all the help. A very heart touching story!!)
There was a gash on the back of his head, and he had a Crescent shaped cut on his head. Blood was oozing out of this cut. Someone in the group suggested that I wash the wound and made me sit down on the adjacent seat. We took out some water from a mineral water bottle to wash his head. One of my co passengers pulled out a first aid kit and passed a cotton swab dipped in Savlon.

In the meanwhile, the train attendant went off to see if he could find a doctor on the train. The people around were all trying to help me and it was quite a swirl of activity as my mind was still struggling to make a cogent decision as to what to do next. One of the co-passengers was helping me by holding my son’s head firmly and pressing the wound tightly. Somebody else was swabbing my son’s wound with savlon. All the while, my son kept sobbing and tightly clinging to me.

In the meantime, the train attendant managed to locate a doctor on the train. She came and tried to took a look at the wound. Though the bleeding had stopped, my son would not allow anyone to touch the wound. That was when, someone opened up a packet of chocolates which he was carrying as a gift for someone and passed on to my son. Momentarily distracted, the doctor managed to take a look at the wound. The wound had stopped bleeding but the would looked like a red gash. The scalp had parted slightly. The doctor felt that we should better detrain immediately and get the wound treated given that it was a head wound. Leaving it untreated, could lead to infection setting in and making matters more complicated. The co-passenger who had been tightly pressing my son’s head, also turned out to be a senior doctor at CMC Vellore, Dr Reji Oomen. He reassured me that it was only a superficial wound and we could even take a chance to travel all the way to Chennai. However, in the interest of safety, both doctors recommended that we get the wound treated as the risk of an infection setting in was very high.

We decided to detrain at the next station which was Palaghat. My son had by now, settled down into a disturbed sleeping routine, waking up once in a while and then drifting back into a disturbed sleep. The people around me were exceptionally helpful and supportive. A couple of them promised to help me with getting the luggage off the train. Finding that I did not know a soul, at the place, Dr Reji Oomen, called up one of his colleague’s sister Chitralekha who worked at the Palaghat station. She intern called up one of her colleagues who was on duty and called back in 5 minutes to tell us that her colleague, Sajeevan from Signals would be at the station to provide any help required. One of my co passengers, asked me if I was carrying enough money since I may have to take a taxi to Coimbatore to get back to Chennai. I was carrying one Rs 1000 and my ATM cards. He promptly handed me Rs 3000/- and asked me to return it once I got back to Chennai. Another gentleman handed me another Rs 1000/-. Another person pulled out a new hand kerchief and gave it to me for use incase I needed to tie up the wound. I was sincerely overwhelmed by the acts of kindness that I received from complete strangers. I quickly took the cards of the two people who had lent me money and also noted the numbers of Mrs Chitralekha and Mr Sajeevan, my only contacts at Palaghat station.

The train attendant, in the mean time had intimated the Station Master at Palaghat and came back with the news that a doctor from the railway hospital would be waiting for us at the station. The plan was to go to the Railway hospital and get my son’s wound stitched up. As I waited for the train to reach Palaghat, I called my father in law and told him about what had happened and told him that we were getting off the train on account of the accident. I also told him not to inform my parents or my wife as they would only get worried in the night.

It was almost 11.00 pm in the night when we reached Palaghat. All the passengers helped us get off the train and we were surprised to see the Station Master, The Assistant Station master and the railway doctor waiting for us at the platform. The doctor had been summoned from the nearby Railway hospital and he must have come at exceptionally short notice since the train had time to cover only one station. The doctor checked my son’s head under the platform lights and recommended that we go to the nearby hospital adjacent to the Railway station and get him stitched up. The Station Master, signed my break of journey and told me that there was another train to Chennai at 1.00 am in the morning and I could catch that if the treatment finished in time. He then flagged off the train as I was thanking my co-passengers of Coach B2. The doctor and the Asst Station Master, Lawrance then took us to a waiting ambulance. Since the driver was not present that day, Asst Station master Lawrance drove the ambulance and took us across to the nearby hospital, Menon Hospital.

We were rushed into the emergency watd and thereafter it was a buzz of activity with the nurses, cleaning up the wound, shaving my son’s hair and the emergency doctor putting in Staple stitches. The doctor put in three staples into my son’s scalp to hold the skin together. He also reassured me that there was only a superficial wound and no other damage. He also told me to look out for any vomiting / head pain in which case he recommended that we should get a CT scan done to assess any possible damage. All the activity finished by 11.45 pm and we drove back to the station. By the time the dressing was being done, couple of friends of my brother-in law working with ITC reached the spot. My brother-in law (based in Calcutta) had called his friends in ITC, Palaghat and they (Sandeep Menon and Anish Nair) had dropped everything they were doing and came over to help me, a complete stranger.

We used Sandeep’s car to get back to the Station. When we reached the Station Master’s office, he told us that the train to Chennai would pass through on its way to Chennai in a shortwhile. It would touch Palaghat at 1.00 am in the morning. He said that, while he could not confirm a seat for us on the train (since the charts were already drawn), he was quite hopeful that we would get a seat in the train, since all the waitlist passengers had got confirmed seats.

Armed with a letter addressed to the Train superintendent (TTE) we waited on the platform, for the train to arrive. My son had settled down to sleep and I requested my brother in law’s friends to leave since it was getting quite late. They helped us find a porter in the middle of the night who would help me put the luggage into the train and left.

The train pulled into the station at 1.00 am, sharp on schedule. The TTE looked at the letter and immediately assigned us a berth. I clambered on carrying my son & the porter followed me closely with our luggage. The porter helped me settle down into the seat and the train attendant was exceptionally helpful giving us additional pillows so that my son could rest his head. We settled down to sleep and I sent a SMS to my father in law saying that we would be in Chennai at 10.00 am.

At 8.00 am, we woke up and my son seemed fine as far as I could see. He did not have any problems and was curious to know what had happened. I called and told my wife and parents about what had transpired over the previous night. They were relieved that everything was fine. We reached Chennai at 10.00 am on schedule and my father in law was at the station to receive us.

We reached home, three hours later than planned and fortunately my son came out unscathed despite enduring a terrible fall. The night, however will always remain etched in my mind, because countless strangers, reached out to us. We will always be eternally grateful to the passengers of coach B2, on train 2624, Mr Joseph and Anoop George (who lent money without knowing whether they would get it back),.Dr Reji Oomen whose timely medical intervention ensured that the blood flow got staunched, countless others whose names I cannot remember, the railways staff, Station Master Gopalakrishnan, Asst Station Master, Laurance, the railways doctor, Sajeevan from Signals who went beyond the call of duty as well as my brother in law’s friends from ITC, Sandeep and Anish. I thank god for enabling these strangers to support us in our hour of need and ensuring that everything worked out smoothly.

That night, my faith in human goodness was re established and it will always be a night to remember.

(P.S: My son Roshan shows no ill effects of the fall and continues to be as naughty as ever..)

Alexander John
(We are glad that it is a happy ending story and we appreciate Mr.Alexander John for giving us
a chance to publish this story which shows that people can show love and kindness in time of need. Roshan, be well and the best wishes for a bright future)-New World

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