Amarkant Jain
Amarkant Jain

It's that time of the year when we Jains observe fasts. On Aug 28, after having dinner at 6 pm, if someone would've said to me that my next meal would be after 38 hours, I would've laughed at that person.

Having worked through the night, I'd overslept and had to rush the next morning. I had tea and dashed to Malad station to take a train to Thane. I finished at 12.30 pm, by when the light drizzle I had left in had become a downpour. So, I decided to rush home.

Amidst heavy rains, the fast train left from Thane, crossing Kurla on schedule. Dadar was approaching, but suddenly, it halted. What I assumed to be a normal halt of a few minutes turned into an 18-hour ordeal, with mosquitoes, humidity and discomfort for company.

This was a Badlapur-CST Fast; so, we were on the extreme left, stuck between Kurla and Sion. On one side, there was a huge gutter - we could see snakes slithering in the water - and on the other side was a smaller nullah between two tracks, just as filthy. Faeces, garbage, leaves and plastic adorned the accumulating water, which rose from ankle length to waist height in half an hour.

By then, two more trains had halted alongside. Initially, some youngsters started clicking selfies with the surrounding water, but soon, their enthusiasm died and a few jumped off and started walking towards Sion.

However, most of us decided to wait in the train. As the hours ticked by, amid criticism of the administration, people started calling up their loved ones to let them know of the situation. I too called up my wife, Mayura, from a co-passenger's phone as mine had conked off.

Hours-long ordeal ends
A lot of helplines were being flashed on social media. Mayura and my friend Pratap Yelwande called each one of them. When that didn't work, she took to Twitter and Facebook. Mayura found DCP Samadhan Pawar's number and spoke to him and he assured her that help would reach in no time.

My friend Rahul Sanghvi even left for Sion station to look for me. Finally, at 7.30 am, with the water levels receding, I jumped off the train and reached Sion station.

The CR, Mumbai Police and fire brigade all put in efforts to come to our aid. They were treating every phone call with understanding, patience, and empathy.

As told to Vinod Kumar Menon