Scene from the metro.

The ladies compartment in the metro is crowded as usual. Bodies pressed close together and sweat trickling down faces despite the air conditioning. The floor can't be seen under all the brightly painted toenails.

An old lady pushes her way through and a young girl leaps up to give her a seat. The lady sits down with a sigh of relief and a grateful glance. She closes her eyes for a few minutes. At the next stop, a harried young mother enters with a little girl. The child is small and thin and her eyes are very big and very dark in her pale little face. She's standing at the old lady's knee - and she is lost amongst the crowd, standing no higher than anyone's waist.

The old lady smiles at the girl and beckons.

"Come and sit on my lap," she says.

The girl shrinks back a little, scared. A small hand clutches the end of her mother's sari tightly.

"Come here, my child," says the old woman, still smiling. She looks up at the young mother and you can make out some sort of kinship in the exchange of their gazes. A sense that they both know what the other is experiencing, a sense that in this crowded compartment filled with strangers, they, sort of,  just a little, know what the other is thinking.

The girl has lost interest in the old woman. She's looking up at all the faces hovering above her. Most aren't looking at her, they're talking to other people, or looking down at their phones and ipods. A few smile down at her. There's something incredibly endearing about the child.

Slowly she inches closer to the old lady and soon, she's standing at her knee. The old lady doesn't say anything. The girl looks up at her and, in return, gets a wink. The eyes widen. Another wink. A little giggle, so unexpected, it surprises even the giggler.

The little girl gets off with her mother a few stops later, carried away in the current of the crowd that surges around her, engulfing her.

And the old lady closes her eyes again, clenching and unclenching the hand that the little girl had, at some point, slipped her own hand into, confidingly, trustingly - as the train gallops on, down its usual route. 

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